Power and masculinity. Not the first two words that come to mind when you think of men in heels, right? Well guess what, when these magical shoes entered this world, that’s what they represented-- and you know who wore them first? Men. That's right, the penis-having humans. Here is a little historical breakdown of the majestic invention.
The birth of heels dates back to the 10th century, first invented by the Persians for horseback riders in the cavalry. The purpose of the heel was to keep the riders stable in the stirrups and allow them to stand and effectively shoot their bow and arrows with their strong, fierce, and possibly enviable muscular arms. Which is also why cowboy boots have a bit of a heel on them too, minus the bow and arrow reasoning. The Europeans were already infatuated with everything Persian, so once the Persians started working with the Europeans in the 16th century, naturally the European Aristocratic men adopted the heels from the Persians. The heels were seen as a sign of masculinity and strength as well as a social status. The heeled boots were only worn by the strong cavalrymen, which also meant you probably owned a horse, an expensive commodity then. Heels started to become a sign of power amongst the European men and as the shoe trickled down to the lower ranks, the more impractical and higher the heels became for the upperclassmen. The men enjoyed the power and intimidation the extra height of the shoe gave them. One of the biggest aficionados of the shoe was King Louis XIV, who stood at 5’4”, and would normally don heels of about 4 inches (he and I would totally get along). As time went on, the trend was then adopted by women as they enjoyed taking bits and pieces of menswear and incorporating them into womenswear. The heels then became a women's accessory during the 18th century as men's fashion started to simplify and deemed heels impractical.
Interesting, right? So now when someone hates on you or a male wearing heels, clap back and educate them! Who’s the powerful masc gaysian now?
Now that you've had a brief history lesson… my personal foray into heels was around my sophomore year of college. It started with a pair of Clarks black booties that I thrifted at the Salvation Army by my family’s house in Florida. They were pretty much your standard black booties with a 2-inch block heel that cut off right before the shin.
I was skeptical at first since it was a larger heel than what I was used to, but once I put them on and saw what they did to my legs in my short shorts, I just couldn't say no. It was magic the moment I put them on-- my legs looked leaner and I was taller, which, for a petite person like myself, (I'm 5'4) every millimeter counts. I’m sure King Louis XIV would relate.
For me, being in heels is so empowering. It brings out this confidence in myself that I didn't know existed. It's as if I can take over the world one heel click at a time, no cavalry needed! Being in fashion, everyone is tall and they have this innate presence due to their stature. So it's difficult to compete in any scenario with them when you're half their height. But wearing heels helps dust away that mindset and makes standing next to these statuesque humans more bearable. I'll take you down, bitch!
When I shop for heels I usually go for a chunky one. I'm not the stiletto kind of person; as sexy as they are, they're just not my style. Also, I typically look for a heel under 4 inches since I usually walk around all day in them. But my knees are starting to feel the strain whenever I go down a slope or stairs... so I should probably start mixing up my shoe game if I want to continue taking over the world in heels.
Ironically, thank you, Salvation Army, for allowing me to discover this new world of empowerment, sensuality, and queerness despite your anti-LGBTQ views. A big thank you to Persians for creating heeled shoes as well, my legs would never look as good if it weren't for your ancestors!