Forcing women to wear heels at work is abusive

Requiring a woman to wear high heels at work isn’t just sexist — but abusive.

Heeled shoes are painful. Despite how awesome they look and how powerful or pretty they make you feel, there is no scenario in which women will say, in relation to their heels, “these shoes make me feel like I’m walking on a cloud.”

Some women just don’t have the feet for high heels. They may have no arches, wide soles, or legitimate medical problems relating to feet or ankles, all contributing factors in not being able to squish into a narrow and pointy piece of plastic supported only by a skinny rod on one end. The result is blisters, sore callouses, and the potential of a sprained ankle.

Like I said. Forcing women into heels can be harmful. Personally, I only wear high heels to fancy events, job interviews, and sometimes on a night out — but only if those events, job interviews, and evenings out don’t involve a lot of walking. Honestly, I don’t even know why I bother half the time. I can’t imagine wearing heels eight hours a day, every day. Nor would I want to.

British Columbia parliamentarians have taken notice of this fact and are pushing forward legislation that will ban requirements for footwear dress codes based on gender, or more simply put, it would make it illegal for employers to force their female employees to wear high heels in the workplace.

Who wants to move to British Columbia? I can tell you my hand went up.

I am constantly disgusted by the mandatory dress codes in certain industries. When servers or restaurant hostesses are forced into skimpy dresses and clunky high-heel shoes, I always wonder about the safety factor — is it safe for these women to be balancing five drinks, a plate full of steak and potatoes, and a side order of fries, all the while wearing shoes that could be used as a lethal weapon if taken off the foot and thrown at a person’s head?

Or how about when a receptionist for a large law firm is sent home for not wearing the correct foot attire, as happened in the UK. Apparently, this offended the many people who actually stare at a person’s toes while they speak with them.

This is all getting a bit ridiculous, don’t you think? Especially in 2017, as more women become decision-makers and obtain positions of power.

I agree that sometimes a dress code is necessary. But, can we also agree there is no job that can be performed better in 5-inch stilettos? What’s wrong with a simple black flat or a working shoe with a very small and thick platform? For goodness sake, what’s wrong with being comfortable AND professional in the workplace?

All of the other provinces in Canada should follow British Columbia and create legislation of their own. There is no need for ridiculous and sexist dress codes in the workplace. If legislation banning them is what’s needed for companies to change their policies, then so be it.

Although, it’s worth being said, that if we need legislation to mandate companies not to force their female employees to dress a certain way, Canada probably isn’t as feminist as it claims to be.

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Can you be friends with your co-workers?

by Nicole Duquete

Getting along with the people you work with certainly makes the day more pleasant and go by a lot quicker, but sometimes it is difficult to know if you’ve crossed the line between being just co-workers and being friends.

Recently, I have had a couple of co-workers whom I’ve gotten along with really well. It was a new experience for me to work with people my own age, with similar interests, and with whom I could talk freely about my life outside of work. At first, I wasn’t sure how to react to the situation. I wasn’t sure if it was okay to be seen discussing non-work related things at work, and I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to ask someone I was friendly with to do work-related tasks for me. Luckily, my office is a relaxed environment, and I quickly found that it was easy to combine the professional and personal sides of my relationships with my co-workers. I still wonder, though, what the difference is between being friends and being colleagues who are friendly.

I think the difference lies in whether or not you spend time together outside of work. I was wary of crossing that imaginary line because I thought that, even if we were not at work, the experience of spending time with a co-worker would make my time off feel like work. But, the first time I crossed the line occurred organically. She needed a new outfit for a job interview, so we went shopping. Neither of us found it to be a forced, nor awkward experience. It gave us a chance to vent about work in a neutral setting, and to bond over shopping – the universal female bonding experience. Spending time together outside of work made it clear that we were no longer just co-workers, but now that my friend has started her new job, and we are no longer co-workers, it is clear that we have a true friendship that simply sprang from a work relationship.

My friendship with my colleague developed naturally, but what about when a co-worker makes unwanted advances towards friendship? Another of my co-workers, who I am not particularly fond of, has frequently attempted to friend me on Facebook, and to get assignments which would have us working closely together. I have done my best to continually be polite and pleasant to her, but I have still ignored her friend requests, and dodged working with her as much as possible. It reminds me how lucky it is to be able to develop a friendship with a co-worker because personal compatibility has nothing to do with hiring practices, so one lousy co-worker is a fair trade to find one good one.