It’s Cannes Film Festival time of year again, and this time the event has been in the news for a rather bizarre reason.
Dubbed ‘Shoegate’, the annual event has apparently received massive criticism for banning all women attending from wearing flat shoes and demanding they wear high heels.
It has been widely reported that women who were not wearing heels were actually turned away from last Sunday’s premiere of ‘Carol’ for wearing flat shoes, including an amputee film producer called Valeria Richter.
The festival’s official printed guidelines required a dress code of ‘black tie or dinner dress’ for premieres, yet the festival director Thierry Frémaux tweeted a denial that any specific stilettos-only policy for women exists and wrote: “The rumour that the festival requires high heels for women on the steps is unfounded.”
Nevertheless, the issue is still causing untold amounts of controversy almost a week later,
Stars including actress Emily Blunt spoke of their disappointment at the rulings, saying: “Everyone should wear flats, to be honest, at the best of times. You kind of think that there’s these new waves of equality and waves of people realizing that women are just as fascinating and interesting to watch, and bankable.”
Festival director Thierry Frémaux has tweeted a denial that a specific stilettos-only policy for women was in place at the event, but whether it happened or not, it’s safe to say that the controversy in Cannes brings up the ever long-standing debate of high heels and feminism, which has always interested me.
I believe that the definition of femininity can and should be personal. But even so, years before Marilyn Monroe (pictured) was pictured tottering around in her stilettos, high heels have been seen to be a symbol of femininity, sex appeal and power.
A woman is still a woman regardless of if she’s wearing flat shoes or heels, but wearing the latter is just one of the ways a woman can express her femininity, and for many, myself included, we will continue to wear them regardless of any pain and discomfort heels might bring.
As a woman of just over 5ft1, heels are a godsend to me when I am dressing smartly. I am much more comfortable in flat shoes and if I didn’t run the risk of looking like a tree stump, I would probably like to wear them most of the time.
But I can’t deny that putting a pair of heels with a dress, a skirt or even jeans, instantly changes the entire feel of your outfit and makes you feel great. For one thing, they make me taller and give me physical stature so I’m able to actually look people in the eye and talk to them at their level. They also have the ability to take away the ‘clunkiness’ of an outfit, which flat shoes tend to do.
Yet as with most things, if there’s no pain there’s no gain and I’m certainly not immune to the searing pain of spending too many hours in my heels. But I’m (most of the time) happy to endure it because of the reasons I’ve just mentioned.
However, in relation to ‘Shoe-gate’, shouldn’t the more important question be why the achievements of the women being recognised in Cannes have been overshadowed by an international furore about high heels?