Why the highest heels are the sexiest

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As a general rule, men find women in high heels sexy, and the higher the better (within reason, of course – the four inch heels above look best to me, and seem to give the best curve to the legs as well as reducing the apparent size of the feet).

This seems to be the effect women aim at:

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Margaret Visser, who writes on social customs, wrote in “The Way We Are” that “There has always been a preference for tiny feet in women: even prehistoric Venuses’ legs tend to taper to a point … high heels and skimpy shoes reduce feet.” Which implies that higher heels with less material in the shoe should be especially sexy:

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^high-heels (1)

(Two tricks used in women’s shoes to reduce the apparent bulk of the shoe are the use of transparent material and the use of a pink “nude” colour for the shoe.)

Two more examples:

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^6High-heels-Shoes

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(The red colouring – toenail polish or the shoe itself – probably also helps by drawing attention to the foot.)

Conversely, cankles are a problem, even for the lovely Cheryl Cole –

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^Cheryl-Cole-cankle-123553_XL

– presumably because they make the foot area look bulkier.

A connection between high heels and Chinese foot-binding is sometimes asserted. Certainly both have the effect of reducing the real or apparent size of the feet. Ogas and Gaddam in A Billion Wicked Thoughts suggest that men have an inherent tendency to respond to women’s feet as sexual cues (along with some other areas of their bodies). They claim that small feet are admired by men in cultures worldwide, and that sex sites on the Internet specialising in feet almost always feature small feet.

I once read a fascinating book on Chinese foot-binding. It might have been this one:

http://www.amazon.com/Chinese-Footbinding-History-Curious-Erotic/dp/B0007EOSR0/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1392202805&sr=1-2

The film director Quentin Tarantino seems to admire women’s feet. It is interesting that a famous image from his film Pulp Fiction shows “Mia Wallace’s” feet like this, with one flexed, which perhaps tends to reduce its apparent size (Tarantino seems to have a whole collection of fetishes, none of which I share):

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In summary, why are the highest heels considered the sexiest? Perhaps in part because the illusion of a small foot is greatest with the highest heels –

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^high_heel_bridal_shoes

– although, as I suggested above, the effect of wearing high heels on the shape and curvature of the calf and thigh must also help, perhaps by creating a supernormal stimulus based on the normal smooth curves of the female leg. That Wikipedia article refers to a proposal that “how women walk creates supernormal stimuli through continuously alternating motion of the waist and hips” thereby drawing attention to the waist/hip ratio. I would have imagined that the charming but inefficient way women walk and run is due to biomechanical features of the female pelvis and so on, although I have also heard it said that women exaggerate these movements when men are around. It is also observable that wearing high heels tends to enhance the rolling of the hips and general femininity of a woman’s gait.

Yet another effect of high heels is to make a woman more vulnerable in general. As I wrote here, this is the ” make-oneself-lower-or-smaller-or-more-vulnerable behaviour that is seen in … heterosexual female proceptive behaviour … ”

However I feel that women are less inclined to walk and run “like girls” than they used to be in my youth. It is years since I enjoyed the extraordinary sight of a matron running in stilettos to catch a bus, her legs and arms flailing madly in an astonishing display of feminine skill. In fact, I had thought that all American women in particular now ran like Wonderwoman –

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^wonder-girl-13-1

– until I saw the college girls running in Whit Stillman’s charming recent movie, Damsels in Distress.

I have included a relevant paper on the attractiveness of the female walking gait among the comments on my earlier post on human female proceptive behaviour. I notice that the man who wrote the paper on the attractiveness of the way women walk is an independent researcher, a status many men might claim in this field.

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40 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Novaseeker on February 12, 2014 at 1:16 pm

    Aren’t also higher heels advantageous for women in mating because they exclude a greater number of men from the acceptable mating pool, making a taller mate more likely?

    Reply

  2. I see a pretty substantial difference in calf tone between 4″ and 5″ that is more fetching to my eye. It would be interesting to see comparisons with the same model wearing each different shoe.

    Reply

    • Posted by Julian O'Dea on February 13, 2014 at 9:28 am

      I must say I had assumed that it WAS the same girl, with some photoshopping done.

      Personally I think the girl’s legs look best with the four inch heel. That is the shape which seems to be what women aim at.

      Reply

  3. High heels use different leg muscles than flats do; that’s why women walk funny in them at first until they get used to them. I’m tall, and some of my heels make me well over six feet tall, so I don’t wear heels very often (it’s no fun being 6’2″!), but when I do, it really works a different set of muscles.

    Reply

    • Posted by Julian O'Dea on February 14, 2014 at 10:47 pm

      Well, I am very much an observer, and it is a bit of a surprise to have a female perspective here and at the RedPillWomen reddit.

      My wife is quite tall, at 5 foot 7 inches, and besides she has a funny pelvis that makes her walk more like a teddy bear than a typical woman. So she tends not to wear very high heels. She has nice legs all the same.

      Reply

  4. […] suggest that men have an inherent tendency to respond to women’s feet as sexual cues (along with some other areas of their bodies). They claim that small feet are admired by men in cultures worldwide, and that sex sites on the Internet specialising in feet almost always feature small feet.

    Perhaps there is a biological explanation for this? The state of ones feet is a relatively simple way to measure overall body health.

    Dainty, healthy feet = genetically fit female
    Gnarly, swollen feet = Cardiovascular disease, Kidney disease, Liver disease, (insert other diseases).

    I think this can also explain why men are attracted to nice hair. Hair is a good reflection of body health. (I can always tell when my liver enzymes are out-of whack because my hair starts to get dull and weak)

    Reply

    • Posted by Julian O'Dea on February 15, 2014 at 8:06 am

      I think the theory is that small feet correlate with high oestrogen levels.

      Reply

      • I did some research and found a few studies that link small shoe size to higher natural delivery rates. (Which is somewhat ironic, considering these studies were initiated to validate the “small shoe size = small pelvis” obstetric urban legend). Here’s the most recent study (from 2006):
        http://www.jabfm.org/content/19/4/426.full

        Basically:

        smaller feet = smaller babies who are easier to deliver.
        Large feet = larger babies who need to be delivered via c-section

  5. Posted by Simon Eskow on February 16, 2014 at 10:35 pm

    It would make sense if all the cultural emphases on small feet, hip-waist ratio, height, etc., were rooted in biomechanics, amplified by sexual psychology, long before we invented fetishes.

    Reply

    • Yes, I think I know what you mean. I do like the idea that women’s swaying walk shows off their hip-waist ratio, and I noted that similar claims are made for women’s habit of shaking their hips suggestively (see the “Asian Cutie Shaking Her Hips” video here);

      https://davidcollard.wordpress.com/2013/09/24/human-female-proceptive-behaviour/

      and my comments.

      However this ability to show off their waist-hip ratio in simply walking, and more so in dancing, may simply be a “spandrel”, as the late Stephen Jay Gould used to say. That is, something that evolved as an epiphenomenon. In other words, women evolved broad hips for childbearing and this affected their movements, which fortuitously enabled their waist-hip ratio to be advertised.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spandrel_(biology)

      Ogas and Gaddam (cited above) work from within an adaptationist or evolutionary psychology approach, and claim that men are innately interested in certain parts of a woman’s body: chest and feet being examples. So, not just culture, although as they point out culture will have an influence on what they find when they look there, and men can get cued into whatever it may be. “Perfect lotus feet” for a Chinese man, once, or feet in stilettos for Western men more recently. Small breasts (popular during the Jazz Age in the West, and in China) or large breasts (popular in the West today).

      Reply

  6. Posted by Julian O'Dea on February 19, 2014 at 1:21 am

    http://www.returnofkings.com/27951/why-is-the-beautiful-female-hourglass-figure-being-attacked

    Somewhat relevant. I have seen some questionable claims on that LiveScience site too, if I recall correctly. There seem to be a few sites that present as science or business that contain a lot of progressive propaganda.

    Reply

  7. […] My previous thoughts on high heels. […]

    Reply

  8. […] In my previous post, I discussed women’s shoulders. I pointed out that light musculature around the neck was more attractive in women than heavier deltoid and trapezius muscles. Perhaps part of this effect is due to the way in which less bulk below and around the neck tends to make the neck look longer and more feminine. More bulk near the neck tends to make the entire neck area look thicker, perhaps in an analogous way to the unfortunate effect of “cankles”. […]

    Reply

  9. Posted by MNL on May 9, 2014 at 6:02 am

    I always thought that high heels were deemed “sexy” because they induce “lordosis” which is interpreted by many mammals as a female mating signal. Specifically, high heels tilt the pelvis and force a more pronounced ventral arch in the spine which makes mating a bit easier. …Think too of those big bustle dresses you’ve seen drawn from the 1880’s or so–the ones that exaggerated the curve at the small of a woman’s back. They were attractive back then for the same reason. (As is the pelvic tilt and pushing out of the butt that I see in a great many women’s over-the-shoulder selfie photos today). High heels–and the lordosis it causes–is simply one of many female proceptive behaviors (or what we more conveniently call “sexy,” for short).

    Reply

    • Posted by Julian O'Dea on May 9, 2014 at 11:19 am

      I am a bit sceptical about this because humans are bipedal and much of our mating behaviour has been moved to the frontal aspect. Women have prominent breasts high on their torsos; there is less emphasis on the rear and on a woman’s buttocks; and mating is typically face-to-face.

      However many men do still seem to find “butts” of great interest, although this might be due to their signalling fertility rather than sexual receptivity. African men seem particularly to admire buttocks and their women are proverbially bigger in this area. It would be interesting to know if rear entry is more common among blacks than whites.

      I recently noticed that even Wikipedia, which tends to be PC on such matters, recognises that the position women adopt in rear entry resembles lordosis:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doggy_style#General

      “The posture adopted by the receiving partner resembles lordosis behavior – a physical posture seen in many female mammals, often when they are ready for sex/mating, the primary characteristic of which is a ventral arching of the spine.”

      I suspect that high heels “work” in a range of ways. Not only by perhaps mimicking lordosis, but also simply by enhancing the normal curve of a woman’s back (which may have more to do with the need to carry a child during pregnancy than anything else).

      I would have once assumed that lordosis was too primitive a behaviour to be part of the human behavioural repertoire, but perhaps not. Some of these behaviours may be very primitive. I have written about “pacing” as a feature of both rat and human courtship behaviour.

      On a personal note, I have always found rear entry difficult, and it has only ever worked for me with the woman in a very uncomfortable position. It seems obvious to me that it is no longer a natural position for humans.

      Reply

  10. […] “Why the highest heels are the sexiest” […]

    Reply

  11. Posted by Julian O'Dea on November 20, 2014 at 2:57 am

    “High Heels May Enhance A Man’s Instinct To Be Helpful”:

    http://medicalxpress.com/news/2014-11-high-heels-instinct.html

    Reply

  12. Posted by Julian O'Dea on January 14, 2015 at 9:38 am

    http://www.returnofkings.com/7780/why-high-heels-are-attractive-on-women

    “So why do heels appeal to men such as myself?

    Because it makes women appear weak and defenseless. It brings out the masculine nature of men who want to protect women.”

    http://www.returnofkings.com/766/the-perfect-woman-heels

    “If you read my blog, you know I like heels. It’s an important feminine accessory that highlights a girl’s legs and increases the roundness of her ass. It serves as a mating call to men that she is ready to receive male attention. I don’t have scientific proof, but I believe the higher a girl’s heels, the warmer response you’ll get.”

    Reply

  13. Posted by Ayana on January 31, 2015 at 1:27 pm

    And yet, high heels were originally a male fashion!

    Reply

  14. Posted by Jim on January 31, 2015 at 9:28 pm

    I don’t get the foot binding thing in China or even wearing high heels.

    Foot binding can cripple the women who had to suffer from it. I don’t like this AT ALL. I’ve been accused of “hating women” because of my views on them (which is silly of course) and yet I despise this type of practice. Not because of some silly foot fetish but because it cripples women and can cause them a ton of pain. No need have women (or men) be in pain for no good reason.

    This is the same reason I would discourage women from wearing high heels. Hammer toe, foot, leg, and back problems and so on. Your feet hold up your entire body weight so it only makes sense to take care of them. Common sense, yes?

    Reply

  15. […] which is why high heels are considered “sexy”.” That is one theory, and I have written about the appeal of high heels here. A commenter here mentions “lordosis” as a possible factor. In that discussion, I tend […]

    Reply

  16. Posted by Julian O'Dea on June 19, 2015 at 1:22 pm

    One thing that occurred to me recently is this. There is a plethora of opinions on why high heels make a woman look sexy. They range from the idea that they cause a woman to mimic the primitive mammalian sexual posture of “lordosis” to the idea that they make a woman’s feet look smaller.

    However, take a look at those pictures at the top of this post. It is abundantly obvious that many of these theories miss the point, simply because the main sexy effect is on the shape or lineaments of the legs. I suspect that 99% of the effect is due to the way in which they enhance the curves of the thighs and calves.

    Reply

  17. Is all this related to Steve Sailer’s Law of Female Journalism? “The most heartfelt articles by female journalists tend to be demands that social values be overturned in order that, Come the Revolution, the journalist herself will be considered hotter-looking.”

    http://judgybitch.com/2015/07/02/jessica-valenti-is-obsessed-with-men-finding-her-sexy/

    Discusses, inter alia, high heels and their appeal.

    Reply

  18. […] I came across this on “why men love butts” recently and put it in a comment here on my old post on high heels and their psychology. […]

    Reply

  19. […] I have written before about why high heels make a woman’s legs attractive. […]

    Reply

  20. Posted by Julian O'Dea on May 15, 2016 at 10:42 pm

    “In These Shoes” – Kirsty MacColl.

    Reply

  21. […] have written previously about women in high heels. It occurs to me that a lot of the psychological appeal of high heels for women might be related to […]

    Reply

  22. Posted by kneeledbeauty on July 13, 2016 at 4:19 am

    i always think it’s interesting that high heels started out as Men’s fashion and then females began wearing them to look taller, so Men stopped. Personally, i think they look better on females. They do create a very attractive curve to the leg, making her look taller and i believe, draw the eye up the body.

    i have tried walking in heels but i can’t manage it. i prefer being barefoot most of the time, but occasionally i feel jealous of how sexy females look in them when i can’t do it.

    Reply

  23. Posted by Rikki on May 23, 2017 at 8:10 am

    I started wearing high heels at 13 and graduated to the highest of elegant heels that complemented my O so long legs.
    I still adore a beautiful shoe that accentuates the leg although heels donot fo everyone justice and it’s a high price for health to pay.
    I can no longer wear the shoes I love because of a painful toe injury caused when I tripped on torn lino on a local shop.
    So it’s sensible and comfort able for me which is healthier anyway and supports my back body long neck and healthy but starved vagina.
    A reminder that it is not the shoe but the person that attracts.

    Reply

    • Posted by Julian O'Dea on May 23, 2017 at 8:40 am

      My wife is pretty tall (5 foot 7 inches) and leggy. She doesn’t wear high heels much but when she has, they certainly enhance her legs.

      Reply

  24. Posted by Julian O'Dea on June 5, 2017 at 12:23 pm

    https://www.google.com.au/amp/www.independent.co.uk/news/science/the-secret-of-shapely-legs-revealed-8280628.html%3Famp

    “The secret of shapely legs revealed

    Curves and length signal both frailty and strength, finds Roger Dobson”

    Reply

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