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:
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:
(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:
(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 –
– 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:
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):
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 –
– 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 –
– 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.