Articles tagged with "Gender Stereotypes"
In this article the Bright Side website highlights the growing confidence of men in heels and explores the possible reasons why.
"It’s not known by everybody, but men did wear heels in the past, long before women started wearing them. High heels were originally designed for men, but this faded over the past centuries. However, surprisingly, heels seem to be breaking their way back into men’s fashion again, as more and more celebs have started to embrace their feminine side by wearing their favourite pair of heels."
"statistics show that the sales of heeled men’s shoes have been on an upturn since 2017. More and more men are embracing their femininity and showing off their beloved heels more confidently than ever."
"High heels are still associated with women’s fashion in the modern day, though more and more celebrities, like pop icons and rock stars, are keeping this trend alive for men. The expansion of heels in the male section at stores has gone beyond the stiletto.
Many different types of heeled shoes have become available. Designer brands, like Gucci, Maison Margiela, and Saint Laurent, knew that heeled shoes would break into men’s fashion again and took the opportunity to develop new models in this category."
While the article presumes that all men that wear heels are getting more in touch with their feminine side, which is somewhat stereotypical, it's generally a positive perspective and worth a read.
Posted: 2 days ago
Power of Leather blog post by Deni (@d.e.n.i_c), takes us on a brief history of the high heel, how they are loved by men and women alike.
Deni highlights a great point from The Age of Enlightenment that "Males were stereotyped as practical and rational, whereas women were seen as sentimental, making them better suited for heels than men", and adds a great quote about stereotypes...
"The problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story." - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
It's certainly great to see a growing number of people blogging about men wearing heels and boots.
Original URL: https://www.powerofleather.com/post/heels-heels-heels
Posted: 11 September 2022
Women Working magazine website brings us another report on Mark Bryan (@MarkBryan911), the 61 year old American Robotics Engineer who is legendary for rocking high heels on Instagram. With over 660,000 followers, he conveys a firm sense of his own style for high heels, and certainly provides an inspirational fashion and style narrative which includes the mantra that "Clothes and shoes should not dictate a persons sexual orientation or gender".
Mark comments about how he feels he appears to other people - "You look up and see this person, your mind tells you it’s a person with green hair, you think to yourself, ‘That’s odd or interesting,’ then you go back to do what you were doing and don’t give it another thought"
To Mark, a man in heels and a skirt is normal, and we can all take some inspiration from him. If he can do it, we can all do it!
Posted: 30 August 2022
Is the term ‘Cross-dresser’ out-dated in today’s society?
Before we can answer that question, some definitions may be useful.
Cross-dressing: is the act of wearing items of clothing not commonly associated with one's sex. Cross-dressing has been used for purposes of disguise, comfort, comedy, and self-expression in modern times and throughout history.
Almost every human society throughout history has had expected norms for each gender relating to style, colour, or type of clothing they are expected to wear, and likewise most societies have had a set of guidelines, views or even laws defining what type of clothing is appropriate for each gender.
The term "cross-dressing" refers to an action or a behaviour, without attributing or implying any specific causes or motives for that behaviour. Cross-dressing is not synonymous with being transgender.
Another term for cross-dressing is Transvestitism. Someone who engages in Cross-dressing/Transvestitism is called a Cross-dresser(CD)/Transvestite(TV), although the term Transvestite is now commonly considered outdated and disrespectful. The term Transvestite (often shortened to the slang term "Tranny") was historically used as a slur against people who wore clothes of the opposite sex. Cross-dresser is now a much more accepted term. Cross-dresser was coined by the transgender community.
MtF and FtM Cross-dresser: A man who dresses in women's clothing is a male to female (MtF) cross-dresser. a woman who dressing in men's clothing is a female to male (FtM) cross-dresser. For women, the term is seldom used and the wearing of trousers/pants/men's shirts is often discounted as cross-dressing. This is because in our current society, male clothing is often considered gender-neutral. Therefore when someone uses the term "cross-dresser", the focus shifts mainly towards a MtF cross-dresser.
With those definitions made, two additional points are important to recognise:
a). Cross-dressing as it relates to Transgender: Wearing clothes intended for the opposite sex does not mean that the person identifies as the opposite sex. It is different from being Transgender or Transsexual. When transgender people dress according to their gender identity it is not necessarily the same as cross-dressing.
It is important to know that a cross-dresser does not necessarily have body or gender dysphoria (gender dysphoria means feeling uncomfortable with their body and gender they were born with), they are perfectly happy with their gender assigned at birth and have no desire to change their sex, but simply enjoy being able to cross-dress from time to time. However, Transgender describes people who feel that their gender identity is different from their biological sex.
Most transgender people do not appreciate being called cross-dressers, and for good reason. As they are wearing clothes of their own gender identity they consider themselves, and should be considered by others as the gender they are dressing in. A Transgender woman wearing women's clothes is not a cross-dresser, nor is she a drag queen. She is just a woman. Similarly, a Transgender man, wearing men's clothes is not a cross-dresser, nor is he a drag king. He is just a man.
b). Cross-dressing as it relates to Drag: A cross-dresser should not be confused with drag queens/kings. Drag is a special form of performance art based on the act of cross-dressing. Drag queens are usually male performance artists who dress in female character. Drag Kings are mostly female performance artists who dress in male character.
Now, to get down to answering the question...
As gender refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviours, expressions and identities of girls, women, boys, men, and gender diverse people we can deconstruct that concept. While the term Cross-dresser works well for some people, as it has for years, for many others they do not feel that it works well for them. For non-binary or agender people (who don't identify with the gender binary of male & female) who want to wear certain clothes as part of their gender expression, feel that the term is obstructive and often offensive towards them. With the realisation that clothes have no gender, a skirt or a pair of trousers are essentially just coloured and textured fabric cut and sewn into a garment. The clothes know nothing of gender other than that assigned to them by their creator. The same, of course applies to shoes - high heels are not women's shoes... they are just high heels.
A growing number of people believe that today's socially constructed gender stereotypes don't serve us well in enabling fully inclusive gender expression that recognises our diversity. With the central fact that gender is a social construct, gender labelling of clothing is also a therefore also social construct and can equally be challenged and deconstructed. Gender labelling of clothing perpetuates the construct, but in more recent years this is slowly changing with manufacturers and retailers removing, or neutralising gender labelling on clothes and on signage in stores.
Manufacturers and retailers, now too numerous to mention, are also making items of clothing more traditionally intended for a single sex for both sexes, while recognising that the key differentiator is not actually our biological sex, but our body shape. Does the term cross-dresser still stand up when the clothes have no gender labels? Maybe not.
All clothing, of whatever shape, colour, texture or style has been worn by both sexes as normal daily wear at some point in history, so why do we have gendered clothing now? Visual communication is one of the many reasons we dress the way we do. Our gender identity is expressed visually through what we wear, as can be our social status or rank within an organisation. Sometimes our visual appearance, what we wear, make-up, hairstyle, skin colour, whether rightly or wrongly, can trigger others around us through our learned and often habituated social conditioning to make a judgement on how they should interact with us. Aside from organisational ranking, we should not treat people differently because of their appearance. Everyone is born equal and should be treated as such. Does what they wear really matter more than their actions and achievements as a person?
In conclusion, the term Cross-dresser is fine for a socially constructed world in which there is a gender binary, but it does not work well in a non-binary world where gender is expressed on a spectrum and where many believe that clothing has no gender to start with. When it comes to the use of the term today, if the logic used to describe a man in "women's" clothes as a crossdresser does not hold when applied to a woman wearing "men's" clothes - it's not logic, it's sexism.
When clothing has no gender there are no lines to "cross", hence no cross-dressing and why we therefore believe that the term cross-dresser is out-dated and should decline in use.
Posted: 27 July 2022
People say you’re gay if you’re a man who wears high heels or boots... Is that true?
It may be true that people say that, but it’s certainly not true that any item of clothing or footwear can ever change your sexuality when you put it on. To even suggest that is ridiculous.
In talking to various people during my research for this answer it was by no means conclusive that gay men are more likely than anyone else to wear heels and boots. They don’t need anyone’s judgement any more than anyone of any other sexual orientation, straight, bi or otherwise who want to express themselves with their clothing choices, but one thing is certain it’s not clothes that determine any person’s sexual orientation.
Deconstructing gender stereotypes is the key to changing this situation. There are many on Instagram who are behind that movement and call it out. We all need to play a part if we want to freely express ourselves. Raising awareness via Instagram other social media and blogs will help, but we also need open and honest conversations with the people around us. While we may be comfortable, familiar and accepting of the notion that clothes have no gender and don’t dictate your sexual orientation, to most people that will be a new concept, so perhaps it's time for a coffee and a chat...
Thank you again to everyone who contacted me with their perspectives on this topic during my research. Much appreciated.
Comments from our readers
We had some great comments on this question posted on our Instagram page for previous posts of this Q&A issue...
"No, you’re a person who just happens to like them. Nothing about being gay or straight etc. Do women who dress like a man get called gay"
"As a pre op transgender wearing heels comes naturally to me, even driving in 3 inch block heels no problem"
"After all it is simply an item of clothing. And when you go back and look at the history of boots particularly over the knee boots and thigh high boots they were originally designed hundreds of years ago for men all of this stereotyping people has got to stop gender neutral fashions should be everywhere and we should just be allowed to wear what we want wearing a pair of boots that are marketed for women is not a sign of being gay it’s just a freedom of your own expression. I seriously wish all boot Manufacturers would start marketing to men there are so many of us out there they enjoy the pleasure of wearing a pair of boots design for women and are afraid to come out there is no reason to be afraid times are changing but they need to change quicker."
"Speaking as a heterosexual happily married man who has enjoyed a lifelong passion for wearing women’s boots primarily low heeled or up to an inch and a half out in public for many, many years under my jeans. I do not agree that you are a gay man who wears them. I simply feel complete and comfortable wearing boots over normal shoes but that does not make me gay at all I have no desire to make love to someone of the same sex. I am not against that. I believe everybody should have the right to live their life really and express themselves as long as they are not hurting anyone. You’re absolutely right the time has come to do away with a stereotype labels put on people."
"Only a few gay guys appreciate high heels. They even often hate them because it’s woman related."
"Of course everyone is free to wear whatever they like, and should! Speaking purely from my experience, I’d say it is more common to find straight guys who are into traditionally feminine shoes like high heels. Gay guys are often into traditionally masculine boots like motorcycle or combat boots. In other words, if you are attracted to women you like women’s shoes and if you are attracted to men you will prefer men’s shoes. So perhaps which kind of footwear one likes does have something to do with sexual orientation—just not in the way many people think."
Posted: 15 July 2022
Do you ever get weird looks from people when you're wearing heels?
Do you ever get weird looks from people when you're wearing heels?
Thanks @sinchii.e606 that's a good question!
I do get looks and people's expressions are often puzzled, but then they are seeing something that they are not used to seeing so that is going to take some thought to process how they feel about it. You are breaking social stereotypes and to a lot of people this will be something new and can feel threatening to them.
If you are different, and let's face it, it's not hard to be different when you're a man wearing high heeled shoes or boots, then you are going to stand out from the crowd a little and attract some attention. The vast majority of men wearing heels don't actually want any attention, we just want to live authentically and wear the clothes and shoes which we like.
The key here is confidence. When you feel good about what you are wearing before you go out that will show through. Express yourself authentically and you will have the rock solid belief in what you are doing. Go about your business as normal and remember that you are not responsible for the version of you that is in someone else's head - that's on them.
Think about the times when you've seen something out of the ordinary when you've been out and about. Do you look longer at it? Does your face express your confusion about what you're seeing? It's not unusual to process new things in this way.
In the countless times I've worn heels in public, I have yet to have anyone make a comment about them, but yes I do get people look. From many other men who wear heels, the comments they receive are almost always positive. In any case, I want them to look, we need them to look, we need this to be normalised for any men who want to wear heels. That needs every one of us to be wearing heels in public every day that we can.
If you're struggling for the confidence to wear higher heels more than you would normally do in public, use some of the strategies I've provided in these Q&A posts to help. Start out with Cuban heels and work your way up. Once that is normalized, heels for men will get slimmer and taller and before long we may well see a day when men in stilettos won't seem so unusual at all.
Posted: 3 July 2022
Why are gender stereotypes bad?
A gender stereotype is defined as an overgeneralisation of characteristics, differences and attributes of a certain group based on their gender. Typically this is most widely understood in the context of the gender binary of men and women. For example, women are often portrayed as being emotional, caring, nurturing and in need of protection. Men are often characterised as being leaders, rational, career driven and strong. However, a gender stereotype is harmful when it limits the group’s capacity to develop their personal abilities, pursue professional careers and/or make choices about their lives.
Other examples are where assertive women are called “bitches” and “whores”, while men who don’t appear or act masculine are called “sissies” or “wimps” or assumed to be gay, which is a very offensive stereotype in the LGBTQIA+ community.
Gender stereotypes are complex and originate from local culture and traditions. Children learn what constitutes female and male behaviour from their family and friends, the media and institutions including schools and religious bodies. Gender stereotypes can have an adverse effect on all genders, as young people find themselves regularly exposed to messages about how boys and girls should look, behave and play. These socially accepted and often unconscious ideas start to form in infancy.
Gender stereotyping results from unconscious biases held by all of us. Unconscious bias happens when our subconscious makes assumptions about people based on their background or perceived background.
Everyone has unconscious biases. An individual can be unconsciously influenced by a stereotype even if they do not rationally subscribe to it. Becoming aware of our biases and working to counter them is an important way to combat the negative effects of gender stereotypes.
Unconscious bias arises because we have to process vast amounts of information every second. In order to avoid being overwhelmed, our brains have to make assumptions based on previous experience and find patterns to speed up decision making.
However, these assumptions tend to be based on simple characterisations of people such as their age, race or gender. They are communicated through micro-messages such as body language and choice of words. This is more likely to happen when we are stressed or tired, and can cause problems by affecting our beliefs and treatment of others.
As our society moves to a broader construct of what “gender” means, individuals who are stuck in this binary idea of gender have a difficult time wrapping their brains around individuals who do not fit into a strict gender dichotomy, or do not identify with any gender at all.
We are easily thrown in terms of our interactions with others for whom our brain has not been programmed to stereotype to some degree. This is because stereotyping enables us to make sense of the world – at least sometimes. Someone who considers themselves “Gender Fluid,” or “Gender non-conforming,” threatens the stereotypes we are familiar with and for that reason can seem is weird and/or threatening because we can’t even stereotype them.
Mainstream media & advertising have a powerful role to play in defining the gender stereotypes that we perceive, so much so that in June 2019 the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in the UK banned "gender stereotypes that are likely to cause harm, or serious or widespread offence" following a review.
The ASA said the review had found evidence suggesting that harmful stereotypes could "restrict the choices, aspirations and opportunities of children, young people and adults and these stereotypes can be reinforced by some advertising, which plays a part in unequal gender outcomes".
"Our evidence shows how harmful gender stereotypes in ads can contribute to inequality in society, with costs for all of us. Put simply, we found that some portrayals in ads can, over time, play a part in limiting people's potential," said ASA chief executive Guy Parker.
Media defines culture, and culture defines change. Individuals may see thousands of advertising messages a day in social media, TV, movies, newspapers or magazines. Those messages matter, because they influence our perceptions of gender.
When it comes to the portrayal of men in media, the fact is that harmful stereotypes do exist about what it means to be masculine, focusing on power dynamics, domination of other men, subjugation of women, violence and aggression. When this gender inequality occurs in the background of gender stereotyping, this is in the most basic sense sexism.
We’ve written new scripts for our daughters about strength and leadership, which are slowly starting to gain representation in media, but what about our sons? What do we want to redefine about their future manhood? New definitions can emerge, though they are often in conflict of our understanding of the world through existing stereotypes. The quantity and quality of advertising messages will largely determine how quickly and how well new roles are defined and adopted by men.
We need to stop seeing challenges to rigid gender roles as a threat, and instead question what’s working for us now and what’s no longer working. The truth is that some gender stereotypes can hold both men and women back from being the best that they can be - and impact our mental health.
Take some time to evaluate the gender stereotypes you frequently encounter and ask yourself whether they truly work to elevate your potential equally alongside others or at their expense because of their gender. Are they genuinely a threat to you or are you simply unconsciously obeying gender stereotype programming which you’ve received since you were born?
When we see a gender non-conforming person in our daily life experience, men in heels being only one example, we should recognise not only the privileges we have in our own position, but the background of inequality within which they have risen through with the mental strength and courage to step outside in the face of gender stereotyping. We may judge them for being "weird", within our own limited experience, or we can regard them as a strong, courageous and individual blueprint for new and positive role models.
Posted: 21 June 2022
How can we make it normal for men to wear high heels or long boots?
Being active regularly on social media is helpful in getting our message to "cross-over" into mainstream life. You Tube, TikTok, Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook can all be used effectively and can often use the same content created for one on another. Learn about hashtags and use them effectively - they are vital to getting noticed. Creating a new account is often a good idea and can help to keep your content focused and on-topic, which drives follower engagement and retention. If you're not getting (and keeping) the followers you want, make sure you're only posting about topics relevant to their interest.
We can all play our part in social media and in addition to going out there and doing it every day, our community needs us to share our shoe collections, our outfits, our public experiences with whatever level of personal expression we feel comfortable with. Being visible, loud and proud on social media is the key to effecting real change. Refrain from making critical comments when your own profile is empty or has very little content - your voice will be heard louder if you can clearly demonstrate that you walk your talk.
Creating a blog website to blog about wearing heels and boots will reach a wider audience than Instagram alone. It can also funnel traffic to your other social media accounts.
You'll probably already have a great deal of content from your social media account (your photos etc), all you need is a little narrative to tell a good story and your website will work well in attracting visitors. Regularly promote your site on social media.
Some great blogs on high heels and boots can be found at:
Support and ally with other minority groups. Align yourself alongside LGBTQIA+, Feminists and anyone actively gender bending and de-gendering fashion
Support each other by making positive comments on social media, cross-posting and promoting other people's posts and profiles. We'll all achieve more, faster by working together as a community.
Every time you venture out you have an opportunity to educate more people and give them a different perspective on how they look at men in what they would normally consider women's clothes. Many people are still unaware of gender issues. Some may find it un-settling at first as we're challenging the status quo... Be kind.
Be alert to gender-labelling of non-gendered items and call people out on it! The less gendered our world becomes, the better it will be for everyone, us heeled shoe wearers included.
Educate yourself on men's heel history, fashion and gender issues, it will give you more confidence in yourself and help you develop your style.
Be mindful of sexualisation - don't confuse fashion and fetish. If you have a fetish for anything, that is fine, but keep it private and keep it separate from anything fashion related.
As Nike says "Just do it". Take every opportunity you can to wear heels or boots in public. The more people see it, the more it will become normal.
Some things that would also be helpful, but are largely out of our control are
Seeing more men in heels in mass-media Movies, TV series, newspapers and magazines and not just because they are wearing heels, but as matter of fact every day fashion. It's time to change-up the narrative from men in heels being there for shits-and-giggles, because frankly that's getting boring.
Older generations appreciating that the norms that they live by are not the norms that WE live by. We're going to break your norms because they don't have the same value to us as they did for you.
(Credit to @alex.anton061 for these two topics).
Comments from our readers
We had some great comments on this question posted on our Instagram page for previous posts of this Q&A issue, from both men and women...
"I feel the only way to that is to bring back Cuban heels to mainstream men’s fashion like skinny jeans. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but unless we start with mainstream Cuban heels, high heels will have no chance in men’s mainstream fashion."
"Sadly society have stereotypes about this and wants to quietly shame us for this." ...and we say "Thanks, but we say to hell with gender stereotypes! they are just an out-dated product of the patriarchal society that we live in. The shame is on the people who perpetuate them!!"
"Lead by example. I live in a small town, but still wear heels and/or boots - and dresses or skirts - almost every day. And reactions are almost only positive! ❤️ Even the few, that gave me strange looks, in the beginning are now used to it, and see it as a natural thing, that I dress the way I prefer! 🙏"
"Be confident. And be visible. That makes it fit the norm."
"The more men wear them, the more normal it becomes!"
"Same as guys wearing any formerly masculine style that got appropriated by women...guys just have to get out in them as men, even if "looking" feminine. Clothing does not change one's sex."
"You just do it. I make it normal for myself"
"It will take companies to start making more larger sizes. And market, market, market to men too. Just like Birkenstock big buckle sandals. They stop at size 11. They need to at least go up to 16. I would love to get several of them but no size 14. I wear a size 12 in men's. So that's what it's going to take. We can't wear drag heels and boots all the time. 'Even though I love them' 🙂"
"Normal is majority... more the merrier scenario. Acceptance will return if retail label some high heels as MEN'S. It will take the major retailers to sell them and then the men with the balls to wear them. It will become normal again. If the mullet haircut can return... anything is possible if enough embrace the trend and the trend is marketed"
"As far as I’m concerned it already is, I do it and I consider myself to be normal lol 😂"
"Honestly try to avoid anger when people make comments or laugh. We have to stand tall shoulders back and be proud. No matter what and where your background is."
"You never will, what is normal to one person will not be to the next. You just have to do what feels right for you and if it doesn't please some people that's their problem and if they get over it then that's up to them. You can't truly define normal."
"The behaviour and style of the mainstream is the 'normal'. But minority groups with a goal have the chance for change something. For example women in trousers. For men in skirts, heels, leggings or anything else of female clothing it's the same. We have the right to wear it and we can do. Without Instagram or other platforms in the web, every man in 'wrong' clothes was the only person who do this. With the visibility in the web, every man can see there are any other man doing the same. And the mainstream also see that there more men doing this. And while these men doing and connecting, the trend hunter of the big companies seeing it too. For an example, three years ago ASOS didn't sell swim thongs for men. Actually the do and not only normal thongs, tie side thongs and bikinis for men. Buy what you want, wear what you want with confidence and write reviews at the retailer websites. If the companies see the communication from the customer, they think about developing and offer products for men. ASOS started to sell their shoes in the women department in bigger sizes. They well spotted the trend. It's a crosslinked evolutions starting with our steps which need a little bit self-confidence: 1. Buy the item, with the mindset "it's normal what I'm doing here." 2. Wear/use the item with the mindset "It's normal what I'm doing here." 3. React to weird views or dumb comments/question with the attitude and mindset "I really don't understand you because it's normal what I'm doing here." 4. Ask the employees in the store for assistance when you need and act normal when trying on with the attitude/mindset "It's normal what I'm doing here, so why should I not or should I hide." Sounds easier than it is, but it works and brings you in a positive mood/vibes. Let us start it."
Posted: 9 June 2022
Danish magazine 'BT' brings us an interview with Charoline Wenke and Anders Harder Bjerresgaard, originally published in 'ALT for the ladies' magazine and translated here from Danish via Google Translate.
The article introduces us to the couple and their relationship journey, from their early days exploring Anders' gender fluid fashion style and his passion for high heels to present day, and some of the triumphs and challenges they have encountered along the way. It's not always been easy, but they are both very happy together and want to share their story in the hope that it will inspire others to explore their self-expression too.
Posted: 7 June 2022
There are some great blogs on the web and this post from Resha caught my attention as I feel it speaks to many of us who just want to wear what we want without judgement.
"Almost everyone has an opinion on a everyone’s appearance. Some people just have the decency to keep it to themselves."
"The problem is that there isn’t an outfit that anyone can wear without being judged."
Posted: 19 May 2022
This article from Medium suggests that maybe it's time to enable people to not feel limited in their fashion expression to the clothing sections that match the gender they were assigned at birth. It's a thought provoking read and certainly offers a step in the right direction.
Posted: 10 May 2022
Why do men want to wear high heels?
It's a good question and not as stereotypical an answer as you might expect...
There may be a number of reasons why men would want to wear high heels. To many women who regularly wear high heels and endure pain and discomfort from wearing heels, the idea may seem absurd, until you also consider the many women who still endure that pain and discomfort for the obvious attractions that heels bring. Many men have similar reasons for wanting to wear heels as women do.
A growing number of people believe that clothes and shoes should not dictate a persons sexual orientation or gender and for that reason alone they will wear whatever they want, regardless of which (usually binary) gender label has been attached to the clothing or shoes. It's a refreshing idea if you've always stuck to social norms around gender stereotypes. It ultimately means, if you like it, wear it and for many men, dressing like this is liberating and provides an outlet for self expression. More recently this idea has been expressed by high profile stars such as Harry Styles and Justin Bieber, though it has been the case for many years with stars such as Prince and David Bowie wearing clothes labelled for different genders.
For some men an extra height boost is one reason. This can bring additional confidence and especially when your partner is also wearing heels it can restore the height differential which male and female partners often desire.
For more fashion conscious men, the reason may be to be just be different from the crowd, more fashion forward, and they will often be more adventurous with the rest of their clothing choices, seeking more distinctive fabrics, colours, textures and patterns. Many men are simply bored with the same old re-cycled options on offer in the mens section and want something different. With this dissatisfaction often comes a desire to change the aesthetic of their outfits by mixing and matching from all the options on offer and higher heels can instantly change the look of an outfit.
Some men want to express outwardly how they feel about their gender. More recent publicity of gender and how it's expressed in almost limitless terms when you consider gender as non-binary, can help some men feel like they have way of explaining why they want to wear heels.
Sometimes men are simply just curious about what it's like to walk in heels and may capitalise on any suitable opportunity to try it out. We've often heard the expression "to walk a mile in someone else's shoes" as a metaphor for understanding someone's experience, however in literal terms, men can also fully experience a flavour of what it's like for a woman to wear heels.
Diversion is another reason why men wear heels. Some men enjoy playing with that taboo that comes with gender boundaries and the experience can either be a form of mockery or great reverence for women or social constructs around gender standards.
A more stereotypical view of a man in heels is the practice of cross-dressing. Where a man, typically heterosexual, will dress entirely in women's clothing. The same term also applies to women who dress in men's clothes, though the term is seldom used when women cross-dress. Cross-dressers may derive a sense of peace or euphoria from dressing entirely in women's clothing, some may also derive sexual pleasure from it. Synonymous with "cross-dresser" is the term "Transvestite" although this is outdated and often viewed as offensive, as is the "Tranny" slang version.
Transgender people may wear high heels for any of the reasons above, though more usually to help affirm their gender identity. Most transgender people seek to bring their bodies into alignment with their gender identity. This is called transition. Some men realise that their biological sex and gender are fundamentally misaligned and for them, this is a way for them to express their true gender. Like all people, many transgender women will want to wear high heels, though this is not always the case. Their gender is every bit as valid as everyone else's and is often reflected in how they express themselves.
In conclusion, there are many reasons why a man would want to wear high heels, or anything else for that matter. All are valid reasons and are perfectly fine. As awareness of this trend increases, you're likely to see more men expressing themselves in this way. For men's fashion, breaking these long-standing gender stereotypes is perhaps long over-due!
Comments from our readers
We had some great comments on this question posted on our Instagram page for previous posts of this Q&A issue, from both men and women...
"Totally agree with this! I think shoes and heels should be for anyone and everyone! Same with all types of clothing. On a basic level, it's just material that covers your body, on a complex level it's how you want to feel and for me wearing heels feels amazing!! And it's not necessarily about attraction... But I have to say a liberated confident man in heels is very sexy to me 😉 xox"
"Because they look so sexy"
"I like to wear high heels just because I love how they look, and I love how I look in them, so why not wear them. Besides fighting with toxic masculinity, I might say that I also find somehow challenging to find everything I like in my size (women's size 13). Things are much better than ten years ago, there are many brands that offer these sizes, but most common and commercial brands still have to realize that there is a growing demand they could serve. Hopefully soon."
"About 40 years ago Marks & Spencer actually sold riding boots for men, I bought a pair, the main part were ox-blood in colour with a black ridge at the top and a small wedge heel, sadly I sold them a few years later, I'm also at an age when platform boots were on trend, mine were red and yellow with a beautiful chunky heel, and also of course I had the multi coloured flowered shirt with same matching tie, and thin brown leather pants, oh to have that 28 inch waist again"
"In the animal world , especially birds, it is the male that has the brightest plumage, so why do guys have to be in dark and boring clothing, I always love to wear ladies coloured gloves, at first I was not confident, I always imagined that everyone would be staring at me, In most cases people just don't care what you wear"
"Why are we doing this? Because we do not only like to see high-heeled shoes on women, but also like to wear them ourselves. We feel good in high heels! They give us and our gait quite grace, but also strength. There is also a sense of self-confidence when we walk in high heels. As a man, in particular, you need more courage and skill, but also the strength and charisma to express this in a positive way."
"Hi, I just came across your page and I absolutely love that there are guys who enjoy wearing heels, flats, boots, etc... Me personally for some time have a strong belief that clothes/shoes have no gender and that it's for everyone! I am a 21 year old gay male who enjoys wearing heels and flats as well as makeup and accessories because I want to express my personality and be my own person that is different from everyone else."
"I have legs, feet and thighs that I would truly find hot in any woman but I am a man. Therefore I look better with nylons, skirts and heels. That’s just body and I accept it. Why can’t I show myself at my best without being labelled with a gender or sexual orientation that is really not correct?"
"I wear women’s boots because they make me feel complete"
"Because we can 🤷🏻♂️"
"When I go into a department store for men's gloves, the gloves are functional but lack any style or fit, so always head for the ladies gloves, so many colours and really a nice tight fit"
"I wear high heels 👠 and women’s clothes despite being 6’2” for a few reasons. One is because men’s clothes are (for the most part) boring and pedestrian. I’m a little different from a lot of Xdressers in that I don’t desire to be or impersonate a woman. I have no desire to appear female. I’m a straight man who is into fashion, and I look hot as hell in a miniskirt and heels. And lastly, there’s some internal drive, be it a past life remnant or a genetic punctuation, or anything, that gifts me the super power to live life outside the box. I exercise this super power to help other men learn that they too can grow this super power. As I say on my page, the first time a “Dude Bro” sees a man in heels and a skirt, he sees a gay alien 👽 who has come to abduct and convert him. By the third time he sees this, he sees a human being. That’s why I do it. It only takes three times to normalize it."
"You're absolutely right!! Men's everyday wear is so pedestrian and dull. I always bitch about how women's clothing has more color, style and design. I hate when I see a great shirt and its a women's small and they don't have it in men's sizes. And the shoes... I'm crazy about stiletto's and boots."
"It's very simple, have you seen them? They are just beautiful! 😁 My only reason haha."
"I would love to wear heels all the time I just feel more comfortable wearing them. Men’s shoes suck and I don’t own any"
"Never judge a book by it's cover, the same could equally be said when it comes to meeting other people, whatever their gender is"
"Wear what you want!"
"Because a pair of heels changes an average outfit to a much nicer one. So as not so many women still wear heels, then I do it myself."
Posted: 4 May 2022
Kidadl takes some of the confusion out of raising a child that wants to wear clothes not normally associated with their gender. Kids are born open-minded and are taught social norms by us, like what clothes a boy or a girl normally wears. This is also reinforced by their experience in the world around them. While this article is aimed at boys wearing girls clothes, it applies equally to girls wearing boys clothes, although through deeply engrained patriarchal practice, that has not been seen as carrying the same social stigma. The article concludes that it's fine for a boy to wear "girls" clothes, which it should, as clothes have no gender, and that we should encourage our kids to live as their authentic selves.
It's encouraging to see articles like this as it does seem to show that attitudes towards gender and clothing are changing. Our children are our future hopefully they carry a new hope for future fashion.
Posted: 17 January 2022
This is a great article from Polyglot Group, a global Human Resources company and provides a perspective on gender equality in the work place.
- How does this relate to men in heels?!
"Equality is not just a women’s issue.
This is also the main message of #HeForShe, the UN Women campaign that sparked global debate about the place of men in contemporary feminism.
Launched in 2014, the initiative calls 'men and people of all genders to stand in solidarity with women to create a bold, visible and united force for gender equality'."
- How does this contribute to the slow pace of change in men's fashion?
"Today, traditional gender roles only serve to restrict people, confining them to stereotypes and tropes born out of an antiquated society and public consciousness.
In fact, the perpetuation of these stereotypes is largely how gender inequality and injustice have endured throughout human history."
- Why a man in heels visualises an important message for all...
"Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong… it is time that we all perceive gender on a spectrum, not as two opposing sets of ideas."
Well worth a read.
Posted: 19 November 2021
This article from Teen Vogue, published in 2017, highlights an exhibition on shoes at Savannah College of Art and Design and delves into the origin of the high heeled shoe. By now, many of us know the origin of high heels, but for the uninitiated, take a look at this interesting article on where they came from.
Original URL: https://www.teenvogue.com/story/heels-history-men
Posted: 5 October 2021
The Daily Targum looks at gender, society and fashion trends and concludes that men can wear dresses, heels or whatever else makes them feel good.
Posted: 21 August 2021
Posted: 26 July 2021
This article from Fashion Journal in 2020 asks a pointed question “Why is fashion still gendered in 2020?” and suggests that segreated clothing in stores may soon be a thing of the past. It highlights Androngenous dressing as one factor driving the change and how we are re-thinking the purpose of clothing.
Posted: 2 July 2021
This article by @edsullivan2 from the brilliant InStyle magazine (@instylemagazine) explores how spaces like TikTok, Instagram and YouTube have given androgonous stylists, post-gender visionaries and queer creatives the freedom to embrace their authentic selves, tools to build a platform, and potential to have a wide reach and impact. We see how people like @tripleminor, @wisdm, @alokvmenon, @sammyratelle, @elierlick, @jayybeech, @bethanycmeyers, @nicotortorella and @patrickchurchny are successfully challenging fashion boundaries and taking fashion influence from the streets to social media.
Posted: 20 June 2021
This article from the New York Times reflects upon how people have redefined themselves during lockdown and experimented with the wearing of dresses and other clothing normally considered feminine. Inspired by the appearances on TV of stars such as Kid Cudi and Lil Nas X wearing dresses and skirts people are eschewing gender stereotypes and bringing in a new era where clothing can no longer be considered a “tell” for anything.
Posted: 17 June 2021