For over 400 years, high heels have been a pop culture mainstay, elevating conversations about perceived femininity, performance and the exclusionary aspects of both. From Cinderella’s glass pumps to Dorothy’s silver clickers to Cardi B’s famous bloody shoes, heeled footwear is central to a few of the formative narratives we hold dear. It comes as no surprise then that some of us, even in the thick of a cozy renaissance due to the pandemic, still flock to the shoes that can blister our ankles and immolate our soles. Though one crew of scientists could ruffle some feathers with their prophesies of kitten heels creeping into our future.
Researchers from Shanghai’s Fudan University asked 1,263 women about their heels — specifically if the shoe’s height was under one inch to three inches. They discovered those with two inch heels had better sex lives since the slight rise made the pelvic muscles contract when standing. The chances of urinary troubles and bladder leaks decreased as well. So basically kitten heels are making people have better orgasms and assisting vaginal health.
Once again, the work to make climax possible falls on people with vaginas. This time, it loops in our sartorial choices, too.
Kitten heels are thought to have originated with Louis XVI, a literal short king who added a few inches to his height with heels of medium thickness. CR Fashion Book also reports the style came back into play during the 1950s, but only as prep for young girls who weren’t quite ready for stilettos. Today’s preferred shoe options typically lean towards retro sneakers, varying styles of boots, Versace’s thick-heeled ego stompers, Bottega Venata’s sandals and the like. Mini heels are believed by some to only be reserved for those with enough spare pens and judgement to pass around a sanctuary. But trends are pointing towards a new era wherein the baby heels are getting some credit for how they’re jazzed up.
Just last night, Lizzo attended Gucci Love Parade, an unveiling of the Italian brand’s newest styles, in a pair of slingback, logo-laden pumps. Vogue also considers baby heels to be great for walking down the aisle and Doja Cat lived up to her name when modeling some Valentino Garavani VLGO slingback shoes for her Instagram followers. So yes, kitten heels having a moment and may have some health benefits but what about the folks satisfied by kegel exercise and other forms of preventative activity?