British Columbia Makes It Illegal To Force Women To Wear Heels To Work

by Jessicah Lahitou
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

The wearing of high heels is rife with complexity and varying opinions, but one fact that has stayed consistent over time? Only women have ever been compelled to don them for work purposes. Thanks to a new law in British Columbia, forcing female employees to wear heels will no longer be legal for resident Canadians.

For all the ladies out there who have ever winced (or worse) while removing a heel at the end of a long work day, this news is gold. For all their glorious fashion possibilities, high heels are quite simply painful for many women — especially if they're required to stand on their feet all day.

Such was the case in a Facebook post that went viral a year ago. A restaurant worker was forced to work in high heels, as were all female employees, barring exceptions for medical reasons. Nicola Gavins, a friend of one Joey employee, snapped pictures of the restaurant worker's feet after she'd been forced to wear heels. Her feet, shoes, and socks were all bloodied, and Gavins said her friend had lost a toenail due to the heels requirement. She'd also been "berated" by her boss for switching to flats. The story is largely credited for British Columbia's new legislation making such a mandated dress code illegal.

There's also the not-small reality that high heels are horrible for women's health. As outlined in Women's Health, the physical repercussions from strutting around in heels can be enormous. From the aesthetically unpleasant (blisters and the occasional ingrown toenail) to the literally crippling (nerve damage, osteoarthritis, and general difficulty in the walking department), heels are not a woman's best friend — particularly if she doesn't want to wear them in the first place.

Add the pain to the bodily damage, and it's actually shocking that anyone is required to wear heels, especially given we're living in the year 2017.

Gender-specific dress codes can be unfair on both sides. What person, male or female, genuinely wants to pull a knot tie around their own neck every morning? Sure, it might look good (personal opinion: it does), but like high heels, fashion only takes you so far. The precedence of comfort has to kick in at some point.

And what about U.S. companies? In New York, current law does not explicitly ban companies from mandating high heels, but it's almost impossible to imagine that any employers will ever demand such a thing. That's because the law would require that men also be given a high heel mandate. Likelihood of this happening: zero percent.

So thank you to British Columbia for putting down in legal ink the right of all women not to suffer pain and bodily damage in the name of a company's preferred aesthetic. Now, perhaps we can all move on to making office dress codes more friendly and egalitarian across the board.