When it comes to dressing for work, it’s all about practicality, right? Sure, if you work in an office or a customer facing job you need to look presentable, but it’s all about getting the job done.
Well, that’s what you might think, but in Japan women are still forced to wear high heels to work, a practice which the country’s health and labour minister has deemed ‘necessary and appropriate.’
Tajumi Nemoto’s comments come after a group of badass women launched a petition calling on the government to ban employers from forcing female staff to work in heels.
However, the minister denied the petition, as per The Guardian, instead telling a legislative committee:
It is socially accepted as something that falls within the realm of being occupationally necessary and appropriate.
That’s all well and good, but I highly doubt Nemoto has ever done an entire day’s work in heels, and if he had, he might feel differently the ‘necessity’ of it all.
The petition was submitted as part of a #KuToo campaign, which is a clever play on the Japanese words ‘kutsu’ which means shoes and ‘kutsuu’ which means pain, as well as being a reference to the global #MeToo movement against sexual abuse.
It was launched by actor and writer Yumi Ishikawa and it wasn’t long before thousands of people joined in on the movement.
According to campaigners, it’s pretty much obligatory when looking for jobs or working for Japanese companies, which in a word sounds – painful.
Some of the campaigners have compared wearing high heels to modern day foot-binding, while others are simply pushing for a broad loosening of strict dress codes in Japan, where business suits are essential for men in the workplace.
— 石川優実@#KuToo署名中👞👠 (@ishikawa_yumi) February 21, 2019
This isn’t the first time there has been controversy over women being expected to wear heels. In 2015, the director of Cannes film festival was forced to apologise after a number of women were refused entry to the red carpet for not wearing heels. However, the organisation opted to keep the strict dress code, despite Julia Roberts’ legendary protest of turning up with bare feet.
It’s difficult to comprehend that in 2019, women are still being subjected to unnecessary discomfort (if not in actual pain) in the workplace, while the same expectation would never be asked of their male counterparts.
Petition to get Japanese lawmakers wearing heels for work, anyone?
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Emma Rosemurgey is an NCTJ trained Journalist who started her career by producing The Royal Rosemurgey newspaper in 2004, which kept her family up to date with the goings on of her sleepy north east village. She graduated from the University of Central Lancashire in Preston and started her career in regional newspapers before joining Tyla (formerly Pretty 52) in 2017, and progressing onto UNILAD in 2019.