Ja­pan’s women urged to wear high heels to lift con­fi­dence

The Daily Telegraph - - World News - By Danielle Demetriou in Tokyo

JA­PAN, a na­tion not noted for its gen­der equal­ity, has seen its women is­sued with a “call to heels” to help “em­power” them.

The Ja­pan High Heel As­so­ci­a­tion (JHA) is urg­ing women to swap sen­si­ble flat shoes for stilet­tos in or­der to boost their con­fi­dence in so­ci­ety and im­prove their pos­ture.

The all-fe­male or­gan­i­sa­tion charges more than £2,936 (400,000 yen) for a six-month se­ries of “walk­ing etiquette classes” – its pop­u­lar­ity is re­flected in the fact that 4,000 Ja­panese women have al­ready com­pleted the course.

JHA is one of a string of schools crop­ping up across Ja­pan of­fer­ing classes in high-heel wear­ing in or­der to give women “con­fi­dence”.

Crit­ics have con­demned the classes, in a so­ci­ety that re­mains deeply pa­tri­ar­chal, as sex­ist and laugh­able.

Dis­miss­ing the idea as “non­sense”, Mit­suko Shi­mo­mura, a so­cial com­men­ta­tor, said: “There’s no re­la­tion­ship be­tween wear­ing high heels and women’s power.”

How­ever, “Madame” Yu­miko, the man­ag­ing direc­tor of Tokyo-based JHA, is urg­ing women to sim­ply “throw on a pair of heels” in or­der to un­lock their minds.

“Many women are too shy to ex­press them­selves, she said. “In Ja­panese cul­ture, women are not ex­pected to stand out or put them­selves first.”

Wear­ing high heels will not only lib­er­ate them men­tally but help cor­rect bad pos­ture which stems from a legacy of wear­ing ki­monos, claimed Madame Yu­miko, 48, a for­mer bal­le­rina.

“Ja­panese women walk like ducks,” she said. “They wad­dle along, pi­geon­toed, with their bot­toms stick­ing out as if they’re burst­ing to use the toi­let. It looks ghastly.”

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