The Secret Spell Of The Stiletto

The Secret Spell Of The Stiletto

by Mallika Nawal - Feb 11, 2016 09:40 PM +05:30 IST
The Secret Spell Of The Stiletto

Men across the globe have been suffering in their sweet and silent agony over their altocalciphilia, the desire or sexual fetish for high heels. That is why any woman who sports these fantastic feats of engineering is automatically found worthy of a second glance.

Once upon a February, there lived a young girl who had everything she ever wanted, except the one thing she dared not ask for. After all, her mother would literally have had a cow if she found out… (But what has to be done, needs to be done!) And so, as the family enjoyed the boisterous merriment of the winter fair, the girl quietly snuck up to her loving (and a rather indulgent) father and told him of “that which she coveth”…As with all things precious, the daughter’s wish thus became the father’s command. And that is how, a five-year-old “me” came to possess my first pair of high-heeled shoes (and in glittering silver, nothing less)! [Note: A high-heeled shoe is defined as any shoe whose heel is higher than the toe.]

That’s right, my long-standing love affair with shoes has outlasted all my other human and non-human affairs. Thus, it was only befitting that my February tribute “for-the-month-of-love” be paid to the one thing that has always put me on a pedestal—my gravity-defying high-heeled shoes.

Then again, I’m most certainly not alone in my “shoey” fetish. Forget women, but men across the globe too have been suffering in their sweet-and-silent agony over their altocalciphilia, which is defined as an uncontrollable desire or sexual fetish for high heels—by far the most common sexual fetish around the globe. That is why, any woman who sports these fantastic feats of engineering is automatically found worthy of a second glance.

In fact, trust me when I say this, it is no ordinary engineering that goes into making these skyscraper heels. And for all those out there, who are thinking (to themselves), “But hey, it ain’t rocket science! They’re just shoes”; well, let me tell you about Thesis Couture—a science and technology company that actually teams up an astronaut, an engineer, a wearable tech expert, and an orthopedist to create a stiletto that’s actually engineered by rocket scientists, by asking their scientists to use aerospace materials to design “a structure that supports a secondary structure, which is dynamic and has a 180-degree range of motion and happens to be a human body”.

In fact, in a testament to the heights of engineering that go into designing these anti-gravity high heels, the legendary French footwear designer, Christian Louboutin, whose shoes sell at upward of $900 a pair, remarks, “If it is not exactly inside the centre of gravity position, inside the gravity line, the weight would make you flip out behind, or the weight would make you break the heel (and fall forwards).”

Hence, the nuts and bolts of this multi-billion dollar industry are deep-rooted in our socio-ecological make-up. Which is why social scientists, including the famous Freud, have been fascinated with men’s (and of course, women’s) fascination with these “vertiginous” heels. For we all secretly know how those long heels, which look like the blade of an Italian stiletto, draws men like a moth to a flame. After all, there’s got to be a rhyme, reason and rationale as to why we as a civilization would be willing to spend a whopping $2,645 on a pair of black boots by Christian Louboutin. (Note: Do the math and you will have learned the price we pay for fulfilling our fetishes).

To break this Secret Stiletto Spell, let’s enter the world of Freud, where we already know, everything is related to sex; including the symbolism of what we wear, which ultimately makes it either a phallic symbol or a vaginal symbol. And thus, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to read Freud’s footnote from his 1905 seminal work, Three Contributions To The Theory Of Sex, which reads: “The shoe or slipper is a…symbol of the female genitals.” Thus, the Freudian shoe becomes the vaginal receptacle for the phallic foot.

The Secret Spell Of The Stiletto

In other words, stilettos take us back to our most primal states. In fact, according to Dr Helen Fisher, professor of anthropology at Rutgers University, “when a woman wears them (i.e. stilettos), she assumes a primal mating pose called lordosis. Her butt lifts, and her back arches.” This also makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint, since a woman’s leg length is associated to her health and overall fertility. According to a 2008 study published in the journal Evolution and Human Behaviour, leg length is a good indicator of nutrition, since legs stop growing once a woman reaches puberty. Hence, if a woman has long legs, she most likely grew up in a good environment, which can yield a positive effect on fertility. Hence, it isn’t surprising to see the tantalising effect of “her heels on him”.

The love for high heels is nothing new. In fact, the ancestry of stilettos goes way back in time. Not known to many, the first precursors of stiletto heels were actually discovered in a tomb of Tebas in Old Egypt, and dates from 1000 BC. What’s more—archeologists have even discovered illustrations of spiky heels in Egyptian tombs, which date as far back as 4000 BC. Hence, shoes, especially high heels, have always been a stark reminder of status, class, and nobility.

Although the modern-day delicately thin high heels, however, are a post-World War II invention when French designer Christian Dior and shoe designer Roger Vivier joined forces to develop the stiletto. And why wouldn’t they? Those pencil heels were the only thing that could satiate the carnal hunger in mortal men. Now, are you really surprised that the inventors of stilettos were men? The stilettos were designed by the man…for the man!

Stilettos, even today, are a rage in the fashion circuits. Of course, not all high heels could be dubbed stilettos. In order to understand the stiletto, all we have to do is dig deeper (just like the heel) into its genesis, which comes from the Greek word “stylos” (pillar) and the Latin word “stilus” (the thin pointed Roman writing instrument). Thus, the stiletto heel is named after the stiletto dagger—a small dagger with a narrow tapering blade. The stiletto heels can range anywhere between one to six inches high.

Women too, in the end, have fallen prey to the growing fetish. Ask any woman if she has enough pairs of shoes. And there’s only one universal answer to that ridiculously ridiculous rhetorical question—a Big NO!

So, why do women love stilettos? Women love them because it makes them look slender. In fact, the technologists at the British retail chain Debenhams decided to use an optic trick to help women drop a dress-size with a pair of “magic” shoes. And it’s a simple formula too, encapsulated in the simple mathematical equation:

(C+P+H+HW) – AS = S

Or when expanded: (Colour + Platform + Height + Heel width) – Ankle Strap = Slimming

Don’t worry ladies—it’s not rocket science. And for the men out there reading this, I’m sure you all have a female companion/ friend/ relative, who would love to know the secret to dropping a dress size—all thanks to a simple pair of shoes]

COLOUR: Opt for a pair of nude-coloured shoes that perfectly match your skin tone. Think of them as an optical illusion that work as leg-extensions.

PLATFORM: The platforms should be concealed and must have at least a centimetre in depth—for maximum lengthening of legs (or so it would seem).

HEELS: Heels must be three-inch or higher for added height. For, in the words of Louboutin, “for me, there ain’t no high heel high enough”.

HEEL WIDTH: Thick heels draw the eyes and break the illusion; hence, opt for the “slimming” stiletto—the thinner, the better.

ANKLE STRAP: Ankle straps, too, break the optical illusion of leg lengthening. Hence, avoid ankle straps like the plague.

There now—magic is no longer reserved for the likes of David Blaine and Criss Angel. Magic’s Slimmest Secret has finally been revealed…

Mallika Nawal is a professor-cum-author, about to complete her doctorate in marketing from IIT Kharagpur. She is the author of three management books which serve as prescribed textbooks in several universities across India. She has taught at premier institutes like IIT Kharagpur, and S. P. Jain Centre of Management, Dubai.
Get Swarajya in your inbox everyday. Subscribe here.

An Appeal...

Dear Reader,

As you are no doubt aware, Swarajya is a media product that is directly dependent on support from its readers in the form of subscriptions. We do not have the muscle and backing of a large media conglomerate nor are we playing for the large advertisement sweep-stake.

Our business model is you and your subscription. And in challenging times like these, we need your support now more than ever.

We deliver over 10 - 15 high quality articles with expert insights and views. From 7AM in the morning to 10PM late night we operate to ensure you, the reader, get to see what is just right.

Becoming a Patron or a subscriber for as little as Rs 1200/year is the best way you can support our efforts.

Become A Patron
Become A Subscriber
Comments ↓
Get Swarajya in your inbox everyday. Subscribe here.

Latest Articles

    Artboard 4Created with Sketch.