Can wearing high heels make you seem more attractive? According to research recently published in Personality and Individual Differences, high heels can make a woman appear more sexually attractive, higher status, and more feminine.
High heels have been a staple of women’s fashion for years. They’re seen as the appropriate choice for many social and occupational events. Despite that, they can be painful to walk in, so what is the benefit? Previous research has shown that men find a woman’s walk as more attractive when she’s wearing heels, due to the heels changing lumbar curvature, exaggerating the chest and hips, and increasing pelvic tilt. Wearing heels can also signal health, due to the “cost” of wearing them, which is the discomfort. Additionally, high heels tend to be more expensive and can be a status symbol.
For their study, T. Joel Wade and his colleagues recruited 448 college students from the Northeastern US to serve as their sample. Participants answered demographic information and then were shown 2 silhouettes: one of a woman wearing high heels and the other of the same woman wearing flats. Participants rated the woman they saw on her attractiveness, strength, femininity, health, status, and more. Statistical analyses were run after this.
Results showed that people rated the silhouette wearing heels as more attractive, more feminine, and less masculine than the silhouette wearing flats. This is consistent with previous research that suggests women wear heels to bolster their attractiveness.
There were no significant differences with how participants rated personality variables, such as intelligent, affectionate, friendly, or successful. This is rare in sexualization, which usually serves to also belittle women’s intelligence. Male participants rated both silhouettes as having better mate potential than female participants this.
This study sought to expand the body of research on how wearing high heels can affect perceived attractiveness. Despite this, it has limitations. One such limitation is that the study utilized silhouettes rather than real people, which could affect the perception of participants. Additionally, this sample was largely homogeneous, making it difficult to know if results could generalize.
The study, “On a pedestal: High heels and the perceived attractiveness and evolutionary fitness of women“, was authored by T. Joel Wade, Rebecca Burch, Maryanne L. Fisher, and Haley Casper.