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Transgenders' Attempt to Implement Their Fashion
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Transgenders' Attempt to Implement Their Fashion

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High-heeled shoes are a real torture device! However, these uncomfortable and impractical shoes entered our everyday life as a feature of the “star,” luxurious, carefree life. From the time they were created, until only recently, heels were considered as being exclusively a piece of female clothing.

Meanwhile, while many modern women refuse to wear heels, some men, on the contrary, have decided to master the art of wearing high heels, making them part of their stage image. For the most part they did it, but does it really look good? See for yourself.

The history of the heel

To understand where such strange creatures as men in heels came from, we have took look a few centuries back into history.

According to encyclopedias and historical works, shoes never used to have heels, at least in Europe. However, in 1599, the Persian ruler Shāh Abbās the Great went on a diplomatic mission to Germany, Russia, and Spain, with guards and army reps in tow. And these Western Europeans were very surprised to see on the feet of the foreigners ... shoes with heels.

It turns out that Eastern fighters had long been trained to wear such unusual shoes, which, from their point of view, were the most useful for staying in a saddle, firmly fixing their feet in the stirrups.

After the Europeans were introduced to Persian culture, they started adopting their fashion, and they even started making their kind of shoes, with heels, believing they gave men more masculinity.

Soon, everyone had heels—both rich and poor. But they couldn’t allow such equality in those days, so someone came up with a higher heel. The most famous man in heels was Louis XIV. It was he who introduced the fashion of such shoes in France.

It is noteworthy that the heels and soles of his shoes were red (as women's shoes from Louboutins look today). Also, there is the fact that there were often battles and fights painted on His Majesty’s heels.

Following the French king, England’s Charles II also tried to wear heels.

A few years later, the entire court was wearing shoes with red soles—meaning they were all at the mercy of the king. Naturally, women could not stay away and also began to wear shoes with heels. The women wanted to add some elegance, and a sexual division arose—men’s heels were rough and broad, while female’s thin and curved.

Heels were rejected as unnecessary during the Enlightenment and were soon forgotten.

They returned into men’s fashion in 1960, when cowboy boots were invented; and in the 1970s, a particularly stylish person would wear platforms shoes.

Heels in men's shoes today

It’s no secret that just a couple years ago, men’s shoes could have a small, wide heel, 1-2 inches maximum, and it didn’t seem like blasphemy or something beyond the generally accepted norms.

Even now, any men’s shoe will have a little lift, and cowboy boots are still sold on some shelves.

Shaobo Han put on his first pair of heels at age 11. They weren’t Han's, exactly—he'd stolen them from his mother, to practice "prancing around the house when no one was around." Han thought that boys weren’t supposed to wear heels, so he made sure to play with them in private.

"I have other male-presenting friends who have the same memory of trying on their mother's clothes," Han told The Daily Beast. "It's fascinating that a collective memory exists. Even though nobody taught us how to wear heels, we all tried on our own."

Years later, Han went to Forever21 to buy his first real pair of heels for $40. "I was lucky that my shoe size is a men's eight, which is a women's 10," said Han. "Other people aren’t as fortunate. If they have larger feet than mine, it's almost impossible to find something that fits."

If a boy has larger feet, he could find stilettos at Drag Store, but that resource would drastically limit any say he'd have in his own style. "Those shops cater to performers, so the shoes are much more outrageous," Han said. At drag outlets you can find studded stilettos, leopard print pumps, but no subdued, day-to-day heels.

Han grew up to be a graphic designer, along the way running the femme footwear line Syro with business partner Henry Bae. The Brooklyn-based company sells heels and boots in men's sizes 5-14. The styles are chic and trendy—plaid, patent, over-the-knee, but not gaudy à la Kinky Boots.

Whether a customer is male, trans, or non-binary, Syro’s mission is to promote femininity and encourage a fluid sense of style.

"We get emails where kids are saying how grateful they are to discover us, which is really heartwarming," Han said. "They tell us that they're wearing them to prom, or to a wedding. Those spaces are so gender-confirming so it's nice to provide them a way to express themselves and challenge norms."

But to a large extent, the mainstream fashion industry still relegates genderqueer, non-binary, or trans women back to the shameful, empty house burned in Han's "collective memory." Stilettos, especially, have never been kind to anyone with larger feet.

Women with larger feet have long been crafty when it comes to finding spike heels that fit. Regardless of their figure, they might shop a plus-size store such as Lane Bryant or Torrid, both of which carry up to a women’s size 13.

Last week, luxury Italian designer Francesco Russo launched a genderless line of stilettos available in Italian size 35 to 45. "It's not a polemic, it's not political," the designer told Vogue. "It's simply how society is moving forward. I think it’s in our duty as people to produce product to respond to the world."

As Rick Cataldo stopped for a smoke break outside of RuPaul's DragCon, the pro wrestler/drag queen (performance name: The Boy Diva), told The Daily Beast that he got his first pair of heels at Payless.

"That was the only store I could find that had big women’s sizes,” he said. Now, the self-professed “knock-off bitch” goes to high-end consignment stores to scope out size 10s and 11s.

"I have to say, Jessica Simpson is good with big heels," Cataldo said. "And so is" Cataldo said, taking his shoe off on the sidewalk, to check out the label on his black pumps, "DexFlex Comfort." Pour one out for DexFlex.

With a lack of options, men who want to wear heels are out of luck, left trying to cram their feet into the closest fit. At DragCon, many queens teetered in stilettos at the event but changed into sneakers for their commute home from the Javits Center.

Perhaps they switched shoes for comfort, or maybe because they didn't want to deal with stares on the subway—either way, it showed that for many, heels are still considered costume. The same person who may snap and "YASSS" watching a queen do a split in her Steve Maddens may look away, uncomfortable when a trans woman walks to work in them.

Sensual as they may be, heels have a violent history. After all, stilettos take their name from the preferred knife of medieval assassins.

According to Edward Maeder, historian and founding director of the Bata Shoe Museum, one theory is that the first heels were worn by those Persian calvarymen. "During the Middle Ages, there was a type of shoe that had a heel used for riding," Maeder told The Daily Beast. However, the base was more of a raised platform than a true heel.

Louis XIV, who ruled France from 1643 to 1715, was perhaps the first heel influencer. His ornate, usually red shoes were delectably unsuitable for any activity that wasn’t showing off how cute the monarch thought his legs looked.

"Men wore knee breeches then, so you saw their calves," Maeder explained. "If your heel is higher than the ball of your foot, your calf muscles are going to expand. The larger the calf, the sexier one was considered."

Once men's legs were hidden by trousers at the beginning of the 19th century, their heels disappeared, too. Impracticality once made heels so appealing to the upper echelons, but ornate, brightly colored clothing and accessories were soon dismissed as womanish, foppish, and effeminate.

A century and a half later, the ‘60s saw the reemergence of block heels or platform boots for men, but stilettos were still reserved for women. "The only way you could get proper stilettos as a man was if you got them custom-made," Maeder said. However, cross-dressing was illegal in 40 states for the majority of the 20th century. Even David Bowie, who delighted in gender-blurring fashion, stuck to wedges or platforms.

According to Maeder, the release of the 2005 British film Kinky Boots spurred a flurry of interest in drag culture. "There have always been drag queens, but Kinky Boots was key in bringing it into the mainstream," Maeder said. RuPaul’s Drag Race premiered in 2009, and Kinky Boots became a Broadway musical in 2013.

Men, who could once only wear heels in the comfort of a locked bedroom were free to slip on those bedazzled Weitzmans—if they could only fit into the damn things.

Cisgender women are encouraged to wear heels if rom-com cliches are to be believed, and the average girl basically lives in patent black stilettos. The same cannot be said for male-presenting people.

Even in New York, a city where you can openly sob on the subway and be left alone, people will openly gawk over a man in heels. They’ll catcall. They'll sneer. They’ll snap not-so-covert photos. "It's really hard to have to choose expression over privacy or safety," Han admitted.

Author: USA Really