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Image: witter/@udondon1234

High-heel requirement for Japanese women at work sparks online movement

By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

In Japan, job hunting pretty much requires formal dress. Applying for entry-level jobs at large companies means actually visiting their recruiting offices and headquarters for information seminars and interviews, and in order to convey how serious you’ll take the job, you’re expected to dress up.

Both men and women are supposed to wear suits, though women can opt out of a necktie. What they generally can’t get out of, though, is wearing heels. Granted, showing up in club-worthy stilettos is a faux pas, but flats are usually frowned upon for ladies, since they’ve traditionally been viewed as too casual, and so mid-level pumps have become the de facto dress code for female job hunters in Japan.

But remember how we said applicants have to make the rounds to various offices as they look for employment? In Japan, getting around city centers involves taking trains, often standing on crowded carriages as you head into office districts, then walking to the interview site. Heels aren’t a particularly good match for all that time on your feet, as Japanese Twitter user @udondon1234 shows with the photos above.

@udondon1234, who’s currently job hunting in Osaka, recently went to an interview that was a five-minute walk from Shin Osaka Station. That was long enough for a bright red patch of blood to spread from a freshly opened wound on the back of her ankle, where her pumps were digging into her skin. The cut was severe enough that blood even poured down the outside of the shoe, leaving a dried cake of hemoglobin.

“I want them to get rid of pumps for job hunting,” tweeted @udondon1234. “If you have bunions or a high instep, the shoe will rub against your skin and bite into it,” she lamented, going on to say “Pumps are the modern equivalent of foot-binding. It’s a mistake to force women to wear them. They say it’s proper manners to wear them? It’s a medical injury!”

As part of her cry to end the practice, @udondon1234 also tweeted the hashtag #KuToo. A corrupted rendering of kutsu, the Japanese word for “shoes,” it also borrows from the #MeToo anti-sexual harassment movement. #KuToo has been showing up in Japanese social media with increasing frequency, as it’s not just job hunters who have to deal with painful footwear. The Japanese business year, when recent college graduates start working, begins in just a few weeks, and many office dress codes require female employees to wear heels during working hours.

A few commenters pointed out that, while they felt sympathy for @udondon1234’s injury, such a dramatic amount of blood loss could very well be a sign that the shoes she’s wearing are the wrong size for her feet, or perhaps that even within the pumps category, she’s chosen a pair that’s a severe mismatch for her skeletal structure. Other recommended purchasing foot pads or carrying her pumps in her bag and wearing a different pair of more comfortable shoes on her way to the interview venue, then changing just before she arrives.

It’s also worth pointing out that it’s not uncommon for larger Japanese offices to include a sort of locker room for female employees where they can keep personal effects, and some women leave their formal work shoes there while commuting in more sensible shoes. Still, it’s hard to imagine that having your feet in pain for any amount of time is good for work performance and productivity, and hopefully @udondon1234, who also says its unfair to force men to wear uncomfortable dress shoes at work, can find a job at a company with an enlightened dress code that allows her to wear flats.

Source: Twitter/@udondon1234 via Hachima Kiko

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Pantene ad asks why people in Japan are forced to look the same when job hunting

-- Cute shoe range from Sanrio features bejeweled loafers and pumps with My Melody armchair heels

-- Civil servant spends 20 minutes hitting on schoolgirl in Japan, gets arrested instead of a date

© SoraNews24

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

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It's ridiculous to require women to wear shoes that damage their feet and joints for no reason other than meeting sexist stereotypes.

14 ( +15 / -1 )

If you have bunions or a high instep, the shoe will rub against your skin and bite into it,” she lamented, going on to say “Pumps are the modern equivalent of foot-binding. It’s a mistake to force women to wear them. They say it’s proper manners to wear them? It’s a medical injury!”

Its very true. In addition to that, they can cause unneccessary pressure to the lower back. We got rid of foot binding and the corsette. Time to get rid of high heels too.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

It is horrible and useless.

It also happens to men.

Wearing lether business shoes caused me the same blood mark in the job hunting days, although it was hidden by trouser.

Any stupid business manner should be got rid of!

5 ( +8 / -3 )

You would look more keen if you turn up in joggers, so maybe black lace up sports shoes should be the new fashion shoes for office workers.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I think the whole suit thing is stupid anyway, it makes zero difference whether you are actually capable of doing your job or not.


6 ( +7 / -1 )

Just find the shoes that fits you.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Personally I like wearing shoes with heels so I’m not willing to wear it but that is true that there is some weird rules like wearing only “black” shoes with heels(but not so high) or or putting hair up( and hair must be dyed to black even if your natural hair color was brown or some other color)

3 ( +4 / -1 )

When I was in Hawaii years ago I noticed businessmen wearing suits and ties with sandals, albeit socks included. It think it is a great idea.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Some day barefeet is preferable in Japan, kinky business.

High heels are nothing compared to what Japanese have been wearing and some still do,

Waraji, Ippon Geta, Okobo, Jika Tabi, Warazori, Umbrella Slippers etc.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

I think a nice pair of flats should be allowed in Japan. Having the heels doesn't make a different in the professionalism of the whole outfit. Women should be able to wear flats. I can understand how women feel, since moving to Japan, my shoes have become my worst enemy. Back in America, it was from home, to my car, to the office, and back the same way. However, I walk more in Japan and I never realized how bad for my feet my wingtips, oxfords, and other shoes are. My feel go numb, they rip the back of my ankles, and more.

While suits don't really affect someone's ability to do their job, it does affect the impression that some have about your ability to do your job. Japan is a society that is heavily rooted in perception. Perception of hard work, perception of professionalism, and more.

When I worked in finance back in America, it was interesting how customers reacted when you wore or didn't wear certain items. Examples. When I recommended investments when I wasn't wearing a watch, cufflinks, and a vest, I would be asked more questions about my recommendation than when I actually wore those items. The items seem to give people the belief that you are more competent and successful at what you do so they trust you more.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

businessmen wearing suits and ties with sandals

Good grief. If you're going to wear a suit and tie, wear dress shoes unless you're sitting at your desk.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Dress code is part of any job. Fit is key and there are comfortable options out there as well.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Why can’t a collective of professional businesswomen decide what is appropriate attire for themselves as well as for new businesswomen? Seems strange for a collective of businessmen to decide on or even have a serious opinion on what is best for businesswomen to wear. Women are not our children to be told what to wear. The irony is that many of us learned what is and is not appropriate to wear from our mothers. Let men come up with a standard for men and let women do so for themselves.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Even as a man, I hate leather business shoes. But a few items from the 100 yen shop and, problem solved. A little thinking can save a lot of pain.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Here are two ladies who approve of high heels.


0 ( +0 / -0 )

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