Stilettos: women’s ultimate fashion accessory – Sunday Standard

Date: April 13, 2011
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Name of article/story: Stilettos: women’s ultimate fashion accessory
Name of Publication: Sunday Standard
Date: 15-21 November 2009
Country: Botswana
Theme: Sexuality
Skills: Perspective
Genre: Feature

GEM classification: Blatant stereotype

Description: This article is about how stilettos have become women’s ultimate fashion accessory. It is described as a trend that every woman who is informed about global fashion trends has to have in her wardrobe. Research is said to have revealed that men are generally attracted to women in high heels as they find them more attractive. A woman is quoted saying stilettos make her breasts look a bit larger.

This article is an example of a subtle stereotype. Whilst at face value it appears like just an analysis of a fashion item, the “stilettos”, it actually does present women in stereotypical terms. They are people who are obsessed with their outward appearances and would rather look good at the expense of their health. The article says that this type of shoe is doing more harm than good, yet women continue to wear it. For example it will put pressure on different parts of the foot that will lead to head aches, migraines and even anxiety. This, therefore, portrays women as vain and out to pursue beauty at the expense of their well being.

It also appears that some women are attached to the stiletto because they feel it enhances their sex appeal. This is in itself stereotyping women. This research lumps together all women. In the article women are even refer to as “slaves” of fashion.’

The headline assumes that all women are interested in wearing the latest fashion accessory. This is a generalisation which may not be applicable to some women. Women are also usually portrayed as obsessed with fashion and would follow the latest trends, something which is never said about men.

This article makes use of both primary and secondary sources. The writer starts by quoting research as having revealed that women wear stilettos because they make them attractive to men. The name of the research is not given.

The other secondary source is a survey done by the American Podiatric Medical Association, which highlights the complications that come with the stiletto.

An unnamed female source is said to have said that “stilettos make my breasts look a bit larger, my legs longer and my bum sexier”. This in itself presents women as people who are just out to please men. This is brought across in a subtle manner.

The other primary source quoted is UK-based shoe designer Terry De Havilland, who says that stilettos may be bad for the feet, but they are certainly good for the mind.

The above four sources are used to support the writer’s argument that most women find a lot of satisfaction and feel more confidence in stilettos regardless of the negative effects.

The language in the story stereotypes women. First it portrays women as mostly concerned about sex appeal and looking attractive for men.

Secondly they seem unconcerned about the negative effects of wearing high heeled shoes which may be detrimental to their health.

The word “ultimate” fashion accessory also assumes that the writer knows the way women think and the sort of things that will give them satisfaction. Fashion is one such thing implied by the story.

Visual images
There is an image of a high heeled “stiletto” accompanying the story.

Placement or positioning
The article is on the first page of the lifestyle section of the paper.


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