Photo Credit: Erik Isakson/getty images
The poster for a 1920’s themed restaurant opening in Riverside, California advised male customers that collared shirts were preferred, and female customers that heels were required. This was so important that they used space on their grand opening marketing poster to write "Ladies: No flat shoes or sandals. Must have heels. Exception will be made if injured." Seriously.
I’ll give you a minute to wrap your head around that and then we’ll talk about this. I’ll give away the ending -- there was so much pushback so fast that the restaurant -- ridiculously called ProAbition -- changed the policy, but in the process a lot of truly screwed up stuff happened.
Considering that it’s a 1920’s theme, let’s remember that the decade saw women win the right to vote, the first woman governor, and the first women competing in the Olympic field events (not in high heels, one assumes). So suggesting that, almost 100 years later, women shouldn’t be allowed to choose our own footwear doesn’t exactly seem like an homage to the age.
While I’m not necessarily against restaurants having dress codes, I think that there is a world of difference between a provision that indicates the level of dress required, and a provision that requires an injury exemption.
Let’s also remember that studies show that high heels are actually injurious to the body in and of themselves. There are no such studies about collared shirts. Also, what constitutes “injured”? Do I need a note from my mom? My doctor? What if I’m not injured now, but I have a reasonable expectation that if I wear heels and drink I’ll end up that way?
At first some people argued that rather than complain, people should just take their money elsewhere. Really? Here is how the world works -- the business can do whatever they choose within the law. Then everyone else has the right to talk about it, protest it, and do whatever they think is right. Then the business gets to make business decisions -- do they appease the people or not. In this case, the people spoke and the restaurant decided to overturn their stupid heel policy. Those who think that a business’s policy is sexist, racist, homophobic, or otherwise messed up should definitely do more than just take their business elsewhere.
But not everyone hated the policy. Most ridiculous thing is that there were women who responded that people shouldn’t complain because they like to wear heels. Ok y’all, say it with me “Shitty sexist policies that don’t affect me are still shitty sexist policies.” You don’t have to join the protest, but think: Is this really the time to make a public declaration of love for your Manolo’s?
Dress codes are tricky and all too often used to enforce all manner of bigotry and sexism, including the idea that women should always dress in a way that is most likely to make men want to have sex with them. So congratulations to the people who spoke out against this so quickly, and good for ProAbition for realizing their error and making the change. Let's think twice before we make any future silly policies, okay boys?