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Russia proposes controversial high heel ban amid health concerns

Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Friday, June 20, 2014, 5:16 PM - A Russian lawmaker has submitted a proposal to ban canvas sneakers, ballet flats and high heels in the Customs Union -- i.e., Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan -- because the footwear has been linked to numerous health conditions -- particularly flat feet, which is said to afflict about 40% of residents.

The proposed ban was filed by Oleg Mikheyev, who is asking that "orthopedic regulations" are added to the coalition's code.

According to Mikheyev, the prevalence of flat foot from bad footwear has had a negative impact on the Russian army. He suggests that flat-footed citizens are being drafted for service because they're starting to outnumber people without the affliction.

Flat foot is a condition where the foot has an arch that is smaller than usual. While many flat-footed people suffer no symptoms, some can experience acute pain.

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"In the past, it tended to be women who suffered from uncomfortable shoes because the lion's share of complications was caused by high stiletto heels," Mikheyev was quoted as saying by the Moscow Times, "but now the at-risk group also includes men. Fashionable canvas sneakers, loafers, moccasins without heels are also dangerous to health."

The proposal says that "footwear should have heels that are two to four centimetres high, five centimetres high at the most," according to AFP.

Mikheyev told the news service that the proposal has caused quite a stir -- especially in his own office, with some of his female colleagues refusing to speak to him.

Some Russian women are calling a high heel ban an "infringement of ... freedom and personal space," adding that if the footwear is eventually deemed illegal they would start wearing the shoes on purpose.

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