Session 3

Shoes - most of us wear them, in all shapes and sizes. But researchers say there can be a high cost to your health as well as your bank account. Practise your reading skills with this article.

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Activity 1

Reading: High heels

The true price of fashion?...

Do you like shoes? Some people spend a fortune on them - even getting into debt to get their hands on (or their feet into) the latest pair of designer shoes. But when it comes to high-heeled shoes, the true cost might affect your health as well as your bank account. Take a look at our article. While you read, look out for the answer to this question:

Who were the first high-heeled shoes made for?

We'll bring you some more questions about the article later on. Happy reading!

Read the text and do the activity

How high is too high?

Part 1
Many people believe high heels make women look good. So much so, it seems, that the organisers of the Cannes Film Festival reportedly barred women in flat shoes from walking the red carpet. But all this glam comes at a cost: wearing heels over 10cm high can damage your ankles.

Part 2
A study by Hanseo University in South Korea suggests that continuous wearing exposes women to the risk of strains, and makes them prone to losing their balance. A total of 40 women who wear high heels at least three times a week took part in the study. The strength of their ankles was measured regularly: researchers found that two of the four main muscles became dominant after a period of between one and three years. This created an imbalance in their feet.

Dr Yong-Seok Jee from Hanseo University said that the habit of wearing heels can result in deformed feet, back pain and unhealthy walking patterns. He recommends that women limit the use of these kinds of shoes and exercise their ankle muscles properly.

Part 3
High heels are considered by some people to be sexy and feminine, but in fact the fashion started with men's feet. These shoes were a form of riding footwear, and were seen on the feet of 17th Century Persian soldiers. Elizabeth Semmelhack of the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto says: "When the soldier stood up in his stirrups, the heel helped him to secure his stance so that he could shoot his bow and arrow more effectively."

Before becoming a staple of modern women's wardrobes, high heels were used by Louis XIV of France. These shoes were status symbols. Let's face it – nothing screams privilege like uncomfortable, luxurious and impractical clothing. They say the wearer doesn't have to work in fields or walk very far.

What do you think: are high heels a symbol of women's elevation in society - or should they be booted out of fashion?

This article was based on a BBC News story.

The answer to our question:

We asked you: Who were the first high-heeled shoes made for? The answer is: They were made for men: they were worn by Persian soldiers in the 17th Century. Now check your understanding of the rest of the article with our quiz... 

How high is too high?

7 Questions

Are you a high-flier - or are you down at heel? Test your comprehension with our quiz. Good luck!

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We hope you enjoyed that article. On the next page, we'll practise some of the vocabulary from the text.


Session Vocabulary

  • glam
    (short for glamorous) very attractive and exciting 

    damage to something that is caused by stretching or pulling it

    prone to
    if you are prone to something, it often happens to you

    stronger or more powerful than other similar things in the same group

    mis-shapen; with a shape that has not developed correctly

    the metal parts of a horse's saddle that hang down on each side of the horse and that the rider's feet rest in

    a particular way that a person stands

    a main or most important part of something

    a position that is higher than normal