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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Turnabout is fair play

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has spoken out strongly against the wearing of high-heeled shoes by fashionable women in France.

In a major policy speech, he said stiletto heels objectified them and undermined their dignity.

Mr Sarkozy also gave his backing to the establishment of a parliamentary commission to look at whether to ban the wearing of high-heeled shoes in public.

"That is not the idea that the French republic has of women's dignity.

"We cannot accept to have in our country women who are prisoners teetering precariously on pencil-thin points, fetishised for the male gaze, deprived of identity," Mr Sarkozy told a special session of parliament in Versailles.

"The stiletto heel is not a sign of style, it is a sign of subservience. It will not be welcome on the territory of the French republic," the French president said.

But he stressed that France "must not fight the wrong battle", saying that "these fashion choices must be respected as much as any other" in the country.

A group of a cross-party lawmakers is already calling for a special inquiry into whether women who wear high-heeled shoes is undermining French gender equality, the BBC's Emma Jane Kirby in Paris says.

The lawmakers also want to examine whether women who wear these shoes are doing so voluntarily or are being forced to sexualise themselves, our correspondent says.

Members of the French government have been divided over the issue.

The immigration minister, Eric Besson, has said a full ban will only "create tensions" while the junior minister for human rights, Rama Yade, said she would accept a ban if it was aimed at protecting women forced to wear high heels.

France's fashion designers have criticised the debate.

To raise the subject like this, via a parliamentary committee, is a way of stigmatising fashion and the fashionistas of France said Pierre Cardin, French Council of Haute Coutoure.

France is home to about fifty million fashion victims.

Original Article