Pump Bumps. Hammer Toes. Tailor’s Bunions. While I wish these were the names of new experimental songs from the new Frank Ocean LP, they’re just three of five common foot conditions caused by wearing high heels. Ew.

As a wardrobe stylist, I’ve accepted the belief that “heels elongate the body” without stopping to think much about what else they do. A good pair of pumps have long been a closet staple. Meanwhile, the ultimate goal is to somehow keep a perfect pedicure and avoid blisters while balancing on four-inch heels. After all, Dior made the stiletto famous, but he didn’t pair it with a matching bunion pad. Wearing heels without injury is its own creepy, unrealistic ideal.

Photo: Jean-Baptiste Mondino for Dior

Photo: Jean-Baptiste Mondino for Dior

Despite the laundry list of potential health problems caused by wearing heels, some employers still require women to wear them to work. If you’re a ballerina, fine, you’re confined to your toes by trade. But what if you’re in a profession that requires you to stand all day?

Where one woman sees power pumps, another woman just feels sore toes.

Photo: Sneakhype

Photo: Sneakhype

Simply put, you take away a woman’s right to step into confidence when you require her to wear something that takes away her comfort – especially when you’re not demanding that everyone else in the room wear the same thing.

The ethical fashion space seems particularly poised (shoe pun intended) to solve the problems the rest of the shoe industry seems to drag their feet on (yep, another shoe pun).

Brands like NICORA and Nisolo have feminine flats for every occasion, and they’re all made by artisans who receive a living wage and good working conditions. For my part, I admit that if a client wants high heels, I won’t keep them from what they want, but I’m taking heels off my list of staples. Like suits with shoulder pads, making people uncomfortable just isn’t my style.

Here’s a great collection of sweatshop-free shoes to keep you well-soled without fuss or fracture:

Kat Eves
Kat Eves is an inclusive wardrobe stylist dedicated to helping people find their fashion pulse and feel great in their bodies. She's passionate about making ethical fashion more accessible for people of all sizes, shapes, and incomes. When not styling, she's writing on TheStyleEthic.com or posting to Instagram @StyleEthic.