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Stilettos to the rescue of Japan’s ‘waddling ducks’

’EMPOWERING’ WOMEN: The Japan High Heel Association managing director “Madame” Yumiko, right, gives a lesson on high heels in Tokyo. (AFP)
TOKYO: Feminists, look away! Fashion police in Japan want to ‘empower’ women by persuading them to wear high heels, insisting the country’s historic ‘kimono culture’ has led to many women having poor posture.
The Japan High Heel Association (JHA) is calling on women across the country to trade sensible shoes for a pair of stilettos, insisting that standing tall will give them ‘confidence’ — and improve their gait.
“Japanese women walk like ducks,” JHA managing director ‘Madame’ Yumiko told AFP in an interview at her plush Tokyo salon.
“They waddle along, pigeon-toed, with their bottoms sticking out as if they’re bursting to use the toilet. It looks ghastly,” she added.
In an apparent bid to improve this situation, the all-female organization charges thousands of dollars for etiquette lessons, including special classes where women are taught to walk correctly, and particularly in high heels.
Critics have branded the idea sexist and laughable, particularly as women are still battling against a deeply ingrained patriarchal culture that once expected them to pace three steps behind men.
Yet the “walking etiquette classes” are proving hugely popular: At JHA students pay 400,000 yen ($3,700) for a six-month course — and so far 4,000 have taken part, while similar lessons and schools are popping up nationwide.
The 48-year-old former ballerina blames the countries sartorial heritage for the posture problem.
“Chinese or Korean ladies don’t have these problems,” she said. “It’s a result of Japan’s kimono culture and shuffling about in straw sandals. It’s ingrained in the way Japanese walk.” “But very few Japanese wear a kimono all day anymore. We should know about Western culture and how to wear heels correctly,” Yumiko added.

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