High heeled shoes, also known as high heels or simply heels, are a type of shoe in which the heel is tall or raised, resulting in the heel of the wearer's foot being significantly higher off the ground than the wearer's toes. High heels make the wearer appear taller, serve to accentuate the muscle tone in the legs as well as make the wearer's legs appear longer. There are many types of high heels, varying in colors, materials, style, and origin. Perhaps the first known pictorial evidence of high heels comes from 10th-century Persia (Iran) where men wore them in combination with stirrups for horse riding. Heels have had significant cultural and fashionable meanings attached to them over the past 1, 000 years, especially regarding the social construction of gender in the West. Although by the early 17th century high heels were a sign of masculinity and high social status in Europe, by the end of the century the trend had spread to women's fashion as well. By the 18th century, high heels shoes had bifurcated along gender lines, with men's heels being either riding or tall leather boots, and women's becoming more like the heels we see today. By the 20th century narrow high heels represented femininity and 'erotic capital. ' However, a thick high heel was still acceptable for men in some situations. Until the 1950s, heels were typically made of wood, but today they can be made of a variety of materials including leather, suede, and plastic. Wearing high heels is associated with health risks such as a greater risk of falls in the elderly, musculoskeletal pain, the development of foot deformities as well as varicose veins. = Pre-1700s =High heels have a long history, dating as far back as the 10th century. The Persian cavalry wore a kind of boot with heels in order to ensure their feet stayed in the stirrups.
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