Why not fake height?

Barking up the wrong tree:

to match the dating success of a man one inch taller, a 5’9″ man would have to make $30,000 a year more…

So why don’t men wear high heels? Obviously the immediate reason is to avoid looking like women, since women wear them. But there are all sorts of things that both men and women do without men becoming sullied by girliness (for instance wearing high heels at other times in history). And why didn’t men get in first and claim high heels for manliness, if they should benefit from it so much? We would be puzzled if in another culture men were the only ones with push up bras, because push up bras were too manly for women to wear.

Even with the danger of looking like a girl in proper high heels, isn’t there a temptation to get men’s shoes with a tiny bit higher heel than usual? Maybe just $10,00 worth of income’s heel? Presumably there is some heel increase that wouldn’t stand out as effeminate. And when that’s commonplace, wouldn’t it be tempting to add a tiny bit more? If height is such an advantage to men, and the danger of girliness shouldn’t stop a gradual increase, what’s the barrier?

Note: I removed the possibility of trackbacks to this post because it was receiving more filter evading spam than I could be bothered looking at.

37 responses to “Why not fake height?

  1. Hmm, maybe the taller fellas, being more admired as they are, are setting the fashion sense. I find, as a neither short nor tall person, that I am drawn to thin soled shoes as a sign of quality. And, by shoes I mean dress / casual dress. So, in an effort to explain your query and my own pathology, perhaps the style is set, and that is that. There is no cause for the style to be otherwise because the admirable people do not need artificial height enhancers because they are already tall. So, the shorter people are faced with either the disadvantage of being short or the disadvantage of contravening the shoe norm. And, for whatever reason, the shoe norms win. Partially, perhaps, reinforced by the ‘only-women-do-it’ norm. I suspect also that, if height, nutrition, and status are all tied up, then the norm could not simply be out-voted as those who could afford height did not need height. So, given this last point, maybe it is only a matter of time for the norm to be diluted and washed away.

  2. I expect the regression didn’t include a “does visibly weird stuff that all your friends will see” term, but if it did that might be equivalent to $100,000 in income.

    • That doesn’t explain no slow increase in height. I agree in the current situation it would be bad for a man to wear high heels.

  3. Jesper Östman


    I haven’t seen the graphs but it might be possible taller men will also profit from extra height.

    1. I believe some short men wear shoes with thicker soles for that very reason.
    2. Not everyone knows that height provides an advantage.

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  5. John Forsberg

    Some ideas:

    * Men faking anything to appear more attractive is ridiculed hard, so men only fake status when they’re unlikely to get found out. Since heels are easy to discover the increase in attractiveness isn’t worth the risk of ridicule. This is consistent with the ridicule heaped on men using wigs, plugs, tupees or combovers.

    * The benefits of height might be due in large part to tall men learning more dominant behavior. I think there’s something about the strongest correlation between height and leadership is with childhood height, not adult height.

    * The 1″=30k data is from online dating. It’s possible that height either is a proxy or something women think they want but don’t really care that much about. Hence, the actual benefits of high heels for men are small.

  6. It is curious that overt male attribute enhancement is now frowned upon; not long ago, a thrusting young male would wear all manner of jutting breastplates and codpieces. Perhaps this is restricted to accessories, as pectoral implants, fake tans and manicures are generally forgiven.

    Should thick-soled boots catch on (and sales of high-heeled shoes for men are rising), I dare say taller males would respond in kind yet, in doing so, reveal their comparative deficiencies in maintaining equilibrium.

  7. Jamea D. Miller

    If I were single then after reading this post I would look for shoes that made me seem slightly taller than I really am.

    But this might be because I already do “visibly weird stuff that all [my] friends … see”.

  8. I see lots of men’s dress shoes with a little bit of subtle heel in them, also boots.

    But too much heel, I think, would make legs look curvy rather than muscled, and given that musculature is another attractive male quality, there’s a tradeoff that women don’t have to worry about.

  9. My understanding was that the attractiveness of heels for women was that it made their posture more sexually attractive. Perhaps this same change in posture on a man would look effeminate.

  10. Heels are also worn to elongate the legs for optimal proportionality: ‘a person of average height (5ft 4in tall) was rated most attractive when their inside leg measurement was 30.5in, which is about 5% longer than the average leg measurement for a person that size.’

  11. I think the effect on posture is significant. It probably also is more of a problem for a man to have shoes that make walking in any way awkward; awkwardness is weakness. And I’ll agree with those who note that some shoes for men do have needlessly thick soles. This is especially true for boots, where this can be concealed as simply part of the overall sturdier construction.

  12. It’s a catch-22; being short makes you earn less. In China, they’re more overt about it — a number of civil service jobs have explicit height requirements, and you can visibly see the height difference between the 3 different cadres of police operating in Beijing. And parents in China have been known to graft extra bone in their children’s legs to give them better life opportunities.

  13. My wildland firefighting boots have the advantage of adding about an inch. They could probably give two or even two and a half without appearing artificial or ‘girly’.

    For most of last year, the people at worked with insisted I must be /at least/ 6’3″, but I’m actually only about 6’1″. It was a combination of the boots and wearing my hard hat even when on break.

    Maybe parents could use height benefit information to encourage good posture for their slouching teenaged children.

  14. Heels don’t just increase height. They alter posture, and also visually reduce the size of the foot.

    So the real question is: why aren’t there thicker soled shoes for men to increase height? The answer, or at least part of it, is: there are. Do a search for “elevator shoes”.

  15. Yes, for men thicker soled shoes makes more sense than higher heels.

    I think it would probably be beneficial for short men to wear thick sole shoes on dates or to job interviews.

    However, vanity is more socially acceptable for women, although that seems to be changing (metrosexuals, etc). That makes for challenging marketing. If you market your shoes as height boosting, wearing those shoes probably would only highlight your deficiency.

  16. MarcTheEngineer

    Male ballroom dancers wear height enhancing shoes all the time.

    I know at some point in time I wandered across a website which sold men’s shoes that looked fairly normal yet added 1-4″ to your height.

  17. Hiking and work boots aren’t especially useful (how often do you see someone dropping some 2x4s on their feet these days? or going out for a nice 50-mile hike?), yet are reasonably popular among men – disproportionately so. Perhaps that’s the effect right there.

  18. Good point, Marc. Part of the point of men leading is that they can see better what’s going on, since they can see over their partner’s heads. Obviously, this only works if the men are in fact significantly taller. Admittedly, too great a high difference between partners introduces other difficulties, so I don’t know that especially tall men should follow your advice.

  19. Luca, maybe they also tell you that you must be 6’3″ because all the shorter men around lying about their own heights. I’ve more than once had to big myself up in public because it’s hard to say ‘I’m 5’10″‘ when a clearly shorter man standing near me has just claimed to be 5’10” himself.

  20. Of course, I’m usually able to console myself that I’m pretty sure he doesn’t earn $30k more than I do.

  21. the issue is not height, but slope.
    the height of the heel (y) is relevant only because it determines the gradient (Δy/Δx) , given constant shoe size (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7d/Slope_picture.svg).
    in other words, high-heels are not plateau shoes.
    what does slope do? first and foremost, it alters your walk and posture. it makes you slower and, often, a little unconfident. you might also be walking more audibly.
    i have no theory on why, nowadays, this is found to be attractive in women as opposed to men.

  22. I’m very short (5’1.5 (sometimes I self-identify as just short enough that measuring in half inches makes sense)). That said, I often wear hiking boots and I didn’t realize why I preferred them until fairly recently. That it may be an unconscious or semi-conscious height increaser.

    I’d suggest that as a society we’ve decided that strong increases to male height is interpreted as a signal of a) lack of confidence and b) genuine shortness. Why this sort of thing hasn’t happened with females in the same way isn’t completely clear to me (although their seem to be some signals of direct female body modification that similarly signal low status. Breast implants or bra-stuffing would be the most obvious examples. The second one is so low status that it probably doesn’t happen outside highschools).

  23. I’m a die hard flip flop junkie. One of the few times I’ll wear shoes is when I go out. Even most tennis shoes yield a noticeable effect on height.

    Of course, sometimes I feel the need to signal to myself that I’m not so caught up in social norms, in which case I’ll wear flip flops to the bar.

  24. Women judge men based on how effortlessly we appear to execute our attraction signals. “Trying too hard” is the end of consideration for most attempted approaches. Guys would wear heels if it helped, and the shortest actually do sneak thick soles/heels, but the risk of appearing desperate is usually greater than the reward.

  25. Yes, height is hard to fake. Very few women are going to be fooled by platform shoes or inserts. When the man is shorter, it’s not just an embarrassment to the man, it’s an embarrassment to the woman. What woman wants to risk being out in heels at a high-class event, only to find that her man has forgotten his shoe inserts and now looks like a midget next to her?

  26. yes, there are hiking and construction boots, even casual shoes that increase height and are not girly.

    i’m 5’10, not exactly short, but my ex used to ask me to wear my shoes that made me 1 inch taller just for her pleasure when we went out. i had no problem making her happy wearing the damned shoes.

    so, where’s the problem? since when honesty is that important?

    ps. now she dates a shorter guy =)

  27. I have read that small women are more attractive to men (marry first, marry best) so why do women wear heels in the first place, especially if they start off quite tall? Is it because the heels make your hips sway when you walk, in a feminine way, and elongate your legs (also a female trait). If so, perhaps this is part of the reason men shy away from heels?

  28. My view of this is different. I apologize if its been already stated I’m procastinating on a urgent project by reading this blog and have decied to skip the comments on this one for now.

    Women probably wear high heels not to look good for men, but to signal they are searching for tall men.

    Moderatly high heels combined with expensive dress (we all know about female hypergamy on a basic level) signal searching for well looking (tall) well off guy.

    The very same girl wearing very high heels combined with cheap dress may signal looking for a good looking guy.

    But I think it may become really revealing once you observe women with their partners. By wearing higher heels you are making approaches harder for shorter men (and the ones that do approach must have something else going for them!). By being higher than your partner you are signaling he is too short to approach you, this can go two ways either he is either compensating this by something very obvious (wealth perhaps?) OR you want to be approached so that he is either tested (for the quality he compensates his lack of height with) and found sufficient or replaced.

    I suspect the latter is more common, since men feel uncomfortable with their partner wearing heels that make her taler than him.

    In the end height in women is about visible passive filtering of mates, something very important for women. Guys wearing heals would throw that off. The social equilibrium between the genders is that “no icky guys wanted” is more important than the ability of some guys to fake a bit of height.

    A world where only men would wear pushup bra’s to for example to sigal they only date women with brests larger than their own would not work.

  29. The standard is 3/4 to 1 inch for a heel.

    Is 1.25 inch too high a heel for men? I was about to buy a pair of Steve Madden’s @ 1.25 heel.

  30. Could it be that men know what they like and it ain’t height and assume that women are like them. After all few people think about this sort of thing. That would explain why the work out and why they do not dress so well. It would also explain why women wear jewelry and drive nice cars.

  31. My hight 167cm actuly I want 168 hight …what to do now… immediately for job


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