If a pro-Kremlin-friendly lawmaker who believes high heels are unhealthy has his way, Russian women will soon look a lot less fashionable and a few inches shorter.
Oleg Mikheyev who is known to be part of a Russian political youth movement that declares itself to be democratic is pushing for a ban of vertiginous heels as well as trainers, ballet flats, canvas sneakers and men's loafers due to the health risks they pose, Agence France-Presse reported Thursday.
On Wednesday the lawmaker from the A Just Russia party sent a proposal to the Customs Union, which also includes ex-Soviet Belarus and Kazakhstan, suggesting that the Moscow-led group introduce official standards for heel heights, Izvestia reported Thursday, citing a copy of the letter.
Mikheyev blamed high-heeled "stilettos" and even some heelless footwear, such as canvas sneakers and ballet flats, for various foot disorders - flat feet, in particular - and claimed 40 percent of adults are hobbled.
"Footwear should have heels that are two to four centimeters high, five centimeters high at the most," states the proposal, a copy of which was sent to AFP.
"The harmful effects of wearing extremely high heels and flat shoes have now been recognized by experts of the entire world," claims the five-page proposal. "It's necessary to change this trend."
Rather than ban heels altogether, Mikheyev said he was simply looking to raise awareness about their health effects, he told AFP. He added that his proposal was a sign that he cared about Russian women and wanted to protect them against any deformities, flat feet or other afflictions.
From a cultural perspective Russian women have been known for choosing beauty over comfort and can often be witnessed braving icy pavements or sandy beaches in sky-high heels, according to AFP.
"They are young, they simply don't think about these things," Mikheyev said in acknowledgment of his growing unpopularity among women. "My female colleagues have not spoken to me for half a day now," he quipped.
His proposal has gained great public attention and caused a storm of controversy among Russian women who say they will defy the ban and wear high heels in protest if it becomes law.
Muscovite Maria Larionova, 31, said she viewed Mikheyev's proposal as "an infringement on my freedom and personal space."
"I love high heels," she commented. Tthey are chic."