Parenting is a challenging and rewarding journey. Navigating what is best for your child while maintaining balance in their lives and yours is no easy feat.
Social media and fashion trends advertise mature content and clothing to children, encouraging children to mature earlier. A hot topic of discussion dividing parents around the world is when girls should be allowed to wear heels.
At what age should girls be allowed to wear heels? The APMA suggests waiting until the age of 13 – 16 before trying heels. Dr. Ramona Brooks reminds parents that by ages 13 – 16 the “growth plates finally close and the feet stop growing. Also, muscles in the feet and legs are more fully developed and able to withstand greater stress.”
As parents, you strive to help your daughter find happiness, health, and wellness in life.
Seemingly small decisions, such as whether or not to allow your little girl to wear heels, can have a greater impact on your child’s health and wellness than previously thought.
Let’s dig deeper to support you in making the best decision for your child.
When Can Girls Wear Heels? – Considerations
Age is not the only factor to take into consideration when deciding when your child should wear heels.
When considering this decision, focus on the type of heel, the length of time your child will be wearing the heels, and the pressures they may cause.
1. Age of Child
Adolescent bones are still forming. It is recommended by the American Podiatric Medical Association to have your child wait as long as possible to wear heels except for special occasions.
APMA recommends children be 13 – 16 years old before they start wearing heels for health reasons.
2. Type and Height of Heel
If girls insist on wearing heels, the APMA encourages parents to choose the lowest heel possible and to look for styles with a rounded or square toe box to minimize damage to toes and reduce the potential of blistering.
Opting for shorter block heels instead of sky-high, unstable stilettos distributes force and weight more equally throughout the foot, reducing the risk of pain and inflammation.
3. May Physically Harm Growing Children
APMA age recommendations come as there is a growing number of health-related concerns, including back pain, ankle/foot sprains, fractures, foot deformities, and shin splints.
Additional injuries can occur due to falling, tripping, and fatigue. Wearing heels for a prolonged time can result in chronic pain, inflammation, and increased cancer risk.
4. May Place Pressure on Girls To Grow Up Too Fast
Childhood is for having fun, running, playing, jumping, and tag! Heels inhibit movement and freedom. By allowing your child to start wearing heels at a young age, you are limiting their ability to actively participate in childhood fun.
Heel footwear marketed to girls sends a message that looking pretty or sexy is more important than comfort and movement.
Young girls are under an intense amount of pressure from social media and advertising to look more mature and to achieve a certain “look.” Heels can add to this heavy, impossible standard of beauty.
Types of Heels
Heels come in a variety of heights, shapes, and styles.
There are three main types of heels:
- High heels: Heel above 3 inches — stilettos/platforms
- Mid heels: Heels 2 – 3 inches — pumps/wedges/booties
- Low heels: Heels 2 inches and below — kitten/dance/traditional
Benefits of Wearing High Heels
Health benefits of wearing heels 2.5 – 4 inches include muscle building in calves and legs, posture improvement, and reduced risk of arthritis. Wearing heels may also strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and ankle joints.
A cosmetic benefit of wearing high heels is that heels elongate the legs, making a female look taller and leaner. Due to marketing and fashion trends, females associate heels with feeling sexy and beautiful.
Effects of High Heels
The higher the heels, the higher the health risks. High heels affect not only the feet but also the back, hips, knees, and muscles. Changes in gait and balance are also side effects of wearing high heels.
Shopping for Your Daughter’s First Heels – Tips
If your daughter is determined to wear heels, here are some tips and tricks to protect her feet and give you peace of mind.
- Shop toward the end of the day for heels to account for the natural swelling of feet. This ensures a proper, comfortable fit.
- Encourage shorter heels — wedges or block heels distribute force and pressure more evenly.
- Choose a heel with a wide toe box — give those toes lots of room.
- Give choices — give choices in the form of colors, patterns, and clip-ons to deter from the “high heels.”
- Set ground rules — “Do not wear them every day,” or “You can only wear them on special occasions.”
Be sure to check out more tips and tricks from the APMA.
What Happens if You Wear High Heels Every Day?
Wearing heels every day can result in pain, inflammation, physical deformities, and other injuries. Everyday heel wear can also shorten your Achilles tendon, creating a plethora of foot problems.
Routinely wearing heels can also make it difficult in the future to wear other types of shoes and affect your mobility. It is not recommended to wear heels daily.
What Age Should Girls Start Wearing Makeup?
A recent study conducted by Mintel reveals that “40% – 50% of 12 – 14-year-olds wear makeup and that up to 80% of 9 – 11-year-olds use beauty and personal care products.”
Middle school or ages 12 – 14 is the average age at which girls begin wearing makeup. Ultimately, it’s up to you and your family to decide when your daughter should begin wearing makeup.
Childhood is about growing, learning, and playing. At the end of the day, it is up to parents as to whether they feel their child is ready for heels. If your child loves dress-up and fancy shoes, let them explore, but set some ground rules.
If they insist on heels, search for heels that provide support and encourage wellness. Encouraging your child to be happy, healthy, and comfortable is all that matters.
Mom of three (including identical twin boys), wife, and owner of Parents Wonder. This is my place to share my journey as a mother and the helpful insights I learn along the way.