Kristen Stewart took off her high heels on the Cannes red-carpet yesterday, as a sign of protest against the festival’s no flats policy. The Twilight actor had appeared on the red carpet clad in a silver Chanel dress, which she had teamed with a pair of tall black Christian Louboutin pumps. As per a report from Marie Claire, as soon as Stewart was at the foot of the stairs, she bent down and took off her heels.

Stewart had spoken out openly against the Film Festival’s no flats policy during a round-table conversation at the event last year. She said:

“Things have to change immediately. It has become really obvious that if [a man and I] were walking the red carpet together and someone stopped me and said, ‘Excuse me, young lady, you’re not wearing heels. You cannot come in.’ Then [I’m going to say], ‘Neither is my friend. Does he have to wear heels?’ It can work both ways. It’s just like you simply cannot ask me to do something that you are not asking him. I get the black-tie thing, but you should be able to do either version—flats or heels.”

Feet-uring sexism

The festival’s no flats policy came to light when Screen Daily reported in 2015 that a handful of women in their 50s were discouraged from the screening of the film Carol, after being told the height of their smart footwear didn’t pass muster.

Many older women were turned away from the red-carpet premiers, despite giving medical reasons for showing up in flats.

Emily Blunt criticised the incident saying, “Everyone should wear flats, to be honest. We shouldn’t wear high heels anymore. That’s just my point of view I prefer to wear Converse sneakers. That’s very disappointing.”

We need to filter out such fashion mandates from our culture. No one has the right to push down dictates on women which they do not want to embrace in the first place. Young or old, medically fit or otherwise, women do not need an excuse to not wear heels. Their decision should be respected. It is, in fact, brutish to insult women and turn them away from the red carpet for the said reason.

High heels are not a standard of sophistication or feminine beauty

It is hard to explain the rationality behind Cannes’ no flats policy as hard it is to explain the torture one’s feet have to bear while wearing high heels. There are women who claim that they can live off their entire lives in heels. Then there are those who feel high heels are an inseparable part of feminine fashion. Heels make you look tall and sexy. They give your walk a sway and class. But that is not a ground to make it a mandate on the red carpet.

Choice of footwear should not be solely dependent on its visual appeal.

It should tick other boxes like individual preference and comfort, and all women have the right to make this choice. By making heels a mandatory part of the red-carpet dress code, Cannes is putting several women in an uncomfortable position both mentally and physically. Which is why this no flats policy needs to go away now. Perhaps Cannes needs a reminder of our individuality, just like it needs a reminder that its focus is supposed to be more on cinema, than on what women choose to wear.

Also Read: Have We Forgotten That Cannes Is About Films & Not Fashion?

Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section.  The views expressed are author’s own.

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