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Object Lessons is a series of short, beautifully designed books about the hidden lives of ordinary things.
Fetishized, demonized, celebrated, and outlawed, the high heel is central to the iconography of modern womanhood. But are high heels good? Are they feminist? What does it mean for a woman (or, for that matter, a man) to choose to wear them?
Meditating on the labyrinthine nature of sexual identity and the performance of gender, High Heel moves from film to fairytale, from foot binding to feminism, and from the golden ratio to glam rock. Summer Brennan considers this most provocative of fashion accessories as a nexus of desire and struggle, sex and society, violence and self expression, setting out to understand what it means to be a woman by walking a few hundred years in her shoes.
Object Lessons is published in partnership with an essay series in The Atlantic.
Part One The Garden of Forking Paths
Part Two Daphne in Flight, Daphne in Flower
Part Three Ashes, Sea Foam, Glass, Gold
Part Four The Minotaur
Part Five A Goddess At The End of the World
High Heel is a dive into the labyrinthine nature of modern womanhood and sexual politics, with the world's most provocative fashion accessory as its point of entry.