Women in Japan are often required to wear heels for job hunting and office work, but the #KuToo movement wants to squash that part of the dress code.
In Japan, job hunting pretty much requires formal dress. Applying for entry-level jobs at large companies means actually visiting their recruiting offices and headquarters for information seminars and interviews, and in order to convey how serious you’ll take the job, you’re expected to dress up.
Both men and women are supposed to wear suits, though women can opt out of a necktie. What they generally can’t get out of, though, is wearing heels. Granted, showing up in club-worthy stilettos is a faux pas, but flats are usually frowned upon for ladies, since they’ve traditionally been viewed as too casual, and so mid-level pumps have become the de facto dress code for female job hunters in Japan.
But remember how we said applicants have to make the rounds to various offices as they look for employment? In Japan, getting around city centers involves taking trains, often standing on crowded carriages as you head into office districts, then walking to the interview site. Heels aren’t a particularly good match for all that time on your feet, as Japanese Twitter user @udondon1234 shows with these gruesome photos.
就活のパンプス本当に無くして欲しい。なんで女性だけなの？外反母趾や甲高幅広のせいで靴擦れしまくるんだよ。新大阪から5分歩いただけでこれだよ。外まで血だらけ… パンプスは現代の纒足だよ。こんなの強制的に履かせるの間違ってる。なにが… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
うどんちゃん@趣味垢 (@udondon1234) March 13, 2019
@udondon1234, who’s currently job hunting in Osaka, recently went to an interview that was a five-minute walk from Shin Osaka Station. That was long enough for a bright red patch of blood to spread from a freshly opened wound on the back of her ankle, where her pumps were digging into her skin. The cut was severe enough that blood even poured down the outside of the shoe, leaving a dried cake of hemoglobin.
“I want them to get rid of pumps for job hunting,” tweeted @udondon1234. “If you have bunions or a high instep, the shoe will rub against your skin and bite into it,” she lamented, going on to say “Pumps are the modern equivalent of foot-binding. It’s a mistake to force women to wear them. They say it’s proper manners to wear them? It’s a medical injury!”
As part of her cry to end the practice, @udondon1234 also tweeted the hashtag #KuToo. A corrupted rendering of kutsu, the Japanese word for “shoes,” it also borrows from the #MeToo anti-sexual harassment movement. #KuToo has been showing up in Japanese social media with increasing frequency, as it’s not just job hunters who have to deal with painful footwear. The Japanese business year, when recent college graduates start working, begins in just a few weeks, and many office dress codes require female employees to wear heels during working