Why this Swedish handyman wore high heels to work

Why this Swedish handyman wore high heels to work
Not the ideal footwear for manual labour. Photo: Emil Andersson
A Swedish floor layer has told The Local why he wore high heels to work in a protest against the stereotypical image of the ideal woman.

Emil Andersson, 25, got the idea after seeing images of Julia Roberts walking barefoot at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, as well as a viral picture of a waitress' bloody feet after a day's work in obligatory high heeled shoes.

“I saw those images and thought to myself: why should there be a difference between those who work in the service industry and me, as a floor layer?,” he told The Local.

“The shoes are just as uncomfortable for them as they are for me, and I began to think ‘what if everyone had to wear them to work?’. Then I said, 'let’s do a whole work day with them'.”

Andersson’s job for the day involved laying a floor in a fourth floor apartment which did not have access to an elevator. Yet while wearing heels made that incredibly tough to do, it was part of the point.

“It was a real challenge, but at the same time, I went for that kind of scenario. I dreamed up a situation where it was hard work to have high heels on, where it promised to impact my job,” he said.

The Swede recorded part of his day's work for his YouTube channel, and while colleagues ribbed him for his gesture, general reactions to his video have been overwhelmingly positive after Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet first shared his story.

“I’ve received a lot of credit in comments on YouTube and Facebook, really nice comments from people saying that they understand, that it’s good to raise awareness about this. It was really nice to get such a positive response,” he explained.

And while Sweden is generally considered to be one of the most gender equal countries in the world, Andersson received one comment in particular that suggested there is still a gap to be closed.

“I think the issue is more global, and not as big a problem in Sweden alone, but I read a comment from a Swedish woman who said that her contract requires her to wear high heels. That was heavy,” he noted. “Sweden has come a long way, but the problem is still there.”

As for Andersson's heels, fortunately for the handyman he has no contractual obligation to wear them in his day to day work, and he won't be doing so again. “I can promise you that was definitely the last day I’ll do it,” he laughed. “You never know, but never again at work in any case. I’d sign off on that.”