High Heel Fetish: Why Are Sky-High Shoes A Sexual Turn-On?
“There is a certain type of attitude that one automatically exudes while wearing heels.” — Catherine
Many women covet high heels from brands like Christian Louboutin, Jimmy Choo, or Manolo Blahnik and willingly shell out big bucks to acquire them for the sake of fashion.
Some men covet high heels, too, but for an entirely different reason: they have a high heel fetish and are sexually aroused by the people who wear them — and sometimes even the shoes themselves.
But why do high heels turn men on?
(Editor’s note: for our purposes, the term “women” encompasses both binary and non-binary women.)
What Is A High Heel Fetish?
A fetish is a type of sexual desire that is connected to a specific item of clothing, object, or part of the body, and altocalciphilia is the formal term used to describe a fetish for high-heeled shoes.
Altocalciphiles, as they are known, are people who have sexual urges, fantasies, and preferences involving high heels.
Just looking at a pair of high heels may sexually excite a person with this type of fetish and touching the shoes may result in further arousal.
Sexual stimulation is sometimes also attained when using high heels as sex toys.
An altocalciphile might opt to wear high heels for sexual gratification and may have repeat fantasies about the shoes.
Dr. Sarah Melancon, a sociologist and clinical sexologist in southern California, said that a high heel fetish can include many elements.
These may include (but are definitely not limited to):
- The design of the shoe
- How a person’s foot looks while wearing the shoe
- The feel of the shoe’s material
- The scent or taste of the shoe
- The sound of heels clicking across a bare floor
A high heel fetish may focus specifically on the tactile elements of the shoe — with the fetishist obtaining sexual pleasure by smelling the shoe or licking the material it’s made from.
Some people with a high heel fetish enjoy the sound the shoes make when someone walks in them. Likewise, the fetishist may be excited by a particular situation in which they are typically worn.
Dr. Christopher Jones, the host of the popular podcast “Sex Therapy with Dr. Jones,” told us that someone with a high heel fetish may only like a certain kind of high heel — a particular color or style or brand — and not just any high heel.
For this reason, some fetishists prefer well-worn shoes while others prefer brand new ones.
To most folks, high heels are just shoes; but to high heel fetishists who get turned on by them, they are so much more.
Why Do Some People Develop A High Heel Fetish?
Dr. Jones told us that, “There is no scientific research which indicates why certain people develop fetishes and others don’t.”
“It could simply be because a person is attracted to a certain look or the feel of certain materials,” he continued.
“For some people, the fetish could be based upon a sexual fantasy that they have or it could be linked to a very positive sexual encounter that they have had in the past, but this is not necessarily the case for all people.”
Dr. Jill McDevitt, resident sexologist at CalExotics, said, “There are camps that think it’s likely that fetishes are functions of strong experiences that were rewarded earlier in life, like the clicking sound of a high heel from an older girl at school you had a major crush on.”
“Others think fetishes are just a normal variation of being human, just like some people are gay and some aren’t, and some people are musically gifted, and some aren’t,” she explained.
Scientists don’t really know why people develop specific sexual fetishes or what is behind a high-heel fetish — it depends entirely on the individual.
For one person, a positive childhood experience involving someone who wore high heels may have led to the development of a high heel fetish in adulthood.
Another fetishist, however, may find feet distasteful, a feeling which later evolved into a love of shoes.
For yet another, a high heel fetish may emerge as a result of repeated exposure to pornographic videos or magazines that featured people wearing sexy stilettos.
Psychology can be a tricky business.
There is also one darker theory behind the development of altocalciphilia, or a high heel fetish, in some people who might not always have the best intentions.
Because high-heels curtail a woman’s movement, she isn’t as fast on her feet as she otherwise would be when wearing tennis shoes.
In high heels, she becomes “lame prey,” which the altocalciphile may subconsciously be seeking.
“Some might be into the power dynamic the other way, with the feeling that the person wearing the heels is submissive, helpless to walk in huge stilettos,” Dr. McDevitt explained.
This stands in stark contrast to people who find power and dominance in those who dress in high heels.
Where a high heel fetish is concerned, personal perspective is everything.
Why Are High Heels Sexy To Men (And Women)?
There’s certainly a lot to be said for the sexiness of heels, but why are high heels sexy to begin with?
Catherine, a city mayor, told us about the way that high heels affect her own mindset in the workplace. She said:
“In the political, male-dominated world I live in, the high heels give me an extra literal boost of confidence and make me feel powerful. There is a certain type of attitude that one automatically exudes while wearing heels.”
Allie from Ohio agrees with this sentiment, saying, “This may sound strange but for me, heels feel powerful, like a huge accomplishment.”
Although she was “super poor” as a child, she is now a grown woman working in corporate America.
“There’s something about those heels that say, ‘I did it. Look at me now,’” Allie admitted.
Aside from gaining a feeling of power and dominance, when a woman slips into a pair of heels, she instantly becomes taller, thinner, and her calves look straight-up spectacular.
“I think they physically make women’s calves pop out more and make their legs look more flattering,” Catherine explained. “There’s NOTHING like an all-black high heel for me!”
Nike from Germany, told us that although she cannot wear high heels any longer due to problems with her feet, she really misses being able to do so.
“They just make your legs look SO much more sexy. Longer, more accentuated,” she explained. “They stretch the muscles in the legs and that looks amazing.”
Jodi from Georgia told us that she doesn’t wear heels often but when she does, it is typically an exaggerated version when in costume.
“I do feel sexy wearing them, even if they’re uncomfortable,” she said.
Wearing high heels alters a woman’s overall shape, creating body tension because the curve of the arch is completely changed.
Some people think that a woman in high heels is in a state of arousal, thanks to the enhanced posture aided by those shoes.
Additionally, high heels also:
- Make breasts look larger because the back is over-arched, pushing them forward
- Make feet appear smaller, which is alluring to people who prefer petite feet
- Cause a person’s hips and butt to undulate more when walking because of the shortened gait
When women wear high heels, it causes their back to arch in a way that may communicate information about their receptiveness to mating advances, according to Dr. David Lewis of Murdoch University in Australia.
Dr. Lewis explains that among many animals, arching the lower back sends a signal of sexual willingness and the readiness to engage in behavior that promotes or instigates sex.
Robert Thomas, a sex therapist and relationship coach, told us that:
“From a purely visual perspective, wearing high heels changes the appearance of the person wearing these (calves, thighs, and glute muscles tense up, hips sway more, etc.), making them more attractive.
However, if you look at the heels alone, these represent a sexual object — it’s all about the shoes and nothing or very little about the person wearing them.”
“For men who have a high heel fetish, it’s common that they find the shoe to be so sexy that they wonder what it’s like to wear them, so they do,” Thomas added.
Why Are High Heels A Turn-On For Men With A Fetish?
High heels are unquestionably sexy and, when wearing them, women look taller, bustier and their butts are enhanced — but that’s not the only reason men fetishize them.
Samantha Lee Allen, a student of sexual fetishism at Emory University told us that high heels represent female aggressiveness and power, which appeal to men who crave female dominance.
Allen explained that a shoe fetish may also result when a man wants to avoid sexual interaction and prefers fantasizing indirectly about a woman.
That said, there isn’t necessarily a scientific basis for why a person develops a high heel fetish.
Dr. Jones, the clinical sex therapist we spoke with earlier, said the attraction to high heels also depends on the person.
“Some may be aroused by the sound of the shoes. Some may like their partner (or themselves) to be wearing the shoes when they are engaging in sexual behavior with each other,” he explained.
“Others may just like to see, touch or smell the shoes while masturbating. Again, fetishes are really specific to the individual.”
Men may equate high heels — especially stilettos — with long-held sexual fantasies.
According to Jason Lee, CEO of Free.Date and a dating coach, high heels are a particularly interesting fetish.
“It can be a symbol of power and dominance, or it might be something that scratches a business woman’s kink,” he explained. “In some cases, it might remind men of a woman from their past or a celebrity that rocks heels.”
“It’s crazy to me how hush-hush people are about fetishes.” he continued. “In reality, most people have at least something or other that gets them going.”
Dave from San Diego told us about his high heel fetish, explaining that he’s especially turned on by the way his partner’s breasts bounce whenever she walks in heels.
“I like how a woman’s legs look with heels…and it raises her ass up, as well,” Dave said.
He explained that all he has to do is ask his partner to wear heels and she knows she’s in for some incredible lovemaking — being taken from behind while he holds the heels in his hands.
Axel, a 64-year-old gay man, told us that, “My husband loves, loves, loves high heels! The more ornate, the better. He likes to wear them around the house and in bed.”
Why does Axel’s husband have such an adoration for high heels?
“He said his fifth-grade teacher was the first woman he knew who regularly wore high heels and he loved the sound of them on the wooden classroom floor. That segued into a life-long passion for high heels.”
Axel doesn’t have any particular fondness for high heels but told us, “If it makes him happy, I’m game.”
Why Do Guys Like High Heels In Bed Or During Sex?
The reasons guys like women wearing heels in bed vary.
The book, “Feet and Footwear: A Cultural Encyclopedia,” written by Margo DeMello, discusses how feet have been eroticized for centuries.
There are customs and beliefs related to feet, which are revealed in this book, as well as discussions about foot binding and the adornment of feet.
For many, the foot is truly an erotic body part and high heels and sex often go hand-in-hand.
Another reason people find heels erotic is that wearing high heels in bed can make women feel powerful and domineering, and some men really enjoy that, particularly during sex that’s rough or aggressive.
But, regardless of the specific reason, the bottom line is that wearing heels during sex is a little bit naughty…and everyone enjoys some of that now and then.
Andrea from Ohio told us that her husband loves high heels but she generally doesn’t wear them unless her husband “is really in a mood.”
She explained that those heels don’t stay on for long, however – noting that it only takes about “2 seconds” before the couple is in bed together.
Other men prefer the idea of being dominated by a woman, which is why a dominatrix typically wears stilettos.
“I like the way I look in high heels and my partners do, too,” said 40-year-old Angelica, who has long incorporated high heels, preferably stilettos, into her sex life.
A few of her partners have had a high heel fetish and liked fondling, smelling and even licking the shoes while they were in bed together, however, most of her partners did not have a fetish.
Nevertheless, they thought she looked “sexier than hell” when wearing stilettos and found it “very arousing.”
“It’s fun,” Angelica said, adding, “the shoes don’t stay on very long.”
Additionally, a submissive man who is forced to wear a pair of heels during sex may find sexual satisfaction through the humiliation that comes with surrendering to his partner in this way.
If you are new to having sex with heels on, you do need to be careful not to jab your partner or yourself in the process.
Exercise some caution, particularly with stilettos. Heels and sex can be a great combination, but they can also lead to some sexual faux pas.
Penelope, a 30-something writer, shared an eye-opening story about a stiletto mishap she had several years ago, which took place at a local sex club for swingers.
She told us that she was enjoying herself with a fellow and was “somewhat oblivious to the threesome taking place” near her head on the mattress.
“The woman in the ménage a trois switched positions and without thinking kicked me in the face [while] wearing high heels,” she recalled.
We’ll spare you the gory details and can assure you that Penelope was alright in the end, but the incident certainly interrupted the moment and prompted a visit to an urgent care facility.
“The staff at the emergency room were unsurprisingly amused and slightly judgmental,” she explained. “The whole incident prompted a new rule of no shoes on the bed.”
It might take some getting used to, but if you wear heels in bed, pay close attention to your feet and their positions, particularly where they are in relation to your partner’s bare skin (and yours).
Most importantly, ask your partner what they like. Are they into role play? Do they want to be dominated, or do they simply want you to wear them while you’re getting it on?
Communicate with your partner and see where the night takes you.
Is It Normal To Have A High Heel Fetish?
CalExotics resident sexologist Dr. Jill McDevitt shared that the most comprehensive study on fetishes — which had over 5000 participants — found that feet and objects associated with the feet are the most prevalent targets of fetishes.
During a workshop called “Fetishes A-Z,” Dr. McDevitt presented at Harvard University in 2018, the audience was anonymously surveyed about their fetishes.
She discovered that 43% of the attendees had — or believed they had — a fetish.
“This is an audience that chose to attend a workshop on fetishes, so it’s not necessarily a representative sample, but I do think fetishes are more common than we realize,” Dr. McDevitt explained.
“As taboos about fetishes are relaxing (only 18% said fetishes are ‘kinda weird’ vs 22% saying ‘Yes, please’ and 40% saying ‘I’m intrigued,’ when asked their attitudes toward fetishes,) I think it’s possible the prevalence of fetishes will increase.”
So, how common is a high heel fetish?
Derek Newton, owner of SimpaticUS, which helps couples to connect based on their interests and desires, provides a 170-question compatibility questionnaire his clients must answer.
Derek’s website helps couples to discover their mutual sexual interests without having those frightening and awkward conversations face to face.
“If he is interested in heels, for example, and she is not, she never knows. This way, people avoid the fear of rejection and judgment,” Derek explained.
While the data from the questionnaire is proprietary, Derek provided us with some statistical insight about high heel fetishes based on his clients’ responses.
Derek said that in more than three-quarters of the couples he’s interviewed, at least one person shows an interest in high heels.
In fact, more than half of the couples that have used SimpaticUS share that interest.
By gender, Derek shared that well over half of the men interviewed are interested in seeing their partner wear high heels, while a lesser percentage of men say they are interested in watching people other than their partner wearing them.
He added that overall, a small percentage of men are interested in actually wearing heels themselves.
Additionally, Derek noted that many women also expressed an interest in wearing high heels but only a small number said they wanted to watch other people wear them.
Very few women indicated an interest in seeing their partner wear heels.
Knowing all of this, a high heel fetish — or at least an attraction to high heels — is among one of the five most common sexual interests in his compatibility questionnaire, according to Derek.
What this means is that having a high heel fetish is anything but uncommon.
Interestingly, foot and high heel fetishism occur more often during times of sexually-transmitted epidemics, according to a study conducted by Giannini et al. (1998) at Ohio State University.
During the gonorrhea epidemic in 13th century Europe, the Western World syphilis epidemics in the 16th and 19th centuries, and the AIDS epidemic, non-genitalia objects such as shoes and feet were considered a safe alternative to more typical forms of sexual contact.
According to the Giannini et al. study, foot play might have been a way for women to create distance during sexual intimacy while maintaining control of their “feminine power,” of which the foot is a symbol.
The study found that pornographic literature of the time “emphasizes the essentially risk-free nature of foot eroticism,” particularly because men who might be intimidated by women can divert their attention to her feet.
This diversion may help to dispel nervous feelings about the sexual encounter without the man being overwhelmed by a woman’s beauty or affluence.
Is Having A High Heel Fetish (Or Any Kind of Fetish) A Mental Disorder?
Dr. Christopher Jones told us that a fetish is “absolutely not a mental disorder.”
“There is no research that correlates fetishes with mental disorders,” he explains. “Additionally, there is no research that links individuals with fetishes with sexually deviant or sexually illegal acts.”
Fetishism is a type of paraphilia, a condition characterized by aberrant sexual desires, usually involving dangerous or extreme activities.
However, most people with fetishism do not have paraphilia, the latter condition causing pronounced functional impairment or distress for six months or longer.
Robert Thomas, a licensed sex therapist and contributor to the men’s health site Sextopedia, has worked with hundreds of men, women and couples.
He notes that people don’t often discuss the ins and outs of fetishism and how it emerges.
Thomas said a fetish “can be classified from mild to debilitating” and that it “makes sexual activity feel frustrating and incomplete if our overwhelming desires are not met.”
“Once established, fetishism is typically life-long unless treated,” he explained. “Oftentimes, people with strong fetishes cannot achieve an orgasm if their partners are lacking the characteristics they are attracted to.”
That said, a person can have a fetish (or even multiple fetishes) and not have a fetishistic disorder. The latter occurs when a person is suffering from impaired functioning or distress due to their fetish.
However, not everyone experiences functional impairment or distress as a result of a fetish.
“Thanks to sex-positivity and changing social norms, having a fetish is no longer considered inherently disordered,” noted sexologist Dr. McDevitt.
What If You Aren’t Comfortable With Your Significant Other’s High Heel Fetish?
In an ideal world, we would relate to our sexual partners on every conceivable level.
In the real world, however, that’s not always the case. One person’s fetish might be another’s kryptonite.
You might be unsure how to live with a high-heel fetish husband or partner, but the first step is open and honest communication.
If you’re not comfortable with your partner’s high heel fetish but you’re willing to entertain it, share your apprehension but explain that you’d like to give it a shot.
Tell your partner they need to be patient and give you some time to get the hang of this.
Put on the stilettos, walk around the room, and then get in bed. That’s a good place to start.
If your partner wants to touch and caress the shoes — or lick them — let them do it.
If you want to get on board with your significant other’s fetish, there is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.
However, if you are completely uncomfortable with it, you and your partner need to have a “Come to Jesus meeting.”
If you ultimately find wearing high heels in bed to be uncomfortable or that it’s stymieing your ability to have sex, say so. Communication is everything.
Don’t freak out if your partner has a fascination with high heels and would like you to wear them before or even during sex.
It’s a pretty common turn-on for a lot of people.
Furthermore, if your partner wants to be the one wearing them, this isn’t the end of the world, either.
Heels are merely something that excites some people and it isn’t indicative of anything sexually perverse, nor is it a red flag that your partner may be a serial murderer.
“The big takeaway with fetishes is that they’re best embraced instead of bottled up,” noted dating coach Jason Lee.
“I always coach my clients to be open about what turns them on sexually because in the end, it means a better sex life for everyone involved.”
And really, aren’t most of us in search of the best sex possible?
What is your experience with this particular fetish? Were you okay with it or did it seem extremely weird? Hearing what others have to say about this may make other women (and men!) feel a little less strange about going along with this.
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