If there's one skill a model at New York Fashion Week needs to have mastered, it's walking gracefully in sky-high heels. They make it look effortless, but even they occasionally fall face first. (Who can forget Naomi Campbell's epic tumble in 9-inch heels?) So just think how risky heels can be for the untrained commoner.
As it turns out, they can be risky, indeed. A Vocativ analysis found that hundreds of women and even a few men are injured every year in high-heel related accidents. To find out just how much trouble those Manolos can get you in, we looked at data from the Consumer Product Safety Commission which tracks product-related injuries in the U.S. every year. We looked at every incident from 2009 until 2014 that involved high heels, and the results were enough to make you swear off those Jimmy Choos for life. During that six year period, 2,591 people total suffered heels-related injuries. Women accounted for 2,525 of those, but even men managed to stumble in with 66 total injuries. Even children aren't immune from the wrath of high heels: Plenty are injured each year while wearing wearing mommy's shoes or toddling around on those little plastic toy heels.
As one might expect, adult women were the most common victims. Their injuries ranged from the minor (twisted ankles) to the very painful (broken feet and legs), and they mostly seemed to come from trying to walk through the world while teetering around with several extra inches of height. Dancing in heels proved especially risky, with 120 people getting hurt while cutting a rug. Alcohol proved a factor in 54 of the accidents, 27 injuries occurred while getting in or out of a car, and getting a heel stuck in something like a sidewalk grate or crack accounted for 23 mishaps.
Some of the injuries were more a matter of bad luck. One 32-year-old woman was walking in heels when she fell and hit her mouth on a wall, cutting her lip. And another very unfortunate 18-year old girl apparently slipped and somehow ended up with a high heel inside her vagina. Yeah, it wouldn't be surprising if she now has a flats-only rule for herself.
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Men who suffered at the spike of a stiletto were far more likely to be victims of heel wounds exacted upon them by others. Of the 66 guys who had heels-related injuries, 28 of them were self-inflicted and many seemed to involve some version of goofing around or showing off. Like the 30-year old man who was doing a handstand and then fell buttocks-first onto one of his wife's high heels.
It really gets interesting when you look at the 38 men who were hit in some way by a high heel. One 15-year-old was playing around with his brother who threw a spiky shoe at him and cut his head open. And then there is the 28-year-old patient who showed up at the doctor with a corneal abrasion after being "kicked by a girl's high heel when at a strip club." Tough to explain that one to your boss the next day.
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Of course plenty of people manage to make it through the day in heels without falling victim to a horrifying trauma. Still, next time you throw on your favorite stilettos, proceed with caution. And maybe don't drink, dance, go anywhere near a car, or a sidewalk. If you'd prefer to play it safe, you can take comfort in the fact that mid-heel shoes are making a comeback. Good news for ankles everywhere.
*Vocativ is an official content partner of New York Fashion Week — The Shows.