Would you like to know the meaning of the red shoes for the Red Shoe Movement? We know there are various connotations for red shoes in different areas and cultures. Let’s discover together the mystery of the red shoes and their secret power.
First we’ll take a brief journey through the history of red shoes. Then I will tell you how the red shoes became the emblem of the Red Shoe Movement. Next, I will share with you what they mean for members and organizations that use our Step Up Plus (our leadership development program.) And finally, I will tell you the meaning of the red shoes for the Red Shoe Movement and their role as change agents through our campaign #RedShoeTuesday.
Is only natural that with a leadership development company called Red Shoe Movement and a cultural awareness campaign called Red Shoe Tuesday, I’m constantly being asked: What’s the meaning of the red shoes for the Red Shoe Movement?
The meaning of the red shoes: A brief journey through History
In the XVII and XVIII centuries, under Louis XIV, only aristocratic men had the right to wear red heels. At the time, red ink came from grinding a red insect imported from Mexico, which made it extremely expensive. This clearly separated the haves and the have-nots. Naturally, red heels went out of fashion with the arrival of the French Revolution.
Two hundred years later, Hans Christian Andersen wrote “The Red Shoes.” This story talked about Karen, a poor girl who, after her mother’s death, is adopted by an elderly, blind woman. One day Karen discovers a pair of red shoes peaking from under the dress of a princess and she’s overcome by the desire to own a pair. Unable to resist her vanity, she gets her adoptive mother (who can’t see the color) to buy her red shoes. Against the orders of the clergy in her church, Karen wears them for her Confirmation and her Communion eliciting negative feelings in the community.
Those red shoes become her obsession and her demise. Once she puts them on, Karen starts dancing frenetically and is unable stop. With a life of their own, the shoes take her into the woods and end up getting her all scratched and hurt. Eventually, exhausted and bloody, Karen ends up in front of the door of the town’s executioner. As punishment for her sins, Karen asks the executioner to cut off her feet and shoes rather than her head. So he does and the feet with the red shoes fly away. The story continues for a bit but the moral seems to be that the red shoes symbolize some obscure desire, the vain nature of Karen, which at the time was considered a big sin.
For you, however, it’s likely that the meaning of the red shoes is closely associated with the Wizard of Oz. In the movie, the magical shoes that help Dorothy return home are red. It’s safe to say that every girl who watched Judy Garland click her heels was left with the impression that red shoes are powerful and magical.
The birth of the red shoes as the Red Shoe Movement emblem
The movement was born out of my book Find Your Inner red Shoes. This work is an invitation for every woman to find her own definition of success so that she can better align her internal motivations with her professional goals and grow faster as a result.
We were looking for an image for the cover that would link the concept of success with women. Thinking about the connections with assertiveness, magic and power of the red shoes, I realized there couldn’t be a better symbol for a movement of women who support each other to fulfill their dreams.
Meaning of the red shoes for our Step Up Plus program members and RSM enthusiasts
The impact of red shoes in corporations that are agents of change
The meaning of the red shoes for the Red Shoe Movement
In the book I suggest that women identify their inner red shoe. Meaning: their passions and interests, which lead to better alignment with career goals. The focus is on following these objectives while honoring one’s style. I discourage women from emulating somebody else’s style, particularly that of the men in their organizations. The red shoes enable each one to express their power with a feminine style.
The meaning of the red shoes for the Red Shoe Movement is power with femininity.
We know that there are areas in the world were red shoes have a different connotation. But the idea of using this symbol is to reclaim it as an icon of the power and style that distinguishes each woman.
Red shoes as propellers of change: #RedShoeTuesday
One of the main motivations to write the book was to help accelerate the representation of women at the highest levels of decision-making. For decades, and despite Diversity and Inclusion initiatives in large corporations and governmental organizations, the needle has refused to move. I knew that part of my contribution to this change would be this book. But I also knew that a book was not enough. We needed a movement that could elicit a quantum leap in global consciousness.
I searched for solutions that had attained immediate results on issues that had remained intractable for years. Problems that seemed to have no solution. Inspired by several ideas that had changed the lives of millions of people overnight, I created #RedShoeTuesday.
#RedShoeTuesday— A cultural and social awareness campaign, establishes one day a week when we all go to work with red shoes and ties to signal our support for women’s career growth. It’s a visual reminder that enables us to keep alive the conversation about how to change the culture and find solutions so that women can access the highest positions. It’s a fun, actionable, and viral idea at the intersection of self-empowerment and fashion.
We backed the campaign with:
- 7 behavioral principles that anyone can implement in their workplace to change the culture. (Here’s the free Guide to Implement the 7 RSM Principles so you can put them in action now!)
- The RSM Circles, mutual-mentoring circles that are set up in workplaces so women can support each other’s professional growth. (You can find out more about our programs here)
- A practical blog with inspiring and practical content.
The campaign is an invitation for men and women to work side by side, as co-creators of a new reality that will benefit society as a whole. Leaving all traits of blame or resentfulness aside. It’s a great way to expand and reinforce networks that promote mutual support among women so that we everyone amplifies their influence and their ability to continue innovating and learning together. The good news is that many studies show that the more diversity in an organization’s executive positions and its board of directors, the better the organization does.
The same is true when societies invest in their girls and women. The result is the ripple effect. Why? Because women invest in their family’s education and health, which produces future generations better equipped to deal with the challenges of our times. Better-educated people have a better quality of life.
What is the meaning of the red shoes in your corner of the world? And what do they mean to you?
Tell us! Let us know what the red shoes mean to you. How do they make you feel? What do they inspire you to do?
Together we can change prejudices and perceptions so that around the world we get to own the symbol of the red shoes.
Latest posts by Mariela Dabbah (see all)
- Leadership Style Quiz: What’s Yours? - April 27, 2021
- The New Normal: The Future of Work Is Here - March 30, 2020
- How aligned are your aspirations with your career? Your success depends on it! - October 31, 2019