Call A Doctor
It was a pain she had never felt before – Much worse than anything she’d ever experienced.
The staff crowed around the door – some confused, others worried. Gossip had already spread and reached the upper echelon. But when she heard the word “ambulance”, the true gravity of the situation finally became clear.
For Maddy, bartending at a casino wasn’t even close to a dream job. It was long hours and countless drunken, annoying patrons. So what made her stay?
Simple. The enormous tips. It would all go towards opening a small cafe and bakery. For two years, things had remained manageable … until one fateful meeting.
The manager stood in front of the bartending staff. Maddy and her friend rolled their eyes as the man adjusted his brand new suit, attempting to look like one of the bigwigs that owned the casino.
“We’re changing the dress code,” he finally said. The next details left her completely stunned.
The men were given the easy job of staying behind the counter. The girls now had to wear skimpy black dresses and high heels while walking the gambling floors … for their entire 12-hour shift!
The room erupted with furious complaints. The manager’s next reaction made Maddy want to spring up on stage and strangle him.
Suck It Up
“Suck it up.” That was the bottom line – not to mention a very clear stance that if they didn’t like it they could quit. Girls like them were “a dime a dozen and easily replaceable.”
Maddy felt bubbling rage course through her veins. It only got worse when she saw the new “uniform.”
The dresses were so intentionally tight, she could barely breathe! The heels were so high, even after 10 minutes, she could feel the discomfort.
Every part of her wanted to tear them off, scream about sexist bosses, and storm out of the building. But that wouldn’t help the rest of the girl. Suddenly, she had an idea. Tonight would be horrible.
While the other girls quickly formed sneaky rotations to take extra breaks off their feet and unzip their dresses, Maddy stood tall and walked the floor exactly how she was “supposed to.”
It didn’t take long for the burning paint to spread quickly through her entire body. But that was just the start of her very painful protest.
Her knees felt like embers. Her hips felt like they were filled with needles. Her feet were pure, wet fire. “Please stop!” the girls begged.
But Maddy gritted her teeth, dug in deep, and kept serving drinks. She would give EXACTLY what the vial manager demanded. By the time 9 pm rolled around, everyone was watching her. What was the outcome?
Maddy hobbled into the changing room, feeling every nerve in her body scream in agony.
There, Ms. Markems from upper management stood in the middle of the room, looking very confused. One of the staff had called her in. As Maddy unzipped the back of her dress, the entire changing room gasped.
Deep, red indentations stayed where the seams and other parts of the tight dress had pressed in. A few would definitely leave bruises.
The new gasp of easy air made Maddy’s head swim and swirl. But it was as the high heels came off, Ms. Markems’ eyes went wide and she clutched her stomach.
Blood oozed from worn, open wounds on her heels and around her toes. The entire inside of her shoes were coated in slimy red. Suddenly, Maddy’s world turned blurry and her body finally gave out.
By the time she woke up again, the agony was still there like the fires of some actual hell, but she could also hear furious yelling.
As Maddy’s distraught friend cradled her in her arms, Ms. Markems stood nose to nose with their immediate manager.
As paramedics rushed in and got her on a gurney, she could hear the blissfully sweet words “PR disaster, lawsuit, misogynistic, ridiculous, and crazy.” The rest of her crusade unfolded in the hospital.
Between the entire female wait staff and their video phones, they had captured everything. Maddy watched the compilation with satisfaction and awe.
Even she was stunned she had made it through the shift. Her raw rage and utter determination had triggered some vital changes. But there was one, in particular, that was very gratifying.
The dresses would stay, but they would be loose and flowing. Shoes were changed back to flats. Men and women bartenders would rotate between the floor and bar.
The vile manager was also put under review … and transferred to an insignificant department. But would Maddy stay?
Upper management had cut her a generous check for her pain and suffering. It wasn’t enough to hand in her resignation the next day, but she was so much closer to her dream.
In a couple of years, she would smell Oolong and scones instead of cocktails and addiction. Then, she would never step foot in a casino again.
An Important Point
Maddie had sacrificed her own well-being for her female coworkers and she made an important point to her boss.
High heels are not only painful, but it was sexist to expect the ladies to be uncomfortable while they worked, but the men weren’t forced to wear anything uncomfortable. Her boss clearly had double-standards.
When asked how Maddie’s loved ones felt about the incident, Maddie said: “With the initial changes, my mother was a bit hesitant saying to wait and see what the dress is like.”
“…how there wasn’t any real need to change it at all, but the heels were a silly idea and a major health and safety hazard.”
She Was Horrified
“She told me to take flat shoes with me and not to push myself, but when I got home at about 8 AM she was horrified,” Maddie explained.
“[she said] it was ridiculous that they expect us to wear them all shift. And they clearly back-tracked when they saw my feet because they knew it meant potential problems.”
Proud Of Her Daughter
“She was supportive but was really concerned about my injuries,” Maddie continued.
“[she said] I should have listened to my coworkers but was proud that I stood up for myself and others, my mother didn’t want me to get hurt. My mother was the one who ended up putting the bandages on [my feet] properly for a while, as she was a nurse.”
“It was about 4-5 years ago now since it happened, but I remember I couldn’t even wear comfortable flat shoes without bandages for around 3 weeks to over a month,” Maddie revealed.
“That was just with the injury to heal enough to not open from the friction. On my days off, I was either sitting because it was sore to walk or pretty much skating around in my socks when it was almost healed.”
Despite the injuries on her feet, Maddie said that, if she was faced with the same situation, she’d do it all over again.
“Yes, I would if there is no other option or it was given on short notice. Not because of vanity reasons, but companies that expect women to wear high heels for extended periods of time is against basic health and safety for individuals and the company.”
“It can permanently damage a woman’s feet and cause unnecessary strain which could lead to further problems. When these dress codes are enforced, they do not seem to consider the individuals comfort in a busy working environment,” Maddie said.
“For myself, I have hypermobility syndrome in my right knee, which I grew up with, which causes my joints to dislocate (especially under pressure). Wearing heels does not help.”
“If I knew what I know now back then I would have definitely have joined a workforce union,” Maddie revealed.
“Also check your company policy is in line with laws and regulations regarding work where you stay, always make sure you know your rights. If they violate it, report it to your union representative.”
Women Shouldn’t Be Forced To Wear Heels
“Personally, I think women should not be forced to wear high heels. Heels should be optional, as long as the shoes don’t cause harm to the individuals,” Maddie expressed.
“Companies could easily say that they want their employees to have professional/smart attire without the inclusion of high heels. There are smart flat shoes available to women as well as heels, so it should be up to the individual.”
Waging War On The Dresscode
In 2017, more than 150,000 people signed a petition in support of London receptionist Nicola Thorp, who was sent home from work without pay after refusing to wear high heels.
Furthermore, an inquiry into work dress codes has exposed “widespread discrimination” against women. Helen Jones, who chairs the Petitions Committee, said there was a “long way” to go to solve the problems, but “everyone in the workplace deserves better than this”.