The movement, started by 32-year-old actress Yumi Ishikawa, has since gone viral on social media

By Kaitlyn Frey
June 04, 2019 11:43 AM
Yumi Ishikawa

Women in Japan are fighting for the right to choose their footwear.

A petition started by Japanese actress, Yumi Ishikawa, 32, which aims to stop employers from enforcing dress codes that require women to wear heels in the workplace, has since gained over 19,000 signatures in Japan and gone viral on social media.

Ishikawa decided to start the movement, called #KuToo (a reference to the #MeToo movement, Kyoto News reports) after she was forced to change careers because she had difficulty standing in heels for eight hours a day while training for a job.

“This is just the first step,” she said at a press conference. “This is a problem that many women believed was a personal issue because (wearing high heels) is generally seen as good etiquette.”

Ishikawa hopes that starting the conversation about workplace dress codes creates a new norm for women.

“I hope this campaign will change the social norm so that it won’t be considered to be bad manners when women wear flat shoes like men,” she said in the conference.

The debate about women’s footwear trickles all the way to Hollywood, where some A-listers have also fought for the acceptance of flats. After women were turned away from the door of a Cannes Film Festival premiere for wearing flats in 2015, Julia Roberts made a bold statement a year later by going barefoot on the red carpet.

Julia Roberts Cannes Film Festival

Other celebs quite literally followed in Roberts’ footsteps and wore flats to the film festival that year, including Susan Sarandon and Kristen Stewart.