Italians, often admired for a relaxed lifestyle, have become suddenly preoccupied with slackers.
It started with the Minister of Public Administration (the bureaucracy’s so overgrown it sprouted a minister), Renato Brunetta, who recently “outed” a record number of do-nothing workers.
Truly the elephant in the country’s room, it turns out that public-sector employees were so laid back, they weren’t actually on the job at all.
Now, the provincial government in Modena set out a rule that employees should not wear clothing that can cause injury. This means: no heels, signore.
They put it in black and white after two female workers tumbled from stiletto grace on the stairs at work — something unlikely to happen to a man no matter how stacked his cuban heel.
The reasoning: falling from those vertiginous heights means harm to the worker, which in productivity terms means time off and work left sitting around.
Makes sense doesn’t it?
This Teutonic zeal for productivity, however, clashes like orange on red with the whole dolce vita attitude. Italians are supposed to take it easy, enjoy their balmy weather, eat great food and, of course, look good.
Looking good for Italian women = high heels. And often a hairdresser blow-out, store-bought tan, a layer or two of jewelry and body-conscious clothes. But definitely the heels.
In a work situation, it’s a question of power. Since Italian-born French queen Caterina de Medici, women have tried to elevate their status by stacking their shoes.
On occasion, I have broken my usual ballerina-flat or sneaker stride just for that reason: here it seems that without bone-crushing shoes a woman is inevitably considered too young or too casual (sportivo, or sporty, is a polite adjective I’ve come to hate) to be taken seriously by the gray-suited, gray-haired types who hold the purse strings.
And, forget those women who claim they are comfortable, they are trappings.
Necessary ones, so it seems: a recent fashion article on the Wall Street Journal (assuming that whole concept isn’t an oxymoron) was dedicated to “comfortable power heels.”
Perhaps the shoe stumblers in Modena were silly, tick-tacking time wasters, hobbling between the café and their desks who will now have their minds more on matters at hand rather than having to concentrate while mincing down the stairs.
It’ll be interesting to see if a woman able to walk and move normally can have some clout or humble flats will be worn only by worker drones.