The Mighty Logo

Why I Wear Heels to Job Interviews as a Woman With Cerebral Palsy

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

Ever since I slipped on my first pair of heels, I’ve been a high-heel fanatic. My closet’s full of patent leather pumps, sophisticated, sky-high boots, and glamorous, strappy stilettos.  When it comes to heel height (or the amount of high-heeled shoes crowding my closet), the sky’s the limit!

My ability to walk in those heels, though, often leaves quite a bit to be desired.  As a woman with mild hemiplegia cerebral palsy, balancing several inches above the ground on such a narrow base is extremely challenging.  When I’m wearing heels, I often find myself teetering on my left leg, hoping I won’t stumble and fall. Still, my love for high-heeled shoes far outweighs my dubious ability to walk in them, so I wear them wherever I can: to parties, to nights out, and especially to job interviews.

Recently, someone asked me if I would ever consider wearing flats to interviews, in lieu of my favorite pair of sophisticated patent leather pumps. They expressed that I might have a better chance of landing a job if I chose shoes that would allow me to walk more steadily. After all, they claimed, first impressions matter, including how you walk into your potential future place of employment.

It was a fair point, but I was appalled that anyone would suggest that I appear more “able-bodied” for a job interview. The ableist implication behind the seemingly innocuous comment was crystal-clear: Able-bodied job-seekers get hired; disabled candidates remain unemployed.  If you’re a job-hunter with a disability, you’d better make your symptoms disappear; otherwise you’re out of viable employment options as soon as you walk into your interview.

I objected, refusing to be a pawn in our society’s rampant game of job interview ableism.  If I stopped wearing heels to job interviews just to increase my chances of appearing able-bodied (and therefore getting hired), I would be contributing to the same type of discrimination I fought against. If employers see me as I am, slightly shaky gait and all, I can easily weed out unaccommodating, discriminatory companies, just by being myself. If potential employers would willingly rule out a candidate simply because of the way they walk, would I really want to work alongside them as a person with a movement-related disability? Absolutely not.

The right company will see my slightly stiff gait as a small part of who I am. They’ll take note of my enthusiasm, my ability to communicate clearly, my Spanish-speaking skills, my Bachelor’s degree and my prior experience. They’ll understand that my core values mesh with theirs, that I’m a driven team player, that I’m hoping to evolve alongside them and that I will always pour my heart and soul into everything I do. They’ll hire me on my merits alone, which will vastly overshadow their observations of the marginally unsteady way I walk in heels.

The next time I interview, I’ll be digging out my favorite pair of heels and relishing every moment of feeling (extremely) tall, confident, powerful and capable.  I’ll keep those lackluster flats at the back of the closet where they belong because I know that with my skill set and a confidence-boosting pair of heels, I can compel the perfect company to hire me.

Getty image by DeaGreez.

Originally published: September 3, 2018
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home