Out of all types of shoes, high heels are perhaps the ones most associated with women, and as a result, are often seen as symbols of femininity. However, this does not always mean that this translates into Women Are Delicate. In fact, sometimes it can imply the opposite. A woman in heels can wear heels and still be badass, competent, and in charge. Whether she's an Action Girl, a competent Girl Friday, someone's boss, a lawyer, or any combination of the above, chances are good that when she comes walking in, it will be in a pair of high heels.
There could be a multitude of reasons why this is the case. One is that by putting on heels a woman becomes taller, and therefore, more authoritative. Another is that the stride created by high heels, when done at a quick pace, can go beyond being just a Sexy Walk and actually look very commanding but in a distinctly feminine way. A third reason may stem from the fact that heels are often accepted feminine footwear in most professional settings, especially when paired with a pencil skirt or other business attire, which results in a lot of women in positions of authority wearing them in the workplace (making it varying Truth in Television).
The trend for high heels can also depend on zeitgeist and the state of the economy. It is said that in an economic downturn, such as The Great Depression, The '70s, and the dot-com bubble burst and the recession at both ends of the Turn of the Millennium, high heels are on a rise as a means of flamboyance and escapism. Heels go lower or even flat if the economy is stable and comfortable. If a woman wears high heels when the economy is stable or growing upward, it can be an expression of dominance and sex appeal.
Often part of a Feet-First Introduction, along with She's Got Legs. Sibling trope to Combat Stilettos, though for this trope the woman doesn't have to be an Action Girl to be displaying High Heel Power. She can simply be good at what she does or be in some position of authority. A must for a Lady in a Power Suit, one of the many cases in which High Heel Hurt probably won't apply.
While it's certainly not unknown for men to wear tall shoes in order to appear taller, that tends to have quite different connotations. Since the kind of shoes in question here used to be part of male fashion, and are nowadays part of female fashion, trope examples tend to be Always Female. The obvious exception is the male Crossdresser of all persuasions, who likes high heels for the same reasons women do, and may kick just as much ass in them. For him, though, the heels can be a mixed blessing for increasing his height, with tallness usually considered unfeminine past a certain point—he probably doesn't want to be One Head Taller than his boyfriend (or even girlfriend, if he's straight) when in drag. Tall women face the same dilemma, and so likewise often tend to prefer lower heels. This is often especially true for Transgender persons, for whom conspicuous tallness may likewise be a cause of Pass Fail.
Compare Nice Shoes.
- Kill la Kill: There are several close-ups on Satsuki Kiryuin's heels clicking before she makes a speech or does something badass. Same goes for her mother, Ragyo.
- Aggretsuko: Washimi has this in spades. She wears high heels, and easily dominates her boss, the company president (not sexually: she just shuts down his foolish ideas).
- JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: JoJolion takes the idea to its most bizarre application in Hato Higashikata's Stand Walking Heart, which makes her high heels her actual power.
- My Hero Academia has a rather interesting example. Yaoyorozu and Uraraka are the most upfront Action Girls in their class, and their hero costumes involve them wearing high heels, even though they have to do lots of running and training on uneven/unpaved grounds (i.e the forest training camp) and wearing high heels in these areas isn't really the best choice. In some seasons, their high heels even make noticeable clicking noises during matches.
- Esdeeth from Akame ga Kill! who combines this with Combat Stilettos and Minidress of Power, basically Dressed Like a Dominatrix. She's always wearing high-heeled boots and is a sadistic high-ranking general, as well.
- Discworld: Adora Belle Dearheart from Going Postal and its sequels Making Money and Raising Steam wears high-heeled shoes and is well known for her stern, tough attitude. In her first appearance she makes good use of her high heels against a lecherous drunk by putting one through his foot and threatening to put the other one through his crotch.
- Breaking Bad: Lydia is always seen wearing a pair of blue or black pumps. They receive a lot of focus when she's walking through the New Mexico desert or tiptoeing around dead bodies, showing how at odds her OCD businesswoman side is with the more brutal side of her business.
- Lucifer (2016): Charlotte Richards is seen wearing high heels at all times. She ends up towering over almost every other member of the cast which, combined with her no-nonsense attitude, makes her appear both formidable and intimidating.
- Castle: Detective Kate Beckett typically wears 4-inch heels at work, which have more than once been described as "brutal" and "impractical". She admits to wearing them in order to appear more physically imposing to her (mostly male) co-workers; it's easier for her to be taken seriously when she's literally looking down at them.
- Runaways (2017): While Nico and Tina are spying on Morgan La Fey, Nico remarks, "Forget about magic, I just want her to teach me how to walk like that in heels..."
- Burn Notice features Fiona who's always carrying a gun (or a rifle) and is more than capable of kicking some ass in heels.
- The topic of Beyoncé's song "6 Inch", which introduces a strong working woman first through the sheer height of her shoes.
Six-inch heels, she walked in the club like nobody's business.
Goddamn, she murdered everybody and I was her witness.
- The Music Video for Panic by Lucy stars a giantess in a pair of scarlet stilettos and a matching minidress. All throughout the video she asserts her dominance over the love-struck lead singer by toying with him as he tries to serenade her. By the end she seems to come around after he gives her a ring and seemingly getting engaged to her. Only for her to assert her final act of dominance over him by licking her lips and eating him right then and there. Followed by yanking his guitar out of her mouth and burping loudly.
- Gender Inverted by Jo kwon from 2AM in his music video for Animal. He performs the choreography in six-inch heels.
- Ada Wong of the Resident Evil series is ever the Femme Fatale while casually fighting (or avoiding) genetically engineered monsters, jumping around rooftops with the aid of her Grappling-Hook Gun, infiltrating labs (in order to sell their research to the highest bidder) and always in high heels.
- Quite a few female characters in Fire Emblem wear high heels. They have no problem wearing them while fighting in a war.
- Several female characters in Mortal Kombat wear high heels (like princesses Kitana and Mileena), which seem strangely practical in combat.
- Samus Aran of Metroid fame's Zero Suit incorporates high heels in its design starting with Metroid: Other M. Super Smash Bros. takes it even further, starting in the fourth instalment, by upgrading her to rocket heels.
- 2B, as well as every other YoRHa android in NieR: Automata, wear stilettos to accentuate their design. It certainly gives them a sense of power that they can use them in any terrain.
- Bayonetta is essentially High Heel Power: The Video Game. The titular anti-heroine is a gun-slinging Witch in high heels, that accessorizes her favorite shoes with a pair of matching pistols. Always strutting through her adventures like they were a fashion runway, Bayonetta is a woman that enjoys crushing her foes beneath her heels — sometimes literally, when she stomp-shoots them or summons a giant high-heeled foot to crush enemies. The game's very first images focused on a Feet-First Introduction, showing a stomping high heel with a smoking gun attached to it.
- In Lady of the Shard, the Radiant Goddess and the Old God both appear wearing high heels.
- A common sight on stock photo websites when searching for images related to power dynamics. Expect to find a lot of images of a Giant Woman about to crush a cowering guy under her high heels.
- Steven Universe has White Diamond, who wears extremely stylish high heels upon her Feet-First Introduction, and she asserts her dominance over Steven, or in her mind, Pink Diamond, by sending him to Pink's room before he can even barely speak. It's a thing that all gemkind, especially the bosslike Yellow, fear White Diamond.