I have very large feet. Feet so large that I have trouble finding shoes that fit me in normal stores, and keep thinking I need to find a store that caters to drag queens.
This is in keeping with my ‘generally large’ body type. When I grew to my full height (5’6”) at the ripe old age of 12, and had size 11 wide feet, and hands almost as big as my father’s, my doctor declared that I would likely be 5 foot 9 or 10. Ha ha. Although my weight is appropriate for someone who is 5 foot 10, I remain, more or less, the same size that I was in sixth grade.
But back to my feet. In addition to being the length and width of snowshoes, they are perfectly flat, prone to bunions, and I have this weird toe thing going on that my grandmother had, that makes my second toe on my left foot ache and burn unless I wear these things that feel like giant (soothing) lumps in my shoes.
And yet, I am a woman. Which means, stereotypically, that I like shoes. I like cute shoes. I like heels that give the illusion that I am tall enough for my weight and my legs aren’t quite so short and stubby. I like heels that make my calves look they have muscles. Except that one time I interviewed with Governor Sonny Purdue and I wore four inch heels and no one told me that would make me taller than him.
It was years after bunion surgery before I finally gave up the ghost. It started slowly, when I decided I would only wear heels that had a little strap across the front so that I wouldn’t have to keep my toes all crampy curled to keep the shoes on while I walked down stairs or across a room or something. Then I discovered what I called “orthopedic heels.” These are shoes that cost as much as my car that aren’t quite as cute, but still don’t look like I got them at a nursing home gift shop, and are actually cushioned and supportive and foot shaped. I decided I would transition, as finances allow, to two pair of orthopedic heels per season in two basic colors, black and brown. So now I own four pairs of heels. Two winter, two summer.
And I’m even thinking of giving that up. Fashion be damned. Who am I kidding anyway? I’m really really married. I really really have two kids. Who am I trying to impress? I have enough things getting in my way of getting things done without adding the distraction of aching feet to the mix. And besides, the more dress-up occasions I go to where I am wearing heels and my husband complains that his dress shoes (which are flat, foot-shaped, wide, and have laces for adjustable custom fit) hurt his feet, the more danger he is of ending up in the emergency room with a three-inch stiletto sticking out of his forehead.
All of which is an incredibly long introduction to the following observation: I recently visited Universal Studios Orlando with my family. While there, I wore practical shorts with deep pockets, t-shirts, and athletic socks and sneakers. I wore no makeup and brushed, but didn’t fix my hair in any way. I know that I looked like dumpy middle-aged suburban Mom, complete with my plaid tourist shorts and lanyard around my neck containing my “Express Pass” and “Star Photo Card.” I wasn’t trying to look cute. I was trying to have the appropriate parts covered, and be functional, and keep track of my children. So it isn’t fair to compare me to the cute, skinny 18-25 demographic prancing around with their boyfriends. But really. I saw so many girls (and yes, everyone under 30 is a ‘girl’ as I define the word) wearing mini skirts and heels. Heels. Heels! In what universe is that a good idea? We walked 724 miles each day, and that was just to get to the first ride, not counting standing in line for 45 minutes to ride it. Wearing my running shoes with the orthotic inserts, my legs were shaky and achy by lunchtime. I cannot imagine making it past the front gate in heels without ending up in tears and with a permanent limp.
Some women were still so image conscious that even being over 30 and sometimes with kids they were wearing cute leopard print flats with pointy toes or sparkles. Shoes that were made to look good, not distance walk in or stand for more than 10 minutes. Once I noticed this, I couldn’t not notice it. Very few women were wearing sneakers or traditional walking shoes. A lot of them were wearing flip flops, which I will grant you are better than dress flats or heels, but still not distance walking shoes. Men, on the other hand, all wore either sneakers, boat shoes, or flip flops. Not a pointy toe or stacked heel to be found.
So what it all boils down to is this: we can choose to look cute or we can minimize the pain in our lives. Alternatively, we middle aged folks, with our buying power and influence, can demand that shoes that don’t require our foot to be squeezed into shapes not found in nature be considered the height of fashion. “Manshoes for the fall! Now in silver sparkle and pumpkin suede!”
Meh. Who am I kidding? Those yellow patent leather shoes with the cork heels are too cute. Do you think they come in an 11 wide?