Feet. They’re funny old things. Some people love them. Others hate them.
Me, I’ve always had an odd relationship with my feet. One of my earliest memories is being turned away from childhood ballet classes, because they didn’t have ballet shoes big enough for my feet! I must have been 3 or 4 at most.
As I grew older and my feet grew with me, it was an exciting thing. I remember wanting my feet to grow a size bigger, because it meant new shoes. I even remember unspoken competitions between classmates, we all wanted to have the biggest shoe size. As I hit a size 5, then a size 6, then a 7 and finally an 8, I grinned proudly.
And then I realized the true implications of being a woman with size 8 feet.
As I say this, I know I’m still one of the ‘lucky’ ones – I have several female friends who are a size 9, and they have ten times more trouble than I do. But still, being a woman with size 8 feet is a real pain in the … foot!
Size 8 is normally the very upper limit of female shoes. As the shoes are normally modeled as a size 4 or 5, often the size 8 is comparatively lumbering and unattractive. The shoe model is stretched from the perfect size 5 proportions, so the larger shoe never looks the same. And that’s if you can actually find a size 8 in the model you want.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve not been able to buy the style I wanted, because it didn’t go up to my size, or because they only stocked 1 or 2 size 8s, and they’d already sold out. I also can’t count how many times I’ve either been offered a men’s style, or actually had to buy from the men’s department – particularly with sports shoes.
But the crazy thing is, my feet really aren’t that big!
I’m 5 foot 8, and my feet are proportionate to my body. Almost every woman I know over 5 foot 6 has feet which are at least a size 7. We all know that lots of women are the same height as some men … so why is it so hard to process that some women have the same size feet as men? And why is that considered a bad thing?
For some reason big feet are considered ugly. Something you shouldn’t talk about, or admit to having. Something manly. But me having size 8 feet isn’t manly – it’s a proportionate reality to the rest of my body. The same way a 5’8’’ guy having size 8 feet isn’t feminine! This isn’t Imperial China, where women had to bind their feet to be ‘beautiful’. It’s almost 2016 for Christ’s sake!
Why am I ranting about my shoe size? Because this week I tried to treat myself. For years I’ve wanted a pair of Christian Louboutin high heels, and I finally decided now was the time. I’d heard the shoes come up small, but if anything, I’m a small size 8 – sometimes squeezing into a 7.5 – so I though I would be fine ordering the Louboutin 41 – an English 8. The box arrived, and I unwrapped the beautiful tissue paper, and gorgeous embossed card. I smiled at the French signature on top of the simple shoe box, and carefully extracted the beautiful patent leather high heels. And then I took one look at them … and realized I wouldn’t even be able to fit two toes inside!
Not to be disheartened, I sent them back and opted for the next size up. 41.5. 8.5. Almost a full size up from the size I’d normally take. The box arrived, and I repeated the process, though I wasn’t quite as excited second time around. And rightly so. As I removed the red soled shoes from the box, I knew they were never going to fit me. At best, the ‘8.5’ was actually a size 6.5.
For years I’ve wanted a pair of Louboutins. They were something I aspired to. Something I wanted to get to make me feel beautiful. Instead, the Louboutins just made me feel ugly. They made my feet feel lumbering and ugly. As if there’s something wrong with me. Something that doesn’t fit into the accepted way things should be.
Clothes come in all shapes and sizes. Society is gradually accepting that big can be beautiful when it comes to other parts of your body. So why are big feet still such a bad thing? Ironically, most of the models we’re presented with by the media as images of ‘beauty’ are over 5’10’’, so likely to have larger feet too!
I posted my thoughts on Facebook last night, and was inundated with responses from female friends who feel the same way. LOTS of women have larger feet … so why aren’t shops and designers catering for us? What do they expect us to do? Bind our feet? Cut off our toes. One friend suggested I buy a pair of sling back Louboutins instead. However I’ve now been put off Christian Louboutin for life! I bought a pair of LK Bennett shoes instead … and treated myself to a purse with the money I saved in the process!