Wednesday, 24 August 2011
Are you worried about the size of your feet? Do you need help?
Ok, so according to this article at the Daily Fail, those of us with large feet should be worrying about it (thanks to Elissa from Dress with Courage for bringing this to my attention).
Well, I'd like to state that I have had large feet all my life, and somewhere around the age of 13 realised this wasn't going to change, and I better bloody well get on with it. I still have fantasies of chopping my toes off, ala Roald Dahl's Witches (incidentally one of my favourite books, and no I don't have witch foot jealousy), but since I was told exactly how much that would affect my already rubbish balance, they are reserved for my darkest, quietest moments. Usually after a sales assistant has looked at me in disdain at my request for a size 9.
Women's feet by and large stop growing around the age of 13/14. Mine certainly did and I've had a hatred and loathing of shoe shopping since that time. I love shoes, I honestly do. Shoes are beautiful creations that allow women to put on a different persona. I feel so different in a pair of heels to the way I feel in my flats. But I loathe shoe shopping, because there are so few places that stock anything anywhere near big enough.
I'm a size 42 or 43, depending on the brand and cut. I tend to use European sizes for my shoes because it is more consistent - in the UK, for some inexplicable reason, a size 8 is a 41. No, shoe manufacturers, it is not a size 41, it is a size 42. Please get this right, there are women depending on you!! Especially when they then put a 9 as a 42, and actually it is a small 8 and you really did need the 9. PAH!!
Don't even get me started on the time I went into Schuh in Exeter (yes, I'm naming and shaming), and the sales assistant promptly declared that they didn't go above a 7 in their shoes (I know full well that Schuh stocks 9s, they even have a stock checker for each store on their website) and I could always try mens shoes.... Or the time I went into the local branch of Office, and asked for a shoe in a size 9, fair enough, not likely to be in stock as it was a sale shoe, only to be asked "will an 8 not do?" No an 8 won't effing do, I have size 9 feet you moron!!
I was defeated a long time ago. I stopped wearing pretty shoes. I have a couple of pairs, which are lovely and comfortable (Nine West are legends in my book) but it is so heartbreaking to go shoe shopping when you face disappointment at every turn, so I stopped trying. I remember as a teen going with my Mum around Peterborough looking for school shoes for the new academic year. I remember the floods of tears as the frustration set in, the absolute loathing and hatred of my feet that had begun to develop. Apparently quite a lot of women have larger feet. So why isn't this reflected in the choice and availability?
There are hoards of women out there who have resigned themselves to trainers and boring shoes because that is all that they can find (or can be bothered to find) for their feet. And when your shoe choices are limited, your wardrobe becomes limited. Why would you feel the desire to wear a pretty skirt if you knew that all you had was that chunky pair of trainers to wear with it? I know when I buy clothes my first thought is always "how can I make this work with gigantic boots?".
I made peace with my feet as an adult, when the acceptance that wearing pretty shoes wasn't ever going to be a part of my life set in. I have my New Rocks, which I love and adore, and have created an image around. Health reasons mean I don't want to wear heels that much anymore, which is ok (except that flats are even worse to find than heels - thanks to a high arch I find heels a bit easier to get my foot into) but why should I have to compromise?
Even when I do find shoes that run to larger sizes, they are often only available in wide fittings. Which is useless to me (and I'm sure many other large footed women) because I have average feet at best! My feet then slop around in these boats that shoe manufacturers think that large footed women want to wear. Long Tall Sally have tried, bless them, but their range isn't great - I can get some good work shoes out of them, but it isn't exactly imaginative.
There are signs out there that things are changing. Irregular Choice now make 9s in some of their shoes, Hush Puppies make 9s and there is a better selection on line. But its swings and roundabouts - Next used to be my staple shoe store for reliable size 9s - alas, they have shrunk their shoes. Either that or my feet have grown, but seeing as I've got some shoes I've had for 10 years plus that still fit fine I think the former is more likely. Maybe it is the recession - I did notice in the boom years that larger shoes were getting easier to find - maybe the sizes get smaller as companies try to increase the profit margin on their product. Hello - big footed women need shoes too you know!!
There are stores out there, largely on the internet, who do make larger women's shoes. Many of those companies cater for drag queens, resulting in shoes that aren't really suitable or appropriate for the office or the town centre on Saturday lunchtime. Those shoes that are suitable are usually too suitable. Great if you like boring, plain shoes, but if like me you want something more from your footwear, then many are not for you. Or if you do find that magical shoe store that not only sells shoes in larger sizes, but they are also fashionable, pretty shoes, then you can hear your bank manager's scream from where you sit.
I could go on. And on. And on. (and Ariston). The same argument applies to tall women's clothing. For an (if the stats are to be believed) increasing number of women, clothing and footwear is more of a chore than it should be. Maybe if we all revolted together, we'd persuade the high street to help us. Rise up big footed, tall women! Let us march on the headquarters of Phillip Green - he owns half the high street. In our best heels of course!