#120 ~ Big Feet, New Shoes

“Extortion when they ‘say’ it’s ‘size 8’ but what they really mean is it’s a size 6 with the wrong label in order to crush your spirits into moon-dust style fragments, and then laugh at your clown feet as you slouch back to return those ‘size 8’ shoes.”

I didn’t quite make 6″. I used to dream about it. My Dad told me if you envisioned something, you could create enough energy to make it manifest. In retrospect I assume my powers of imagination are not as great as i thought…it’s a good thing then, that i don’t study Creative Writing. Yet, although the limbs didn’t stretch that extra inch and a bit, my metatarsals (toe bones…Wikipedia…) kept going like there was no tomorrow. A typical conversation, or rather, abuse, from my childhood:

Uncle: Hey K – Why are you still wearing your flippers, you’re not swimming.

Cousin: Hey K – Guess you won’t need skis eh?

Uncle and Cousin: Hey K – Check out those boats!

Mother: Hey K – Your shoes are expensive!

Friend: Hey K – Wow…you have BIG Feet

Shop Assistant: Excuse me Ma’am – these are Men’s trainers…oh, they’re for you? How old are you…?

I had size 9 feet, yes UK size 9 feet, when I was 9 years old. I remember when I was 7 going into the shoe shop Clark’s and getting my feet measured for new shoes. I had adopted a habit of walking on the sides of my feet (which I still do..the trauma of wearing small shoes has mutated me…) because finally, my mother was convinced I had outgrown my shoes. How much, she was yet to find out. When the woman explained that at the age of 7 I had adults size 5 feet, my mother was sympathetic – shocked, but sympathetic. In a way it made sense – I was 5″ tall, a little giant, so biggish feet were expected. When she realised she now had to pay VAT for my adult sized feet sympathy flew out the window along with her hard-earned cash.

At that point my Mother became a shoe abductor, shoe kidnapper, a shoe pouncer. She was on the prowl.

At the age of 9, I had size 9 feet. Most post-pubescent men don’t have size 9 feet. I was also 5″9 (anyone noticing a trend?). I remember crying violently. In my mind was an image of those old ladies who have leather sacks for shoes, shapeless and held together with thin lace (—> culprits). For some reason I was of the opinion that that’s what happened when your feet got so big Clarke’s and other shoe shops stopped stocking your size. When you had to scan the men’s sections of shoe stores not because you were a ‘tomboy’ but because you had no choice, it was a hard reality to embrace. When I was 11 I hit size 11 shoes – can you guess my height, well done. At that point my Mother became a shoe abductor, shoe kidnapper, a shoe pouncer. She was on the prowl.

I have suffered wearing some, frankly fugly, constructions in my young life. I have merged between men’s, women’s and generally giants shoes. There was even a deluded period when I convinced myself Police-style Doc-Marten’s were not only cool, but acceptable to wear. My friends used to put their shoed feet inside my Doc’s…just to laugh at the space left inside.

I couldn’t wear Converses, I don’t know why 6 footers do. After we had been confronted with the prospect of shopping in Brighton because of the strong drag-scene, well that’s when we had to call it quits. Then one day we found the shop. It was Paradise Lost now Regained. It styled itself not as Magnus, Big and Tall, Elephant Feet (yes these are really the names of big-shoe stores) but as Long Tall Sally. Sexy, seductive, classy and feminine. Though my feet are long, they are also narrow so don’t go with the normal big footer status quo. What LTS, as I fondly call it, did for me was reintroduce elegance to my footwear wardrobe. It also made me the beneficial recipient of shoes, which I neither needed or asked for, bestowed as random gifts. My mother’s theory:

Your feet are so big you never know when you’ll find a pair, so when you do, even if you don’t ‘need it’ buy it. You can never have too many shoes.

Now, I’m not Carrie from Sex in the City – I’ve never even watched the show – nor am I a shoe-manic young woman, in fact I didn’t mind too much pulling on those old skool Vans, or shackin’ out in…well whatever would fit my feet. I’ve never been too bothered with my image probably because it presented such a big issue for me in my childhood. Yet I would assume there are some people slightly envious that I get given said piece of advice as a mandate – whose laughing now Miss i’ve-got-size-3-feet eh?!

when they messed up in the factory and made a size 8 shoe that actually fits. Then you can do a triumphant fist punch as you walk out of a High Street shop and haven’t just taken one of their bags to hide your ‘Elephant Feet’ shoe box.

After recently appealing to my mother’s sentimentalities on my impoverished condition and the fact that my feet were wrinkling as though they sun bathed in their own private time machine due to the plethora of holes that had re-fashioned my daily footwear, I became the recipient of a new box, containing, size 9 shoes – yes, let it be known, your shoe size can depend on the cut of the shoe. This has proven to be both a form of extortion and salvation for big footers like myself. Extortion when they ‘say’ it’s ‘size 8’ but what they really mean is it’s a size 6 with the wrong label in order to crush your spirits into moon-dust style fragments, and then laugh at your clown feet as you slouch back to return those ‘size 8’ shoes. We know what you’re up to Office, M&S, everybody! Conspirators! Salvation when they messed up in the factory and made a size 8 shoe that actually fits. Then you can do a triumphant fist punch as you walk out of a High Street shop and haven’t just taken one of their bags to hide your ‘Elephant Feet’ shoe box.

Yet, as a final message from this mildly digressive rumination of a post, I would just like to clarify one thing.

I love my feet.

I love my slender metatarsals. I love my flat-soled-archeless foundation of this not-quite-six-foot human construction. I find them beautiful, elegant, and would not change them for the world. So, for all you big footers, do not be ashamed.

With big feet, come big hearts, big minds, big smiles, and most importantly big dreams, which we happen to have the advantage of bounding to even faster due to the unimaginable distance we can cover. Learn to love and embrace yourself, your feet, for who they are (and what size). When you accept that, accept it as part of your fantastically fantastic genetic make-up you eliminate the potential for someone to make you feel ‘less’ because of it. You become empowered, and you become you, big feet and all.

So Hurrah for big, elegant feet and the people who provide us with shoes. I feel a big feet revolution coming on. (And Yes, Long Tall Sally feel free to send a cartload of merchandise my way for this free advertisement.)

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