My feet are not pretty by any stretch. My third, fourth, and fifth toes on both feet are misshapen structures that belie the fact that there are bones inside them. On my right foot, my second toe is larger than my big toe; on my left they’re about equal. Asymmetrical and gnarly. Lucky me!
After carefree summers as a child spent in flip flops and barefoot, stubbing toes daily, like countless other kids, I grew into a self-conscious teenager. And I made efforts to hide my feet, as I did other parts of me that aren’t, weren’t and never will be magazine ready. Even during summer. I’d wear closed-toe sling backs to work or for dress and I'd spend leisure time in Keds, taking them off when I got to the beach and could bury my toes in the sand or be reasonably sure it wasn’t my feet that would be garnering second glances.
Eventually two things happened that made me change my attitude about my feet permanently. (Maybe three, if I want to throw my pre-surgical, former chronic foot pain in the mix.) The first was my discovery of the pedicure, that half-hour spent in an elevated chair with moving and pulsating parts hidden in the Naugahyde that starts with a good soak and takes miles off the tootsies. How cleverly and easily a pedicure—conditioned cuticles and shiny, bright pink toenail polish at the tips of my toes—distracted from the anatomy of my phalanges. Hmmm…
Then, when I started teaching, I noticed all the students (like my friend Joanne) wore sandals in warm weather—girls and boys—like it was the most natural thing to do. I also noticed that some of them had toes even gnarlier than mine. Yet they wore sandals. Teenagers had more confidence than I did! I, who had been walking around this earth on my feet for decades longer than they had and who therefore had more reason to have ugly feet (flawed logic, I know), kept mine hidden. Kids cared less what people thought of their feet and wore shoes that felt comfortable and cool. And I was supposed to be one of their role models?
And so, with my friend Joanne’s help and support, I went to Parade of Shoes with her to try on sandals and experiment with different types to begin The Great Reveal. It took a few years to get all the way there, but eventually I embraced Joanne’s philosophy that sometimes letting them all hang out (rather than get all caught up on toe lines and what’s most flattering) is the best. “Just let them all be out there,” she said. Thus I was finally liberated and began wearing—along with strappies and sandals of all types—thongs, too. (Sandals, that is.) No more partial hiding of toes. These are my feet. They get me from point A to point B. Deal with it.
On second thought, they are kind of cute, aren't they?