It used to be true that bigger was considered better. Big bank accounts, big cars, big houses were the battle cry. The pendulum seems to now be swinging back the other way. Financial independence is great, and being poor is no picnic, but the excessive wealth and greed of the 80’s and 90’s (see “Wolf of Wall Street”) is making way for a generation who doesn’t necessarily aspire to be part of the 1%. Gas-guzzling Hummers and SUVs are transitioning into fuel-efficient hybrids. McMansions have become cliché as the shelter magazines implore us to choose quality design over mega mass production.
There are a few things that I believe can never be too large. A broad smile can never be too big and I’ve never thought I would rather have a smaller piece of chocolate cake. However, there is definitely one area where I can attest that size matters and bigger is not better: feet.
When I was 12 years old, during those awkward tween years, I began the 7th grade at four foot eleven inches tall, 100 lbs, and sporting size eleven shoes. I moved like a deranged stork, all long limbs and big hands and feet, plodding along about as graceful as a grizzly bear. Yes, you read that right – I wore size eleven shoes. I usually attribute this anomaly to growing up in Florida where I ran around bare-footed all summer and most days after school. It stands to reasons that if your feet are unimpeded in their ability to spread out you’re going to end up with some whoppers. It’s a theory.
Back in 1976 there were NO size eleven shoes for girls. I did luck out in that we were in the middle of the earth shoes craze, which were somewhat gender neutral. I could get away with sporting men’s size nine shoes as long as they were sneakers, flip flops, or those life-saving earth shoes.
Fast forward four decades and the selection of shoes for us big-footed wonder gals has improved somewhat. I am still surprised that in most stores the selection of size elevens almost never includes anything dainty or flat. The limited assortment usually includes three and four inch high platforms and boots, with limited sensible pumps.
The industry seems to be slow to fully respond to the upward size trend. The National Shoe Retailers Association tracks sizes and has reported that foot size has grown by a size or so over the past three decades. “For women, we say 8 1/2 is the new 7,” said Mark Denkler, chairman of the National Shoe Retailers Association (accessed and cited April 3, 2014 http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/homegarden/173960701.html?refer=y).
Being that most of us in the land of the big feet are not tiny women – I’m now five foot eight having grown somewhat into my large extremities – we’re usually not looking to add several inches to our already tall stature. I’m telling you, there is a goldmine of opportunity for a savvy shoe designer who finally realizes that flats and cute shoes in sizes ten and up have a ready and eager demographic who are hungry for product.
It turns out I’m in very good company; there are some very famous big-footed gals. Would you believe that Jacqueline Kennedy wore a size ten? I know, she was so dainty! Michelle Obama wears size twelve shoes. One of my favorite actresses, Allison Janney (who is SO my pick to play me in a movie) also sports size elevens. There are many others: Kate Winslet, Uma Therman, Meg Ryan, Audrey Hepburn (!) – all size eleven girls. I wish they would tell me where they find all their fabulous shoes.
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/fred_baby/3447565002/”>fred baby</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a>
Truth be told, over the years I’ve made peace with the fact that I can’t change the size of my feet. I can lose weight, change the color and style of my hair, even bleach my teeth, but my feet are my feet and they’ve carried me on some great adventures. I try to take good care of them and treat them to a pretty pedicure on a regular basis. I wonder where they’ll take me today?
Do you have a physical attribute that you would change if you could? Do you have a feature that you’ve come to accept and even love because it makes you unique?