While people rarely notice their span, I have always been aware of my long feet. Maybe because they seem proportional to my nearly 5′ 9″ stature, people don’t seem to take notice.
But from a young age, I have been aware that the size of my feet was more than a little “different” from other girls my age. When I was six years old, I wore a women’s size 6 shoe. I remember the frustration that my mother expressed at the limited selection. Imagine trying to shop for an age-appropriate shoe for your first grade daughter, among a selection intended for grown-ass women. Subsequent years proved equally daunting.
- At age 7, I wore a seven.
- At age 8, I wore an eight.
- At age 9, I wore a nine.
From the age of ten, until I had my first son decades later, I wore a 10.
When my mother took me shopping for the ninth-grade dance, the shoe salesman tried convincing me that a nine would work. He asked something stupid like, “Wouldn’t you rather wear a nine than a ten?” (Side note: I never really cared much for men who thought they knew what was best for me.) We purchased the tens.
Back in the day, shopping for that size shoe offered few GOOD options. It was as if shoe manufacturers decided that Earth Women simply did not grow to that size and therefore, shoes would be primarily restricted to two varieties: the Pilgrim Clodhopper (i.e., thick, clunky heel, lots of black leather with big buckle attached to some part of the shoe surface; or the Drag Queen Stiletto (i.e., high-heeled, loaded with feathers and/or sequence, and usually available in a bright color, like fuchsia, with or without a bow).
Shoe shopping today has definitely improved. Most retailers carry one or two pairs in my size, but they always sell out quickly. (Apparently there are lots of other girls out there with long feet.) But not very long ago, I walked into a department store and inquired whether they sold my size. The saleswoman’s response: ” No we do not!” And she seemed annoyed that I bothered to ask.
Fortunately for me, EVERYONE’S feet have gotten longer over time. Podiatric historian William Rossi explained it this way to lifestyle blog Divine Caroline, “People are getting taller and heavier, as they have for generation after generation. And their feet are getting larger in proportion to their bodies.”
Today, the average American woman wears between an 8 1/2 – 9. I may still be outside the boundaries of “average” but had I lived in the 1800’s, when the average woman wore a size 3 1/2 – 4, I likely would have been burned at the stake.
So here’s this Size 11 Girl’s Latest Shoe Faux Paux.
Two days ago I ordered a pair of White Mountain sandals. Since the Macy’s near me didn’t have them in stock, I drove 20 miles away to pick them up. I even checked the size stamp inside the shoes before returning home. When I modeled them for my mother-in-law, she remarked, “I don’t like the way your heel is hanging off of that right shoe.” She was correct. I slipped them off and measured.
(Sigh) Guess I won’t be walking a mile in these shoes.