Dear Ask the Shoe Lady Readers,
What a choice facing women who want to be fashionable: cut the shoes to fit the feet? Or Cut the feet to fit the shoes? Recent news reports suggest many fashionistas are choosing to cut their feet. Surgery to shorten toe bones to better fit current shoe styles is on the rise.
Couldn’t women just wear bigger size shoes?
It’s not enough to just get a shoe long enough. Women are influenced by the media and peer pressure. They are looking for 4 inch heels, according to Dr. Sharon Dreeben, and orthopedic surgeon in LaJolla, California. “In the 16 th century Venice women felt fashion required them to hobble around on 10 inch cylinders under their feet. But they also had a man on each side to support them.” “When wearing higher heels, 70% of our weight is shifted to our metatarsals. The ball of our foot is not designed for this weight”, she said.
According to Dr. Rock Positano, Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan, there is an “amazing naivete” among the public – most women don’t know what their real shoe size is when they buy these shoes. He advises women to measure their feet periodically just like they have a periodic eye exam. A study by the Foot and Ankle Society done around 1996 found that 90% of women wear shoes one to two sizes too small because they do not know their correct size. George Tzamaras, American Podiatric Medicine Association, says “Women’s feet grow larger with age and pregnancy. Ligaments release and fatty tissue breaks down making feet both wider and longer. It’s not uncommon for a woman’s foot to grow one to two sizes between the ages of 20 and 45 years old.”
This “Cinderella complex”, women wearing shoes too small, means muscles, tendons, tissues and bones can’t function properly so women get bunions, hammertoes, etc “Women can wear these higher heel fashion shoes if they have accurately assessed the size of their foot and if they don’t have Achilles tendon problems” says Positano. “Going out to a party for two or three hours is great. But don’t expect to walk several blocks or stay on your feet all day. That’s ridiculous. Everything in moderation.”
Few people in the fashion industry or the footwear industry appreciate just how fast these feet are growing according to Barbara Thornton, President, DesignerShoes.com, an e-commerce site store that caters ONLY to fashion oriented “women who leave a larger footprint”. “In 1987 only about 11% of all women needed size 9 and above. By 2000 over 37% of women need these larger sizes. Size 12 medium is the core in her business, with sizes ranging from 4 extra wide to 15 medium. “Women find us when they are searching for a combination of great fashion and good fit that makes the look stylish and the feel tolerably comfortable.
Width is important too. According to Tzamaras, “There is no real uniformity in sizing among brands.” A medium, wide or extra wide designation means pretty much what the manufacturer wants it to mean. Thornton says women are looking for greater width as well as length in fashion shoes. For every customer looking to her site for a narrow size, 250 customers are looking for a wider size.
Not only does DesignerShoes.com provide a huge selection of brand name styles similar to those seen in top fashion magazines, the business is dedicated to the now acceptable idea that healthy feet are going to carry women further than aching and abused feet tortured by improper size and style. “The idea that women are having foot operations to be able to wear the fashion dictators’ styles is unacceptable here” says Thornton. Positano emphasizes, “To take a perfectly functioning healthy foot and change the architecture and then have something go wrong is a terrible thing!” Thornton agrees. She does sell some 3 and 4 inch heels but warns, “These are to be worn for a few hours a day, sitting in a café or on a bar stool. And an escort to lean on is highly recommended!”
DesignerShoes.com is the premiere provider of contemporary, fashion and designer couture shoes in narrow, wide and extra wide in sizes 4 to 14, and medium in sizes 4 to 15. Founded in 1997 by Harvard Business School graduate, Barbara Thornton, and distinguished as the destination for women who leave a larger footprint, DesignerShoes.com offers over 1500 styles in size 12, alone. For more information call , and outside Massachusetts at (7463). Log on to shop at www.designershoes.com .