Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Small Feet=No Shoes!

I have uncommonly small feet for an adult woman. I wear a size 4 1/2 shoe. Not a 5, not a 5 1/2-a 4 1/2! Depending on the style of the shoe, it is sometimes possible that I might even require a size 4 instead of the half size up. Yes, it is true that while I am slightly under 5  feet in height, my shoe size is still an anomaly. The entire female population of my undersized family wears a size 6 or higher. This little quirk in my genetic matter has proven to be a true albatross. I still have shoes in my closet that are 20 years old, because I can't bear to part with any pair that fits just in case they come back into style. There are 8 year old girls with bigger feet then mine. My twin nieces were handing down their old boots to me three years ago, when they were 11, and they were often too large!! Most shoe store employees look at me like I am from the outer reaches of the solar system when I inquire about the smallest sizes in the shop. Did you know that most shoe manufacturers don't even make sizes lower than a 5 1/2 and even those are becoming rare? The average size of a woman's shoe is a 6, and as such it is not economically feasible for designers, stores or manufacturers to trade in smaller sizes. There just aren't enough of us freaks out there for it to make sense.

It used to be, that if I went shopping early enough in the season, I could find the one "sample" size in a particular design that might (and I emphasize might) fit me. Of course this excursion precluded me from ever purchasing my footwear on sale. Today, the sample sizes are at least a 5 1/2, so even if I was interested in mortgaging my house for boots, it has become impossible. (Shoe warehouses like DSW and Broadway Shoes may be great for the average shoe shopper, but are instruments of torture for me. All those shoes and nary a one for me!! It is like taking me to Hershey Pennsylvania and telling me that they ran out of chocolate. Oh, the humanity!) The suggestion that I look in the children's department has been made to me on several occasions, and believe me, I have shopped in the "Kiddie Kobbler" section of the store more than once. The issues here are twofold. Firstly, kids shoes are designed less for style and more to encourage appropriate walking and posture in younger bodies. (Stunning that we should demand such things for our children, but be totally oblivious to them as we get older. I mean, no body was designed to be carried in 4 1/2 inch stiletto heels!) The square toe and wedge heel has a purpose and is probably far more comfortable, but the "Mary-Jane" patent leather party shoe isn't quite what I had in mind for my little black evening dress. Secondly, kids shoes look great in pink and hot green with maybe a bow here and a buckle there, but again, not really appropriate on this 46 year old foot.

I have also be directed to a wonderful Asian-run mall in the north part of my city. Asian women, I am told, tend to have smaller feet and this mall caters to the community. I did try it once or twice, but again, not quite my style. There used to be a wonderful store down here in the south called Marmi's and they dealt exclusively in petite sizes, but they have recently closed shop and I am back to square one. I have about reached my limit. I have ranted in this space before about the world ignoring those of us that don't conform with the average; those of us who are slightly outside of the box. My conclusion this time is that I will just go barefoot. So, if you see me traipsing around the city this summer without suitable footwear, understand that it is not my choice. I intend to challenge all of those establishments that state "No shirt, no shoes, no service!" I promise you all that I will wear a shirt. (Sorry to all of you who got too excited for a minute!) The shoes might a bit more difficult to come by.

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