Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Least Glamorous Feature: My Feet

I have large feet, always have. I passed through my mother's shoe size in the fifth grade and kept on going. For most of my adult life, I've worn a size 10 (!) shoe.

When you wear a size 10, shoe shopping is no picnic. The world is made for the size 7s and 8s of the world, shoe-wise. Lots of shoes that look amazing and kick-ass in a size 7 or 8 look weirdly monstrous and boat-like in a size 10. Especially if, like me, you live in high heels (but not the little spindly heels, they have to be a good-sized heel to hold all 5'9" of me up!).

So, imagine my horror as my feet swelled and my calves and ankles teamed up into cankles for the last two months of my pregnancy. I was literally down to my last pair of shoes--a slide-on flat that I almost couldn't slide my toes under at the end (they were only half on, really), so huge were my feet. Aha! I thought. This is where the expression 'barefoot and pregnant' comes from--you end up literally barefoot at the end! It was so bad that my boss took pity on me and let me work from home a few days a week for the last few weeks of my pregnancy. No one wanted to have to look at my huge, scary cankles and listen to me shuffle around the office with my feet half out of my shoes.

As the end of my pregnancy drew near, I made plans. "I'm going to burn these horrible slide-on shoes after the baby comes!" "I can't wait until I can wear all my pretty size-10 heels again!" "I'm going to buy pretty new size-10 shoes to treat myself for having to wear these ugly slide-on shoes for the last few months!" etc.

I brought the baby home wearing the ugly shoes. And I kept wearing them, probably for the first month or two of her life. Meanwhile, the first 25 pounds of baby weight came slowly off, my feet went down to normal, my calves and ankles separated into two entities, and I anticipated my return to Size-10 High-Heel Glory.

Then, I began trying on all my shoes.

And almost all of them DIDN'T FIT.

Horrifically, post-pregnancy I am now a SIZE 11! 11! 11! Nineteen months...nineteen shoe-stressed months later, I still can't believe it.

My husband tried to console me at first. You haven't lost all your baby weight yet, he said. You should keep the shoes for when you lose the rest of the weight and they fit again. So I packed 30-plus pairs of shoes away into a bin for nine months. I lost the rest of my baby weight. I tried them all on again. No go. Still an 11.

When you're a size 11, there is no such thing as shoe shopping. There's no, gee, I really need a new pair of sexy black heels, let's go find some. It doesn't happen. 99.9 precent of stores do not carry an 11 in store. Most of them don't carry an 11 online either and I have to try a shoe on to know if it is going to work for me anyway.

The one store in town that carries a selection of size 11 shoes is Nordstrom's The Rack. Shoe shopping is, what does The Rack have in size 11? Will any of these weird shoes available in size 11 work with anything I own? Why are there no sexy black heels in size 11 here?

Last fall, I got really desperate. I needed to find a pair of knee-high black high-heel boots, a staple of my fall wardrobe, to replace the pair I could no longer wear. The Rack did not have anything, so I took a chance and went to Nordstrom proper. No point in actually looking at any of the shoes...I just cornered a salesgirl and asked her if they carried any size 11s. Yes, she replied. Hallelujah, I said. Please bring me any and all knee-high black high-heel boots you have in an 11. She returned with four pairs of black knee-high boots. Three of them were flat boots.

The single solitary pair of knee-high black high heel boots were by Cole Haan--gorgeous, incredibly comfortable boots (some sort of Nike Air cushioning inside) that made my calves look slim, slim, slim. I loved them. They were The Perfect Boots. My luck is changing, I thought! How much do these cost, I asked. $249, the salesgirl replied. $249!!!!!! I swallowed hard, pulled out my credit card, and bought them. I've never spent that much on a pair of shoes in my life! But, as I reminded my husband, they were THE ONLY BOOTS IN MY SIZE IN TOWN. A town that is the SEVENTH LARGEST CITY IN THE UNITED STATES.

There is no glamour in having size 11 feet. And sadly, I think my daughter will suffer the same fate as me. Already at 19 months, she wears a toddler size 8 shoe, which is a few sizes larger than most of my friends' kids of similar ages. And like me, the tops of her feet are very high, so lots of shoes with straps across the top are a no-go because her little feet won't slide under the straps! All those adorable little sparkly ballerina flats for toddlers...she can't wear any of them. So now I'm stressed about shoe shopping for two. As if my size 11 issue wasn't enough!

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