This post is with apologies to Pam Ayres, who I’m sure would have written about shoes and feet if she hadn’t been busy writing about teeth.
I was always fussy about footwear as a child, and deliberately very difficult to buy shoes for. I just didn’t like my toes feeling squashed, and I thought that was quite reasonable. My position softened as I started buying shoes for myself, and I have bought many pairs convinced that I would “break them in” before realising I didn’t have the endurance and pain threshold required for that. At weddings and other fancy dos, I am the first to be flinging aside anything with heels or pointy toes and either going barefoot or relaxing in trainers regardless of the funny looks. No bunions or sprained ankles for me, thank you very much.
As a result, I thought I had a fairly healthy relationship with my feet, overlooking a tendency to get blisters when hiking. I was surprised to find how wrong I was. During a Restorative Exercise class with Kathy Cummings, we were challenged to really look at our feet, and think about how harshly we treat them compared with our hands. What manual dexterity would you have if since the age of a few months, your hands had spent hours every day encased in gloves with a rigid palm?
The particular challenge was to draw around our feet on a blank sheet of paper, then place a pair of shoes on top. I didn’t have a great pen to hand when I tried, but you can just about make out that the big and little toes are “cut off” by the outline of the shoe.
So I started looking for “barefoot” shoes, found a few reviews, a few differences of opinion about what they actually are, and had a sharp intake of breath at the prices. I thought I had prepared myself to spend more than usual, but not quite as much as that! Especially not on something like shoes that I was buying online – it’s enough of a risk buying clothes without trying them on, to buy shoes seemed ridiculous. And they were too expensive so that was that.
Except I kept sneaking looks at the website, hoping that the prices would have changed. Eventually an advert popped up when I was elsewhere online, promising 15% off even on sale items, and I managed to find some presentable shoes (not my first choice, but they will do), in my size and worked out that I could buy two pairs for the price I had considered paying for one. At that point I decided to take the plunge.
Here are is a new picture of the outline of my foot, then the new shoes on top, perfectly covering them, despite the fact that a line drawn around will always make the foot look larger than it is.
The company I bought them from is Vivo Barefoot, although several others are available, particularly in Germany. I’ve only been wearing them a week so can’t say how durable they are, but no complaints from my toes so far.