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Chatterbox: The bare foot contested


So, how does shoe shopping give us a headache … besides the fact that our shoes can be so tight we end up with a migraine?

It’s mid-June and, though I hate to drag my life into a column again, since we’ve already agreed it can’t be helped, I’m jumping in feet first … bare feet first. Though it is true that my own feet were donated by a gorilla, I believe everyone should be able to purchase shoes that fit at least a little.

We’ve talked about shoes before and the fact that they aren’t really designed for feet. Well, women’s shoes aren’t, and this was proven again this past weekend. At a beautiful wedding, as usual, most of the women were shoeless before the champagne toast was over; the men, of course, had no such problem.

Certainly, at a certain age we convert to sensible shoes and the wedding this weekend proved that too. The elders were shoe-ins until the bitter end. The styles may not have been cutting edge but they weren’t cutting our circulation off either. The young gals looked stunning but almost all ended up shoeless or with blistered feet protruding from dollar store flip-flops.

Then, today, I was desperately seeking sandals, after wasting much of the past month trying to find gorilla widths online. It made me wonder again, “Why don’t shoes fit our feet?” It’s nonsensical.

Deciphering the sizing chart on shoes, one can only wonder what wizard came up with this algebraic crazy quilt. It must have been designed before the ruler was invented and has foot lengths that can only result by dividing any small fraction by Pi to the power of pain.

A mere scratch of the surface of the history of shoe sizing will indicate there’s a good chance this was done outside of the royal foot and quite possibly by a person who couldn’t count; we can only wonder.

Just for kicks, I’ll share. The width of a man’s size 5 is the same as that of a women’s size 8. Why? Why do they get more room for toes with a shorter foot? No. Men’s feet aren’t that much wider than women’s. No wonder they never have to take their shoes off at weddings.

Research will also show us that a woman’s size 5 shoe will fit a foot that is, get this, a hair past 8 ½ inches long. I may not be a cobbler but wouldn’t it be easier to just shave that hair off and call that a size 8 ½? After all, we could call a 5-inch foot a size 5 shoe and a 6-inch a size 6. What other length would we use those numbers for? Shoes would be easier to make, sell and buy if we just uniformly size them by the length and width of the foot they’re going on. If we don’t know what size we need, we can just stand on a ruler. I’d even concede to the metric system.

Why do infants and kids have the same number shoes as adults? An infant with a 2-inch foot should wear a size 2. Period. An adult could never have a 2-inch foot, so no one else would ever be using that number. Go ahead, let the kiddies have it. As our feet grow, our shoe size goes up with them. Simple.

And how did such minute fractions get involved in sizing? How did a 10-inch foot become a size 9½ shoe? It’s mystifying that a difference of 5/16 of an inch justified a difference of a whole shoe size. Why we abandoned all common sense in sizing feet is a mystery, but it’s obvious that the shoe industry needs a reboot. All feet should be measured in inches. We must end the insanity.

I’m unaware if this is a worldwide crisis but, in America, well-dressed executives, chic secretaries, and fashionistas are all caught up in this age-old dilemma. Barefoot ladies look awesome in paintings, carrying fruit on their head in a movie, romping in the surf or strolling the boardwalk. Past that, whether Walgreen’s or Weitzman, we want our shoes to fit until the last dance is over and we’re back at home.

I realize that in my ignorance of the cobbling industry, the simplicity of my solution of this age-old problem may be inapplicable, but how? They’re just feet. Measure length and width in inches and shoes will render no pinches. After all, it’s not rocket science.