Feet first

In Shoes on January 18, 2011 at 9:41 pm

Here is your mid-week archives special. I can’t quite remember when this one was from, but it was 2003 or earlier. How time flies. But even eight years later, this subject still makes the back of my neck prickle with outraged irritation.


I sometimes feel we are living in a culture so decadent it makes the last days of ancient Rome seem as restrained as a Shaker barn raising.

There’s so much bare flesh on open display everywhere, filth all over advertising billboards, hideous spam porno in your email inbox every morning and endless ghastly reality TV programmes which celebrate all the worst human characteristics – avarice, envy, selfishness, competitiveness, wind etc.

Then I open American Vogue and read an article about women who have cosmetic surgery – on their feet. Not elective surgery to relieve painful conditions such as bunions, ingrown toenails, or plantar warts, but completely unessential vanity surgery to make their feet look nicer.

‘I got tired of burying my toes in the sand when I went to the beach. It was humiliating,’ says a 37 year-old sales consultant quoted in the article. A woman who clearly has far too much time to think about herself.

The crime nature had committed against her? Her second toes were longer than her first. But not after Dr David Ostad had gone in and shaved 2 mm of bone off the second knuckle of said blighted toes.

Feeling sick yet? Not Ms MeMeMe, she’s thrilled with it all.

‘The transformation is amazing and I was back in high heels in two months.’ Well, thank GOD. She must have felt like the Elephant Woman of Easthampton before the op.

‘More aristocratic, less peasant-like,’ was the request from an unnamed actresses to another New York plastic surgeon, with regard to her own clod hoppers, which were clearly the only thing between her and an Academy Award.

The surgeon was happy to oblige (beach house, beach house, beach house) and promptly lengthened her toes with bone-grafting techniques, removed soft tissue from her instep to narrow her feet and administered fat injections to hide unsightly veins and tendons.

Is there something wrong with me that I find this outrageously vain and self indulgent? Am I some kind of self-righteous do gooder for thinking this doctor’s bone-grafting skills could be better used by land mine maimed children in Africa than by spoiled thespians in Manhattan?

Not that I’m unsympathetic to women who dislike their own feet. I have several friends who long to wear strappy shoes in summer but feel they can’t, because they have less than lovely tootsies. Rather as I would love to wear skimpy little sundresses and feel I can’t because of my overcatered mammary glands. But you get on with it don’t you? You ack-sen-chu-ate the positive and move on.

Not these self-obessed over-indulged New York nugget heads. Consultant podiatrist Suzanne Levine D.P.M. who, it says in the article, ‘regularly performs surgery in her three and a half inch Manolos…’, offers a service where she injects collagen into the balls of people’s feet so that they will find high heels less excruciatingly uncomfortable.

‘Designer high heels like Sergio Rossis may be gorgeous,’ says Dr Levine, someone I would very much like to slap. ‘But they’re very slight-soled. As you age, your feet become less plump, making these delicate shoes less and less comfortable to wear.’

Fine. So stop wearing them.

And it doesn’t end with the collagen. After they’ve had these various foot perfecting procedures (and probably Botox to get rid of those humiliating ankle wrinkles) Dr Levine’s clients then return each month for foot facials (hello?) which cost US$225 a time. This makes me so cross the top of my head is itching.

It’s not that I’m resentful of people having more money than me – so much money they can throw it away on foot facials – or so much spare time they can spend an afternoon a month just having their feet massaged, it’s the overwhelming obsession with the self I find so repugnant.

Come to think of it, they wore sandals all the time in Ancient Rome, didn’t they? I wonder if Caligula ever had a foot facial.

Here’s something these highly-competitive women might like to take part in: the 80 Metre High Heel Sprint held  annually in St Petersberg (in aid of breast cancer charities, judging by all the pink).



And rather than having toe surgery, they could just wear these to the beach.
  1. When I read stuff like this, I get so angry I just want to slap somebody. How can people be so self-absorbed? Imagine what $225 a month could do for a village in Africa with no clean water, or access to medicine? Arggh. Now I’ve got indigestion (it’s late-ish breakfast time here) – thanks Maggie. Now, back to my clogs to tread the grapes.

  2. High-heeled flippers: now that’s a giggle!!

    Never realised that my feet would age until I hit my 40s. Cracked heels and ankle wrinkles (I call them my elephant ankles)! Oh well. Less focus on the sole and more on the soul.

    Elective cosmetic vaginal surgery is also up there (no pun intended) on my list of things I don’t get.

  3. Who knew I was so woefully ugly because my second toe is longer than my big toe. And I have the gall to wear sandals all the time! Must go chop my toes off now…..

  4. Yes, it makes me sick too, Maggie. I saw the film “Desert Flower” the other night. If I had a spare $225 I would be donating it to help spread the word about female genital mutilation. Now these are women with a real problem. As you say, too much money and too much time on their hands to be worrying about such insignificant things.

  5. OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!My second toes are longer than the first and until now I thought this arrangement looked very elegant! Where can I find the good Dr.’s number Maggie? 🙂

    “Not that I’m unsympathetic to women who dislike their own feet. I have several friends who long to wear strappy shoes in summer but feel they can’t, because they have less than lovely tootsies. Rather as I would love to wear skimpy little sundresses and feel I can’t because of my overcatered mammary glands. But you get on with it don’t you? You ack-sen-chu-ate the positive and move on.!”

    I’m sooo behind this – 200% behind you on this, Maggie. And I can add to my list a few more things – shorts, maxi dresses, double-breasted coats, sleeveless tops/dresses… Not for me, not now, not ever.

    So, I’m ack-sen-chu-ating the positive + adding some WOW jewellery [not expensive, just with a good WOW factor – currently wearing 2 wooden rings, a bangle + a long necklace from Oxfam] + a bit of eccentricity [that comes naturally and I can’t help it] and voila – ready to face the world and feeling rather good!

  6. I had always thought my feet were very ugly – mainly because my mother repeatedly told me they were, but as I have become older I think they are fabulous. They have carried me all around the world several times but they sometimes complain a bit. I proudly wear sandals in summer ( a few strategically placed flowers work wonders). Isn’t is sad that people will go to such lengths in the name of vanity, not to mention the criminal waste of money. I live in Brisbane where we have just experienced terrible floods where people have lost everything – – They won’t be concerned with ugly feet.

  7. Yet another brilliant blog! Too right you are. I always thought it was a sign of royalty to have a longer second toe!
    Cheers to you

  8. Great blog. What’s happened to us all, and where CAN I get me a pair of those flippers?

  9. Oh Mags, I know, it is too hideous to think about. It’s up there with rectum bleaching. Yes, Coogan & I were asked to PR a ‘botty bleaching’ company years ago now, had so much fun writing the pitch. Dined out on it for years……Lill x

  10. I don’t know if I’m really amused or really sad. How is it possible to be so self-obsessed? We all have things we don’t like about the way we look (and we think they are worse than they really are) but you just lump it don’t you. You don’t spend a small fortune having painful bone surgery.

    I can only hope they give to charity the same amount of money they spend on surgery.

    (Ooh just noticed a wrinkle on my wrist. Oh my GAHD!! Call my surgeon!! I can’t wear a watch til this is fixed!)

  11. PS: Maggie on Youtube there is a ‘share’ button. Have you tried that? Because it’s easy to embed onto Blogger, should be the same with wordpress.

  12. Sorry me again am not a stalker I promise. Well I’m a nice stalker so it doesn’t count.

    I wanted to tweet this article but can’t see a tweet button. Have I missed it? Maybe add one to the ‘share’ buttons that are already there? Hope you don’t mind this message. I’m actually very nice when people get to know me.

  13. I am proud of my longer second toe, like a classical statue.

  14. Double hurrah! There’s another thingy you can add where all the tweets about a post appear under the comments. Could be another thing to consider.

  15. I just set it up on my blog but my comments are through Disqus – so I just went into my disqus account and ticked the “reactions” button.

    Your comments are through WordPress which I’ve never used but am sure someone else can help, maybe through Twitter? I’m really glad someone told me about this, I love it.

  16. Couldn’t have said it better myself…I think we ned to coin a new term though…”Foocials”.

  17. Foocials. Lovely!

    You can’t balance without your toes anyway(apparently). Don’t study your feet all day and wear fabulous boots in winter and closed-toe slingbacks or something in summer. FFS, these women make me laugh. And cry. I like those flipper heels but would probably prefer them in orange.

  18. $225 for someone to play around with your feet for the afternoon? I could buy 7 brand new paperbacks, or 20 musty old paperbacks for that money. No doubt the sight of my feet and the piles of books in my bedroom would make the foocial women shudder too.

  19. Oooh, love the flipper heels! Haven’t felt so entertained by a single image for ages. My husband has second toes longer than the big toe and it bothers him, but fascinates me. It’s like the second toe has extra energy or enthusiasm or something, literally trying to bust out of the shoe and be off exploring, leaving the stodgy, cautious old big toe behind 🙂 I think it’s gorgeous, and anyway, nobody should be hating on their own feet. Who notices feet anyway? After everything they do for us, we’re worried about their aesthetics?! Ingrates 🙂 And yes, on a serious note, when there are people, including children, who have no feet because of landmines or disease or genetic irregularities or terrible human mistakes like Thalidamide…it does seem terribly shallow to pay someone to make your feet, which fall into the basically normal range, more ‘appealing’. As for the collagen injections – have those people not heard of those gel things you stick to the sole of your shoes for padding? Honestly, why is the most extreme option always the first choice for some people?

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