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).