On My Feet

My feet are not pretty, nor are they delicate. They are lumpy. Some of my toes are sticking in strange directions. In fact, my toes are not flat like a normal foot, but they curve down at the end of each one. This is with the exception of both of my big toes, my "turtle toes," that curve up and cause me to get the most obnoxious looking holes in all of my Toms shoes. I suppose that is what I get for not wearing socks with them, but socks with Toms look so strange. My feet are unnaturally long and skinny, I probably have bunions, and my heels, toes, and balls of my feet are completely covered in calluses.

There are reasons for these deformities, of course. Shoes. Many different kinds of shoes. Pointe shoes, tap shoes, jazz shoes, ballet shoes – they all had a part in the unbecoming of my feet. As previously stated, my feet are long and skinny. Being both long and skinny does not bode well for shoe fittings. Typically, skinny feet are short. Apparently, the longer your feet get, the wider they are expected to be. I had many a dance teacher tell me, especially for pointe shoes, that the width of the shoe fitting me was much more important than the length. So pointe shoe after pointe shoe, jazz shoe after jazz shoe, my feet were balled up inside shoes that were much too small.

It was almost like how Chinese women wrap their feet in ribbon so that they will be smaller, because it is impressive, in their society, to have small feet. My toes always had to curl up in my shoes, which is why they now curve down and inward at the ends. Obviously, the worst of these shoes were the pointe shoes. Not only were they small and squishing my feet to death, but I was also expected to stand on my toes – the very same toes that were being crushed inside the shoe. One time it was so painful that I just sat down and started crying. My pointe teacher was unhappy with me, but I asserted that my shoes did not fit and it hurt too badly to do the exercises across the floor.

I continued, for the next two years, to try on pointe shoes in a store, decide they were good enough, and then go to class and not be able to dance in them. There was no brand of shoe, and no size of shoe, that would fit my feet, but the damage was already done. My toes face inward, like the point you see on high-heeled shoes sometimes, and they curve in unnatural directions. I have ingrown toenails because of this, and the angle my toes now face have caused me to get bunions on my feet.

A similar process happened with tap, jazz, and ballet shoes until we found a company that made tap shoes in a narrow size. Then it just was ballet and jazz. I quit taking pointe classes after those two years, but my feet continued to get deformed from all of the workshops I did where I was forced to wear my ballet and jazz shoes that were just too small, but I wouldn't take them off until I got to the point where I legitimately could not feel my feet – I was concerned that it might be unhealthy, which is the only reason why I removed the shoes.

I don't take dance classes anymore, but I still hate my feet. Granted, I now have the ability to wear shoes that are one to two sizes too small, since my toes are so capable of crushing themselves. It is nice to be able to have that large of a range of shoe sizes, but I do prefer for me feet not to be in pain. I don't particularly like wearing shoes that expose my feet or toes, like flip flops, because I always feel like people are judging me for how deformed they look. However, when I explain I am a dancer, people usually have an easier time understanding – apparently, it is common knowledge that dancers' feet are gross.

A/N: Yet again, a piece for Intro to Creative Writing. We were to write a personal essay about our feet that was to be titled "On My Feet." This is the product.

C. E. Taylor