OMG shoes.

This shoe.  It looks innocent enough, right?  Simple, synthetic leather foot bed, patent leather straps, sturdy plastic sole.  I'm not even going to ask you to look at it any closer than that, really, because aesthetics aside, the issue is obvious. The only person this shoe would accommodate would be a person with a flat foot, which is technically a serious medical condition that increases the risk of arthritis in the feet and ankles.  
 This is what women have to choose from every summer.

I'm currently facing the annual headache that is Summer Shoe Acquisition.  When I was a little kid I told my mom, who had severely damaged toes and feet from decades of government drone shoe wearing, that I would never wear shoes that squished my toes.  I've stayed true to this with the exception of a few special occasions when I've worn heels for formal functions.  It has served me well, as my feet are not as hideous or angry as the feet of my peers can be, given the necessity for shitty shoes.  I did, however, work retail for 40-60 hours a week for close to eight years.  So while my feet look ok, they do not tolerate poorly constructed shoes that offer no support for any length of time.  That coupled with the fact that I'm fat and prone to wearing out cheap shoes quickly, I find that I'm left with a dearth of tolerable shoe choices.  I have wide feet (because of my bone structure AND because I'm fat) and I am a pronator.  Win all around!

As a plain and simple person, I want shoes that are simultaneously comfortable in a way that actually supports the proper function of my foot as well as something not overly obtrusive or visually offensive.  I am pro-Crocs, but they have not come close to making an attractive shoe.  I also find that in the summer, when your feet are sweatier than normal, Crocs become a dangerous combination of plastic sauna and slip-n-slide during periods of time when I'm on my feet a lot.  I continue to stay mad at Old Navy, who changed their flip flop design approximately two years ago forcing my feet to callous in two particular sensitive places.  As far as cheap flip flops go, though, they are moderately squishy.  I wandered up and down the aisles of Target's shoe section yesterday and was completely irritated by the polarized choices before me.  Either I wear poorly constructed heels or flats to all of my life's functions, or I wear plastic flip flops in a variety of ridiculous colors.  Or gladiator sandals.  Ugh.  There is no in between, and my life exists both personally and professionally in this fashion middle-ground. 

What makes me most angry is that most of these choices, whether they are formal, casual or designed for the beach, are bad for your body.  Arches fall, bunions grow, toes hammer, ankles break or strain, muscles weaken, arthritis develops, fungus grows, nails fall off.  We do this for what?  For fashion?  To satisfy some ridiculous expectation that a woman's foot still maintains a sexually gratifying appearance despite being abused on a daily basis?  To make our legs look awesome?  I honor that this is Feminism 101 Outrage.  Still though, I am an almost-31 year old woman who faces this Every. Single. Year.

Do you have shoes that you wear with any regularity that are legitimately comfortable, reasonably priced and relatively attractive?  Or do you too suffer from the sweaty, ripped up, aching flat-footed misery of summer shoes?  I really need to know.

6 comments:

  1. I also have wide feet, a bad left ankle and I overpronate. My feet tend to sweat a lot, too. Most women's shoes in general aren't made for me. I think because I've had so many ankle injuries, I'm not willing to compromise and buy shoes that don't fit my feet in all ways, which means that most "bargain" shoes (Old Navy, Gap, DSW, Payless, etc...) don't work, especially since plastic shoes mean that my feet are overheated in 10 minutes. That means finding wide width shoes. For whatever reason, the only wide width shoes in the world are hideously ugly. And expensive.

    I used to not think it was a big deal until I changed jobs and upgraded my dress code from business casual to just business. Suddenly the sneakers and jeans I wore daily were no longer acceptable and I switched to heels and flats. Not coincidentally, this is when I started having ankle issues. I tried to get back into yoga only to find out that wearing flats with no support has caused my arches to fall, making most yoga poses murder on my feet. I've actually cried from cramps and had to stop in several sessions. Then I quit doing yoga.

    When you're fat and need clothes, you're constantly reminded of how you're "other" - you can't shop at Banana Republic or Forever 21 or H&M, because you don't exist to them. So you're stuck with the ugly polyester mumus for $70 from Lane Bryant. I feel like it's the same thing with shoes.

    That being said, DSW.com does have some wide width shoes that are cute, but they are expensive.

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  2. I stand up for two to four hours each day, sometimes in a row. I have a comfortable pair of black shoes and brown shoes....other than that i try to wear "cute" shoes, and end up with blisters or sore aching feet, knees and legs. I love cute summer shoes, but am usually not in mood to be outside after days of standing....so i don't get shoes. plus i'm cheap, neither predicament works for me. I think the fashion industry is out to get us all.

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  3. In Australia there's a brand called Homy Ped which sells through pharmacies. Traditionally their shoes are for old ladies and nurses, but they've expanded their range to include young, pretty shoes as well. Not cheap, but you can live in them day-in-day-out with nary a blister. I got a pair of sandals where the factory insert can be removed and replaced with my own orthotics. I'm the coolest 31yo I know! (not.) Maybe there's a similar old-lady brand in the US?
    http://homyped.com.au/

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  4. Honestly, I think you just have to go more expensive. They are actually comfortable, and they last longer. Your feet are worth it. I've got a pair of 80 dollar Privo sneakers that are going strong after 3 years of daily use. Yeah, it's painful to buy 80 dollar shoes, but you don't have to do it as often. And your feet are happy.

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  5. I spend the summer in tennis shoes, or keen sandals. the pair i have are actual sandals-- the model is called the Catalina. no clue if they still make them.

    i can't stand flip flops.

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  6. I think treeathie is right about shelling out for quality. I have flat feet (thanks dad!) and so most times I have to wear sneakers with orthotics. I also have a large/high instep and weak ankles from 3 years of waitressing. Also am about 60 lbs overweight, so need to treat the dogs with care. monthly pedicures are great, even if you have to do them yourself!

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