I think they got the wrong message out of Cinderella
It is 8 o’clock on a serene blue morning in Beverly Hills and Dr Ali Sadrieh, a podiatrist, has just performed a 45-minute operation on a client, cutting a section of bone out of her toe to shorten it. She was awake during surgery, watching a film; next week Sadrieh will do the same thing to the second toe on the other foot. There was nothing medically wrong with the toes, but his patient didn’t like the way they protruded over the lip of her high-heeled Manolo Blahniks.
Welcome to the wilder shores of La-La Land, where cosmetic surgery has finally travelled the full length of the female form. Down the phone line from California, Sadrieh’s voice is upbeat: “Toes are the new nose,” he tells me happily. “Just a little marketing phrase I’ve coined.” His demographic in Beverly Hills, he explains, includes a high percentage of young attractive women who take care of their feet: they have regular pedicures, paint their nails and wear shoes that expose their toes, and they are unhappy if the second one hangs over the edge.
There's another chick in this article who was so unhappy with her feet (which, truth be told, sound like they looked just like mine, isn't that a cheerful thought?) that she had freakishly extensive surgery that they called a 'full foot lift'. They basically changed the whole shape of her foot. Her FOOT. That she uses to WALK. Because she felt that her feet were ugly, she chose major surgery (including for the love of God FAT REDUCTION ON HER TOES) which left her unable to walk for weeks, wracked with pain, and she's still on crutches and hobbling around.
The part that really killed me was the end, where it was indicated that this is the new plastic surgery fad that's sweeping the nation (or, at least, the parts with too much money and not enough common sense or self-esteem), because even pretty girls are discontented with how their feet look. So, I guess, yay for them, because now they can get surgery for that and finally move on to finding some other imaginary quality about their bodies unattractive.
Wow. People, I have seen a great many feet in my time, because they're the one thing that (up until this point, apparently) haven't haven't had the "approved proper shape" declared by the powers that be and thus forced people to be exceedingly self-conscious of them. Folks let the feet fly free all summer long, even people who cover up all other body parts, and so it's easy to get a look at a whole lot of feet and get a realistic view of what the range of "normal" is for human feet-- and that's a pretty damn wide range. I think what I'm trying to say, here, is that this may well be the only body part that I don't have some kind of issue about, because I've really never seriously thought that there was a "right" way for feet to look.
Let me tell you about my feet. I have feet like my mother's, only longer, which only makes sense since I'm taller, too, so my feet are proportionally different from hers. They are short in length, size six and a half, and are majestically broad; I don't so much have regular feet as I have tripods. They're pure hell to try to shove into those pointed pumps that people like so much for some reason (I do not get it, I may never get it, and I am grateful that due to the natural shape of my feet I have never worn them and so don't have my toes permanently jammed into that wedge shape). They have very high arches and lovely narrow heels, qualities which once made a dance teacher of mine very jealous. They have massive callouses, almost entirely on the ball of each foot, which adds to the fun of getting the things shod. They are very sensitive on the arches, and I have found that if I can relax the arches of my feet, I relax everything. They are goddamn strong. They are tripodal, which gives me an extra boost in balance. They have forcibly kept me away from entire species of shoe which, if I had fit into them, would have hobbled me or left me mincing along, unable to stroll across the Loop in the mornings, unable to put on a burst of speed to get to the elevator right before it closes, unable to walk for walking's sake any time I choose. They have, in doing so, shaped my life and my personality. I'm sure that some people would find them very ugly, but I find them to be similar to the rest of my body and my personality-- elegant in spots, broad and unashamed in others, scarred and rounded and curved and cute and cheeky. They are my goofy, rolly-polly adorable feet, and I have to say that the thought of having them surgically altered startles the hell out of me, because...
Well, first of all, because they're FEET. People: feet look funny. I may experience blind spots to anyone's body issues but mine own, but feet? Feet I understand as being very individual and exceedingly random, because, well, LOOK AT THEM. Feet! Even the word is great fun to say. FEET FEET FEET.
I admit, I still have a lot of issues about my body, and about what other people think about it, but on this particular topic I seem to have found a place to stand. (Er. Pun.) Feet are made to carry us, to hold us up. Feet are extremely utilitarian. Sure, you can dress them up, and that's great fun, but at the end of the day these suckers are meant for locomotion, baby, and I respect that. If I hold onto that firm respect for my very utilitarian feet, and start looking at the rest of my body, I find very utilitarian awesome bits everywhere.
Check this out, for example. I know this ought to be an obvious concept, but it still blew me away: bones in different people are different sizes and shapes. I mean, maybe I knew it on one level, but I had absolutely no idea that the same bone from two different people could look THAT MUCH different.
Your hip sockets can point at a very different angle from someone else's! Your femur can have a drastically different bend at the "neck" than someone else's, which really makes a big difference in whether or not you can do the splits! Bones grow on a SPIRAL! Did you know that? I sure as hell didn't. And once I started thinking about how different just our bones can be, it occurred to me that all the other stuff on top of the bones is able to be just as different.
Back to feet for a minute: what really astonished me was just how different my thoughts on what feet "should" look like (i.e., a huge range of possibilities) to what other body parts "should" look like (a much more limited concept). It makes me think that there must have been a point back in my childhood, before puberty and all the issues that came with it, when I felt about my whole body the way I feel about my feet: vaguely aware that there's some stuff I can't do with it because it's just made that way, and that there's other stuff that it's pretty awesome at, and feeling pretty good about it on the whole. And-- the thing is, yesterday I didn't know what that would feel like at all, and now I have something to base it on. Which is pretty cool, you know?