Your Shoes are Killing Me

 

One of the definitive moments of the feature film, “Sex and the City,” shows protagonist Carrie Bradshaw entering the large closet of her would-be new apartment. As the lights flicker on, she takes in the size of it (really, it’s ginormous) and imagines all of the designer shoes she will fill it with.

I cringe whenever I watch that scene, as much as I love that film (can you say, “guilty pleasure”?).

Because I would never find enough “sexy” shoes to fill that closet with, even if I could afford them all.

Because the shoe industry has neglected to make shoes for women like me. Women with small feet. Women with spina bifida

For me, an assertive invitation of “Let’s go shoe shopping” from Mami evokes feelings of being a lamb dragged off to the slaughterhouse.

I’ve been that girl— the one who has broken down in the size 5 aisle of Payless, or many a shoe store. Because they don’t carry anything smaller for me

Indeed, some of my cutest “girly” shoes are in children’s sizes. And yes, they’re flats

I can’t wear heels unless they are even. None of those stiletto-style heels or wedges— even the shortest heels will have me teetering off-balance within seconds of standing.

 

Shoes

One of the few pairs of shoes in my closet that have short heels. I wore this outfit to a vintage-themed event. When I posted this as my profile pic a while back, I received compliments on my cute pose. Little does anyone probably realize I am grasping at the tree to keep from stumbling.

 

As I visit shopping malls and see signs indicating accessible entrances and restrooms, and ramps conveniently placed across from accessible parking areas, I am reminded of how far we’ve come as a society that is striving to welcome people with spina bifida and other disorders.

As I scour the ladies’ footwear section of any major department store, I am cruelly reminded of how far we still need to go. 

Indeed, I think my gender makes things worse for me as a shoe consumer. Men can get away with wearing more comfortable shoes, and even dress shoes don’t have heels. In fact, they could probably get away with wearing the same pair of shoes for a week straight, and no one would be the wiser.

The entire culture of being a woman in the 21st century is centered around footwear. “I don’t know if I have shoes that will match this outfit!” “Let’s go shoe shopping this weekend.” “Oh, my shoes are killing me, and I didn’t bring rescue shoes.” 

Guess what? Your “rescue shoes” are what I would wear to a social function. For me, there is no such thing as rescue shoes, because I cannot wear the shoes you need so badly to be rescued from. 

I can recall so many occasions on which I’ve attended parties with girlfriends. Near the end of the night, they are complaining about their shoes. “God, my shoes are KILLING me, Laurita! You are so lucky you get to use that wheelchair. Can I borrow it?”

No, you may not borrow my chair, because it is not a one-time deal. With this wheelchair, (which I use often for events, especially when I have to resort to wearing uncomfortable boots to match an outfit) comes a lifetime of regret. A lifetime of envy, resentment, and anger, because I cannot wear the shoes that are killing you right now. Because I wasn’t granted the luxury of being able to wear strappy heels that I will remove in less than two hours to dance barefoot on the dance floor after my feet have blistered.

Because as much as I hate to admit it, especially to myself, I LOVE the shoes that every woman loves— the strappy, shiny heels that you seem to glide effortlessly in, while I stumble clumsily in my flat boots.

Because Fate long ago decided that I do not get to live the Carrie Bradshaw fantasy for one lousy night, because that’s life.

Oh, your shoes are killing you? Then by all means, be my guest and remove them. You know what? They’re killing me, too. 

© 2015, Laurita. All rights reserved.

14 thoughts on “Your Shoes are Killing Me

  1. I can relate on the opposite side of things. I have huge feet that are uneven due to healing wrong from a car accident in my teens. Add MS to the equation, and I can’t even find cute shoes in my large size much less be able to balance in them with the MS. But there are some pretty cute flats out there for us. Hugs and love to you!

    • Hugs and love to you, too, Michelle! I’ve got nothing but love and respect for you.

      I am sure you can relate, even on the other side of the spectrum. I once entered a shoe store with a dear blogger friend of mine who was visiting. We couldn’t find ANYTHING for either of us. Her feet were too big and mine were too small. It was quite hilarious, actually, to see the store clerk all nonplussed and flustered, trying to find something that would fit either of us. 😉

      But yeah…all too often it just breaks my heart.

      Love you!!

      Laurita

  2. Wow, you hit the nail on the head! I would love to find some shoes that are not so little girl looking, even flats. Even little girls shoes often have heels!

    • Thank you, Nancy, for your solidarity! Yes, it used to be that little girls’ shoes were mostly flat, except maybe some boots.

      Now little girls are wearing adult-like shoes! It’s crazy.

      Laurita

  3. I SOOOOOOO understand this!!! Years ago I stopped having someone shoe shop with me because I usually break down and have to leave… I mainly wear sneakers and in Summer I FINALLY found a pair of slip on sandals from Croc that work for me…I have 2 different sized feet so that makes shopping even better for me…. I’m so glad to not be alone in this!! I’d give ANYTHING to be able to wear flip flops but my right foot makes in hard and I fall or stumble enough that I choose not to draw that attention… I walk funny enough… Glad I found your blog will be reading it for sure… ;0)

    • Thank you so much for sharing your experience with me, Amy! I truly appreciate it.

      Yeah, I can’t wear sandals because they slip right off. And even my bedroom slippers, which are a good fit for me, are beginning to slip off all the time as I’ve worn them so often and they get wider.

      *Sigh*

      Thank you so much for reading! Glad you reached out.

      Laurita :)

  4. I love having Spina bifida, but I do hate that my brace (AFO) creates an issue when shoe shopping. Shoes don’t fit or they just look weird! I can’t wear slip on shoes because my brace can’t go in the top, straps are also a no. Someone with SB should start a shoe line!!

  5. Thank you for this post! I am a mom to a little girl with an NTD, and felt so incredibly shallow when I once asked her doctor/PT, etc. whether she’d be able to wear cute shoes. They kind of looked at me like, “This is what you’re worried about?!?!” Best of luck to you on your cute shoe quest…I think you look great!

  6. The first thing I thought was: we need to design some shoes! If there’s a problem, let’s fix it!

    I loved your post and always love hearing your heart while reading your words. Thanks for educating us, showing us a different perspective and continuing to walk in your purpose.

    oxoxox

  7. Having lived with Spina Bifida, Myelomeningocele for 47 years, also being female, I understand the struggle that adults with smaller feet have in finding adult-styled shoes to fit, especially when entering the workforce. However, keeping priorities in perspective, realizing while others without disabilities may be able to “just do” things we can not, perhaps, we can focus more on our “haves” rather than our “have nots.” Many with SB can’t walk, stand or are completely paralyzed. Many other disabling factors also affect anyone with varied disabilities more so than our own. We need to be thankful rather than enviously comparing ourselves to others. While you may wish to be in someone else’s shoes, there is likely someone among you who wishes that they were in yours. Now, you could, if you’re happiness is in finding the right shoes, start a design company to fill that market because others may want to buy your shoes!

    • Hi Lori Ann,

      I completely understand your perspective of gratitude. Believe me– most days I’m quite content living with SB, and in fact, feel proud to serve as an advocate for our community. And I certainly don’t take ANY of my abilities for granted! Like anyone else, I am able to do things not everyone can, and I am thankful for that.

      However, I AM human, as I’m sure you are, too, and I don’t find anything wrong with expressing my very personal feelings on the subject– feelings I have attempted for years to move past but haven’t been able to. I’m just like everyone else– with my own concerns, fears, and yes, emotional imperfections.

      I’m sure even you have had moments when you’ve envied something you can’t have or can’t do. Please, if you ever manage to meet someone who hasn’t felt a twinge of jealousy in their lives, point me in their direction. 😉

      And believe me– I’m not resting on my laurels waiting for a miracle to happen. I am currently working on a plan of action to address this issue within the shoe industry. I hope to be able to update you all on this if/when I have a viable solution.

      Also, the whole issue of walking vs. not walking is a very sensitive one for me, and one I’ve often felt has made it difficult at times to relate to others in the SB community. Yes, I often walk unassisted, and use a wheelchair for long distances. But my walking does not mean I have “less spina bifida.” I still deal with other issues– bladder, bowel, shunt– not to mention the psychosocial aspects of living with spina bifida.

      Please do not make the mistake so many outside the SB community often make– to judge the impact spina bifida has on my life simply by what you see. As I hoped to share in this very personal post, there are far more scars inside me than could ever be outside.

      Thank you,

      Laurita

  8. Loved this read! I’m the mom of a 29 year old with SB. Finding cute, but not cutsey shoes is the worst. She loves to wear sandals, but her toes just aren’t long enough. There ends up being an inch of shoe left at the toe area. Ugh! Also, I loved your comment about how SB is not different just because you’re walking vs. sitting. Sarah walks, due to some great surgeries when she was little, but like you, there are scars that run deep. Not just on her head, back, stomach and feet, but in her heart. I’m so proud of the woman she is becomming, but the road has been fraught with pain, both physical and emotional. You girls are so inspirational to me and too countless others, I’m sure. You have such a beautiful command of the English langauge, it was truly a joy to read your blog. Best wishes to you.

  9. My 8 yr old daughter has SB and a repaired club foot. One of her legs and foot is not only smaller in relative size, there is a ever growing leg length discrepancy, as well. She has to have at least a 2″ wedge added to that one side, of course, it makes her even more off balance and makes the weaker leg have to work even harder because the shoe is so heavy…and forget cute shoes…oh no, with an AFO and the need for the special shoe, well, we’re just finding it so hard for her. There are many tears about the unfairness of it all…and, it is very unfair. Then she wipes her tears and totters off in her clunky shoes that she really does love to be the most awesome girl I know….need to see if we can get another “dressier” pair of shoes made up for her to have options…a girl needs her options!

  10. Hi Laurita,

    As the parent of an adult child with significant disabilities, I have always tried to find shoes that fit in with the rest of the young women in her age group. I found a website and have ordered a couple pairs of fancier shoes for her. Have you heard of Pretty Small Shoes? http://www.pretty-small-shoes.com
    It’s a company in the UK that only sells online but ships worldwide. You can find some pretty good deals if you watch the website. My daughter’s feet are size 2 so we know your pain!

    Thanks for the post,
    Kathy

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