My Feet Hurt

Yes they do. Every day. In almost every way. This, as much as used-up eggs and hot flashes, seems to be a fact of my midlife.

Once, in my glory days, I could wear any number of cute little shoes with impunity. They were, in fact, the balm to an ego smashed by a body that was somewhat larger than the clothes that had always fit it. If I didn’t like the way said body looked in the dressing room mirror, well, the shoe department mirror is very short and only reflects one’s lower legs. And that part of my body is still good, and not, so I thought, growing or changing or letting me down.

I was, I confess it here, a shoe snob. Wear crappy clothes, dress straight out of Target, but if your shoes are good (i.e., not straight out of Target), you can get away with almost anything. Wear a fantastic outfit, something from Saks or BCBG and if your shoes are not equal in style and provenance, then you’ve blown the chance to look fantastic. I still stand by that basic principle of fashion.

I wasn’t one of those willing to endure pain for those cute shoes. I was just one of those for whom most shoes in size 8.5 or 9 fit. While I sympathized with those who had Problem Feet and had to wear Special Shoes, I couldn’t imagine that would ever happen to me. Oh, the folly of youth…

Here’s what happens when your feet go bad on you. They get wider. Who knew that that’s what they meant by middle-aged spread. They get larger. Or something or other has caused every pair of shoes in my huge collection to NOT FIT. Like some Mafia princess, I kept my shoes stacked in plastic boxes with identifying labels. Now they’re scattered around my closet where I’ve flung them in disgust at their NOT FITTING.

Here’s another thing that happens in midlife: the balls of your feet get all thin and meager. This means that you’re walking on foot bone bereft of padding. This is not great for going barefoot, especially if your floors are, like mine, ceramic tile. It’s not great for wearing those really high high heels that are in fashion now, because they throw all of your weight onto the balls of your feet. Dermatologists have a cure for this. They shoot Restylane into the bottom of your foot, giving you a little cushion of filler to walk around on. For a couple of months. Because Restylane doesn’t last that long, you know, so you have to schedule regular fill-ups, at about $700 a pop.

And then there’s the vamp situation. I don’t know what has happened to that part of my foot that starts at my ankles and ends at my toes, but it has become VERY FINICKY about what is on it. I feel like Goldilocks trying to find a pair of shoes in the morning that will last the day. I can’t lace up my running shoes properly, because if I do I feel as if my feet are in a vise. Even now sitting here wearing socks and Crocs, I’m hyperaware of my feet. This can’t be right.

I used to mock old people who wore those hideous clunkers known as Earth Shoes. But you know, they may have the last laugh. Tonight I went out for drinks and dinner with a friend. I was more than pleased to see that it was raining, pouring in fact. The weather meant that I could, without shame, wear my Uggs, and my feet were, at least for tonight, quite happy.

  • Katie

    I am getting a little older, but I’ll be damned if I give up my heels…lol.. But seriously, I can’t afford to with my height :) I don’t know if this is a good approach for everyone, but I bought these little rollable ballet flats that roll up into a really small package and just keep them in my purse all the time to switch into when my feet start hurting from heels. I think they sell them everywhere now, but I bought them from Seriously, not giving up heels unless my feet actually fall off :)

    • byjane

      I like this idea. One could keep the little rollable ballet flats in the same compartment as one keeps the little foldable minipads. Of course, one would have to be careful not to drink too much and confuse the two.

  • Ellen Besso

    Hi Jane: You’re so funny! But I’m with you about the feet…and other parts hurting. I was amazed that the feet lose fat when I read about it a year or so ago. Usually it’s hair loss but fat gain! I just bought a pair of beautiful high leather boots, hugely on sale. They’re not really heels (my daughter advised me against heels for walking) – they’re rubber soled aerosoles with a 1-1/2 inch wedge heel for pete’s sake! But when I walked down to lower Gibsons to meet my friend for coffe (15 min each way), both my knees hurt when I returned!

    Warm wishes
    Ellen Besso

    • byjane

      @Ellen Besso,
      I’ve bought Aerosoles for years. Good choice!

  • Darryle

    I can still fit in my shoes only I don’t bother. A night out when I need to wear heels is so RARE that I can still handle it—-and it’s a rare day when I don’t wear UGGS or clogs or sneakers. Only I started at the other end—with elastic waists and stretch jeans—and worked my way down.

    • byjane

      Or flipflops…you live in a beachy town!

  • Duchess

    Brothel creepers? really?

  • Nancy Mehegan

    I cannot believe I ever wore Spike heels but I did!
    Now — I would topple over.
    Baby boomer news & views
    Vaboomer blog

    • byjane

      @Nancy Mehegan,
      I have a pair of spindly high ones that make my legs look great. I can’t stand up in them, but walking–now that’s more of a problem.

  • Duchess

    Oh dear, oh dear. I’ve been wearing crepe bottom shoes and hush puppies since I was 20! I adored Earth Shoes. My favourite ever was a flat thing made by Bass (Bass Tacks).

    I have ridiculously high arches (I used to explain that roaches could run right under my feet when I was standing up). When I wear high heels the balls of my feet have always taken all the weight.

    Every now and again I wear what I used to call Grown Up Shoes and I guess I should now call Young Person Shoes, but when they hurt badly enough I am willing to risk the city streets barefoot rather than carrying on.

    I used to have size 6 feet… Now I always need a 7 or 7.5. I blame it on gravity. But believe me, small crepe soles and hush puppies are just as ignominious as the big ones.

    Now I have downsized (if not in feet at least in square feet) to my boat, my current total shoe complement is: 1 pair keens snow boots, 1 pair north face hiking boots, 2 pairs crocs, 1 pair birkenstock sandals and 1 pair the most glorious, dainty, petite, red patent leather pumps.

    Spot the odd one out. But when I tried them on in the shoe store last summer total strangers stopped and told me to buy them.

    Besides, like most women, I have a thing about red shoes. Hmmm. I am beginning to think I should write a post about this…

    • byjane

      See, that’s why we are friends–it’s those red shoes! btw, when I lived in England, hush puppies were called brothel creepers…

  • Miss Fanny

    I can identify with your foot/shoe woes. I am a physician recruiter and tour candidates at several hospitals (one of the hospitals is 5.5 acres!). I continue to wear my high heels but by the end of the day can barely walk. Broke down and bought some butt-ugly nurse clogs the other day and they are sooo comfortable. Still have not gathered the courage to wear them publicly but as the pain increases my motivation rises. Fashion over comfort is a tough one!

    • byjane

      @Miss Fanny,
      Perhaps you could sling a stethoscope around your neck to accessorize your nurse clogs!

      • Fanning Flashes

        @byjane, great suggestion…but then I might actual have to render medical assistance and that would really be bad!

    • Banker Nonni

      @Miss Fanny, I got the shiny red clogs. I don’t care anymore, common sense and red comfy shoes are the way to go and still let the shoe snob out. And I was one of those with smaller feet. Even at size 8 it is hard to find shoes that fit my feet and personality. banker nonni

      • byjane

        @Banker Nonni,
        You’re wearing the Crocs red clogs? I’ve got red Crocs ballet slippers. They are very un-Croc-like.

  • msmeta

    Welcome to my life. I had size 9 feet when I was in ninth grade, and proper young ladies at that time simply didn’t have big feet. I was reduced to wearing Hush Puppies. (Horrors!) I’ve crammed my gunboats into too-small shoes for so many years that my toes are literally square, a fact that just delights my sons. My feet finally stopped growing at a size 11, but it’s only been in recent years that I’ve been able to regularly find shoes that fit. My long-time foot-abuse is coming back at me now, big time. We’ll just go limping off into the sunset together! (Tip that works for me: Lace your runners so that you can slip them on without undoing the laces. Keeps my arches happy.)

    • byjane

      Thank you for feeling my pain, etc. etc. Your story about high school reminds me that my size 8.5 were HUGE in high school. All the “normal” girls wore size 6s or, at most, 7s. Shoe stores, which were a favorite place to hang out on Saturday afternoon, didn’t carry many 8.5s, so I had a hard time finding any. Now the 8.5s/9s are gone because EVERYONE wears that size.

  • laura aka delicate flower

    Oh, I love this post. I am an absolute shoe snob and would die if my shoes stopped fitting!
    I also am experiencing the thinner, bonier feeling to the pad of my’s just beginning to be uncomfortable. But, I”m not sure I’d go for an injection? $700 could buy a couple of pairs of shoes.
    My hope is that as the majority of us age that companies like Mephisto and other high end Orthopedic types will continue to produce great looking shoes with crepe bottoms and secure sides….

    • byjane

      @laura aka delicate flower,
      Yes, but then we’ll be walking around in crepe-bottomed shoes. And you know what’s next–elastic waist pants!

      • laura aka delicate flower

        9B here… Oh my the elastic waist pants.. though I must admit that a little ‘spandex’ makes the jeans feel oh so much better!

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