I lit a memorial candle for the $20 shoe section of Target
Perfect shoes, the holy grail, same thing.
On Thursday night, I planned to go out after work, but then I didn’t. Surprisingly, my usual armor of excuses didn’t even come into play. I had a frustrating day at work, but I didn’t want to go home and wallow in it #growth. It wasn’t too cold, and I wasn’t feeling anti-social. The long and short of it is that I couldn’t walk to meet up with my friends.
Not didn’t want to, couldn’t.
Why? I am 31 years old, and I have bunions. That’s right, sweet reader, bunions aren’t just for old people anymore, and on Thursday evening my potentially amazing new shoes made me miserable.
I don’t know that I can truly explain the deep-rooted frustration that takes hold of me because I can’t just put on a pair of shoes and go, and maybe that it isn’t really the point right now. The point is in the last few months, and specifically this last week, I’ve been doing something about it. You may be wondering why it took me so long…
While I was in college, living with my aunt and uncle, their grandkids would come over and hang out sometimes. At the time of this particular story, they were probably 12 years old and younger. (OLD, oohhh I feel old. They’re all in high school now, ugh…it’s passing… okay, continuing) The grandgirls and I decided to paint our nails. I picked this bright, bubble gum, barbie doll pink. It was not my usual tone, but the weather had me feeling bright. As I hunched over to apply a second coat to my toenails, Emma, the oldest, came over.
“Whoa!” she said
“I know! It’s really pink, huh?” I replied
“No, I meant what’s wrong with your feet?”
“Do you mean this part?” I indicate the bunions in question.
“Yeah, what happened?”
Ah, the honesty of pre-teens. She was so concerned and grossed out all at once. I reassured her that nothing happened, it was just something I had, and it may look funny but it didn’t bother me in any other way. I remember how self-aware this moment made me. Not embarrassed; I just didn’t realize anyone else noticed. I’ve (thankfully) never been too self-conscious of how my feet look. My Mamaw and some of my aunts have the same problem, so I think of it as a cute family trait. We complain about how hard it is to find shoes when we gather at different holidays and bond. It’s adorable.
It would be a while after this moment before my toe trouble went beyond the aesthetic. When I moved to NYC and had to walk, like, everywhere, it was a bit of a shock to my system. I sold my car and explored a whole new level of sneakers (or “tennis shoes” holla Ohio). There was also a point in my late 20s when I realized I needed to start investing in things I wear because I wasn’t outgrowing them anymore, but that’s really a whole different blog topic.
I lit a memorial candle for the $20 shoe section of Target after my final pair of off-brand keds literally fell apart, and started an empowering shoe glow-up.
Back to present day. Last week, in the spirit of the blog and being positive, I tried on some damn shoes. With the help of my boyfriend’s sister and her generous employee discount, I ordered not one but two pairs of bunion-friendly shoes and spent the week trying them out. I spent…more than $20, which always makes me cringe, but I’m an adult now. I’ve hear we do these things.
HOW I’M TRYING
At the end of a week of trying different solutions, I’m hopeful but still searching. At some point in the future, I’m gonna need surgery, but until then, here’s what I do to be comfortable.
Knowing my size. For me, that means almost always need a wide width shoe. This challenges me. It is the shoe equivalent of needing to get a different size of pants (Rude ass pants sizes changing from brand to brand, btw, also true of shoes.) I hate needing a 10 wide shoe, but, also, who cares? They’re comfortable!
Now, embrace the size. Seriously. Some studies say that bunions and other foot issues are caused by wearing too small of a shoe size for a prolonged period of time. I’m fairly convinced my issues are hereditary just based on how many of my family members have the same lil bunions, but just in case…
Don’t just look at shoes. When you try shoes on, do your usual parade in front of a mirror to see how they look. Now close our eyes. Take a sec to know your body and feel if these shoes fit. Have a Marie in Sound of Music moment. If you are honest, you can tell if they are going to betray you later pretty quickly.
Be strong and pay up. In larger cities, you don’t really need a car. Remember all the money you used to spend on car payments, gas, and insurance? Turn that into your shoe budget. Trust.
Accessorize! Most of the time, I can’t wear shoes “off the rack”. I get gel inserts, silicone toe separators for alignment, bunion cushions, fancy socks, and good old band-aids. Small tweaks make okay shoes amazing.
THURSDAY NIGHT UPDATE! The new shoes I wore on Thursday that killed my feet and kept me from meeting my friends weren’t my fault! I stressed all day, thinking about how I’ll never find shoes that will work for me and this is just who I am now. Low and behold, a lot of people are having the same issue as me with this new shoe design. The devil shoes can be returned (lesson: never settle), but it’s a relief to hear lots of people were in pain just like me. Togetherness.