My cousin’s birthday party was yesterday. Everyone attending had their pink heels displayed in correlation to the theme. I didn’t. They had asked me if I would like to order with them a week prior to the event. I knew there was no point. I am the friend with big feet, a size 12. So big, no store bothers carrying. Large feet have been universally stigmatized. Not only is a woman with large feet considered sexually unattractive but is considered inferior to other women. In ancient China, women would be forced to wear iron shoes, regardless of their size (Schipper, 2017). Their feet were bound from toe to heel. In many other cultures similar traditions were made. “Never marry a woman with bigger feet than your own” was a common phrase in Malawi and Mozambique (Schipper, 2017).
The average shoe size for Canadian women is 6.5 (Admin, 2015). Although the Western world is working hard to break the stigma against women's body types, we still have a long way to go. Having inclusive sizes is one. Creating an environment where all types of women can feel feminine and enjoy everyday hobbies like shopping, attending parties and feel comfortable, beautiful and included. Below is a list of difficulties that come alongside shopping with large feet.
Shoe shopping for larger feet has limited options. Depending on the occasion, a specific type of style or shoe is preferred or even required. Most shoe stores for women do not go past size ten. Finding a shoe that fits is a blessing, let alone finding a specific style. Hence, most women will settle for the shoe that is available, regardless if it fits their preference or not. This is not fair for the woman. Fashion is often used to express oneself, being stripped of this can impact one's self esteem severely. Everyone deserves to be able to express themselves regardless of size. Expression through fashion leads to feeling beautiful in one's own body, which leads to increased confidence and overall happiness.
Squeezing into the Wrong size
The sheer disappointment and embarrassment of not being able to find a size due to being larger than average causes a lot of women to force themselves to wear smaller sizes. This leads to an elevated health risk while wearing shoes that do not fit. Bunions, corns, and other foot deformities are amongst those raised risks when wearing the wrong size (OrthoInfo, 2012). That's why it is imperative for these large fashion conglomerates to be accommodating to women of all shapes in sizes. It is more than fashion, it is also about health and lifestyle.
Thinking back to the time I could not fit into a particular theme of the party due to my size, I recall the feeling of isolation. The lack of sizes within shoes is a reminder for the very little representation there is for women. This portrayal and stigma leaves women feeling alone and alienated. Thoughts that may echo one's mind include: “why am I different?”, “why do I have to be so big?”, “I wish I was like everyone else”. These questions are the result of a society that has failed to be inclusive. It is important to market all sizes to ensure that everyone is included and can enjoy beautiful life moments while wearing what they desire.
Companies like Trèsolz are actively trying to combat the stigmas associated with the footwear industry as a whole. Offering sizes that fit all, this inclusiveness is beneficial for women as this can prevent the aforementioned health risks and self-doubt experienced by many women.
Judy Stewart, Trèsolz’s founder, personally relates to the struggles that come along with not fitting in. The mission of Trèsolz’ is “to provide women with large feet a variety of footwear options marked by style – no compromise.” The variety of sizes ranges from 9.5 to 16. Having businesses that cater to all women is the solution to this predicament developed by society. Trèsolz ensures that women not only fit into their shoes comfortably but also love the style. To give women the freedom to wear what makes them feel like themselves is Trèsolz’s job. “ALL women deserve choice, style and affordability in their shoe game – without compromise” – Judy Stewart.