Women are known for their body image issues. This is basically a pop culture fact. It’s on every TV show…every interview with every female musician…and the ratio of minutes female comedians spend laughing at themselves in relation to the number of minutes of laughter that ridicule earns is typically about 10:1. Even when women seem to have it all together, the mere fact that we point out that we are “now comfortable in our own body” highlights the fact that at some point in life (let’s be real guys…yesterday), we hated every cell in our overly-cleansed, non-dairy, gluten free, lululemon-swaddled bodies.
Well I’m sorry to ruin it for everybody, but I’m completely fine with myself.
Except my feet. I really, really hate my feet.
Your feet are not something you notice when you’re little. My older sister loved passing down her “jelly” shoes to me, and I’ll admit it…they made me feel pretty. Those sparkly pink pieces of plastic seemed to have been made in Taiwan with the express purpose of covering my little piggies and transforming me into Cinderella.
But that was all a lie. Because those shoes were just a mask. ALL shoes are just a mask.
Some women never overcome the shoe era of their lives. And that’s okay. If I could live my whole life without knowing the harsher truths of what my ankles are attached to, and just blindly dressing them up to carry on with my day, I would. Every time I hear a song about a break-up, all I can think about are my feet. And just like the lyrics found in Cher’s heartfelt anthems (where did Cher come from? let’s just go with it), I’m about to help you confront some ugly truths.
I’ve always been a swimmer, so it naturally wasn’t long into my childhood before my feet got warts. My mom used to take pleasure in scraping away the wart goo (I could only imagine what was really down there…like my vagina, it took years before I examined the region with a hand mirror) with a little tiny knife. I have no idea where that little tiny knife came from. It seemed to be crafted by sadistic little elves, with the express purpose of tearing away the epidermis of my childhood to expose what feet really are – nothing but bone and shame.
From then on, I wore flip flops at the pool. And (obviously) at Grandma’s house.
The first year I went to summer camp was probably the hardest (i.e. I spent the whole week barefoot, walking around sans any footwear “because that’s what Jesus and Joni Mitchell would want me to do”), but eventually my feet became accustomed to the abuse they were in for. At the end of just one week, having traversed fields and creeks and dirt roads, my soles were broken hearted. Battle scarred.
If I could turn back time, guys.
*flings hair over shoulder dramatically*
I would forsake each foot – both the right and the left – throughout the rest of my childhood and well into my teen years. By the time I started my first job, I had pretty much spent my young life treating shoes the way most girls treated boyfriends: I would settle on one that could take me anywhere and make me feel pretty for four months, and then when their back was broken and the smell made others complain, I would throw them away. My style of choice was typically something flat and neutral – that is until I started my first job and one of the project assistants mocked me for forsaking the holy high heel.
That weekend I went shopping, realized I was not only smarter, but now TALLER than everyone else, and never looked back.
But I did fall down.
Now, I’m 26 and my feet look and smell the way I’m sure Hugh Hefner’s testicles look and smell. Used. Scabby. Funky. Wrinkled. Shedding.
The “situation” south of my ankles is not in any way aided by the fact that I’m a runner. I run at least 10 miles five or six times a week, and my feet are reaping none of the benefits of this. I read an article last year that said runners are starting to opt for surgery to remove their toe nails – simply because losing a nail to downhill running can be pretty un-sexy (and, more importantly, slow you down…duh). I might hate my feet, but I don’t think I’m there yet…if only because ripping all the nails off would cause the top of my feet to closely resemble both the other side of my foot and (incidentally) Steve Buscemi’s face. Just a mess of pink and white and blue in all the wrong places, with the odd hair sticking out here and there.
I can only assume that this life-long struggle will only get worse. Cher lied. There is no life for my feet after the way that I’ve treated them. But there are little victories. Like actually taking care of these ol’ hooves every once in a while. I’ve tried pedicures, but the last time I got one the lady scraped away the skin for a good 45 minutes with a fancy metal file thing before calling for her assistant to bring her another so she could start on the other foot. And I just don’t have that kind of time.
Lately a bit of pleasure (read: relief) can be found in soaking my toes in hot bathtub water. Unfortunately I’m several months into a relationship right now, and we’ve hit that point where we’ll spend the whole weekend together. These times are great for the heart, but momma needs a good sole-soaking every once in a while, y’know?
Following a long weekend of love and bonding, I couldn’t wait to melt away the calluses tonight when my boyfriend called me up. “What are you up to?” he queried.
Why hide, you guys? I know what I am. I know what my feet are. There comes a time when you just have to let go of those body image issues. How much is all that comedy really benefiting society, anyway?
“I’m just about to scrub the calluses off my feet in the tub,” I answered honestly.
His laughter was akin to that of a guffaw. The way I always imagined Gilbert Gottfried sounds at the moment of sexual fulfillment (again, you’re welcome).
“I love that I see you as this young, beautiful woman…and in reality you’re an 80 year-old Polish immigrant.”
Ladies, if you want to know if he loves you so, it’s in his diss (that’s where it is, oh yeah).