My Chinese ancestors who consider dainty feet as a symbol of beauty bind the feet of very young girls to achieve a small feet in the shape of a lotus. When I was growing up, foot binding is no longer practiced ( I am just 1/16 Chinese) but my feet’s growth is as stunted forever as if it has an ancestral memory of its own.
My pair of feet then has become a source of pride and agony. Sometimes, I get to be noticed by both men and women with foot-fetishes, because of my extra ordinarily small feet. When it comes to dressing up and finding the right shoes to match the dress, the agony begins. So I am the girl with a pair of shoes that don’t match the dress.
To solve my problem of looking for my right shoe-size I buy from the children’s section which usually amuses the shoppers and salesclerks. For shoes and sandals, I scour the town with a pair of corks to slide into the smallest pair available. The corks are important because not only are my feet short, at size four (US) and 2 (UK), they are also slender. In my early days in high school, I stuff my shoes with rounds of toilet papers but they usually peep out of my shoes. I was still doing this in college and even when I was working and which is often times a source of embarrassment because most often the tissue sticks out and fell off the ground. So I settled for some expensive corks that I can now afford. But corks are not enough because when used for a long period of time also shrinks.
Today, my one important consideration in buying shoes is that it has to have a ribbon or a string around which to tie around my ankles so that when I need to run they don’t slip off. When I’m lucky, I get to buy shoes my size even at moments unplanned. Today I have a pair that I have kept for 8 years (see picture above) and the youngest of my collection of five pairs is a two-year old black pumps.