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And for once I was SuperMom

Friday, March 27, 2015

Not My Feet

I was bent over in yoga class.  My fingers gently prying at the tips of my toes.  As my feet spread wide, sinking into the pad of the mat, I smiled.
I've always had a love hate relationship with my feet.  They're rather wide.  I am a perfect 8 Wide.  Do you know how many shoe stores sell 'wide' sizes?  Not many.  I've shoved my feet into so many 8's and 8 1/2's, hoping they would stretch to accommodate that extra piece of flesh I have on the outside edge of my feet.  I remember my mom making so many comments when were trying on shoes. I'd only be able to jam my first three toes into adorable pair of sandals, and she would come beside, 'like little pieces of pie.'  Then, 'mine are like skis, long and narrow.'  We've never shared shoes.

Whenever I get a annoyed at my feet, and their low arched inability to withstand high heels, I remember those wide feet are great for running.  They're absolutely perfect for hiking.  Never given me much trouble for walking.  I certainly have spent many hours running, hiking, and walking.  Many more than I ever have wearing high heels.

So why did I smile the other day?
That morning I had just an article on footbinding, a last century practice in China.  The last of the women to have ever had their feet bound are dying.  As with any body modification procedure there are a host of reasons why women chose to disfigure themselves and their children.  Usually it makes them a good marriage prospect.  With both footbinding and female genital mutilation the culture believed that these practices would make women better wives.  Female genital mutilation was believed to keep women from straying and is based on men's sexual preference for a tight vagina.  Footbinding was thought to promote obedience and the ability to bear pain in childbirth.

So why did I smile at my wide feet?
Because there they are.  I don't think anyone considers wide feet a thing of beauty.  I honestly have started not to care.  I am also pretty sure that my husband never noticed the width of my feet.  I do remember a day when we were out shopping and I was trying so hard to find a pair of black pumps that would go with a black dress that I wanted to wear on a date.  His response,
'Honestly, I'm not going to be looking at your feet.'

I grew up in a time and a country (female genital mutilation is still practiced in the Middle East and Africa) where my mother never felt like she had to transform my body to make me a better marriage prospect.  (No matter how hard it was to find shoes for me)  I grew up in a time and a country where there were few match makers, in fact I was encouraged to be 'just myself' and the right person would come along aside me.  In truth that's what happened.

Of course I grew up in a culture that tries to dictate what women's bodies should look like, to be considered beautiful.  I remember in middle school reading that the 'boyish figure' was now in style.  I thought, 'Excuse you, you get to say what  kind of body type is in style, women can't change their body type, how can someone's body be out of style?!'  By middle school I was well on the way to developing the curves I now have.  There was never a chance that my body would ever be considered 'boyish.'  Largely it's fashion and marketers that try to tell us what we think we should look like.  Tall, skinny, fit, etc.  But we get to push back.  I get to say 'that's not how this works, people.'  I get to decide how I feel about my body.

I am thankful for this.  Extremely grateful for this.  So excited for my daughters because of this.  No matter how rough we think we have it, no one has ever tried to bind our feet.

Apparently there was a story about an empress who did not have bound feet.  They say she used to rule her husband with her big feet.  I love this.  This image of this regal woman padding around her palace on her big feet.
So there they are, down at the end of my body.  My wide feet.  No one has ever tried to break you.  Wrap you up.  Or make you into something you're not.

They sure would have had a hell of a time if they had.

1 comment:

Rachel Orie said...

Thanks for a dose of perspective, Lara! :) I love reading this blog!