I almost certainly lose femme points for hating shoe shopping, but that's okay. I don't have particularly femme feet. Don't get me wrong - I don't hate shoes on principal, for all that I'm prone to barefootedness at home. I could comment on how the footwear expectations of women are a part of the patriarchy, how high heels damage your legs and back, or even the link between pointy-toed shoes and marmoset habitat destruction (granted, I made that one up). However, none of these things really play into my deep and abiding loathing for shoe shopping. None of this has made me cry in a shoe store. It's really about one, simple, horrible reality.
I can't find dress shoes that fit my feet.
I work a professional job. Right or wrong, I am seen as more competent and professional when I wear dress shoes, so that's what I wear to work. At least, that's what I was wearing until my last pair died a little while ago. Mumblemumble years ago when I last bought dress shoes, I wore 8.5WW. W stands for wide, of course. WW means even wider than a wide shoe.
After some research, I found there are no shoe shops in the Raleigh that can even order WW shoes. Like any 21st century woman, I ordered shoes two pairs of shoes online. I even followed the website's instructions for measuring my feet to confirm my shoe size. I eagerly opened the first pair when they arrived, and tried them on.
Actually, that's a lie. I was eager, but I couldn't even get my foot all the way into the shoe. Even with fresh, smooth hose on, I could get my toes in, but not my instep. I checked the shoes - they're marked 8.5WW. When the second pair arrived, I had the same experience. Neither website (I ordered one pair from each) carries shoes any wider than WW.
I have always had a hard time finding shoes, even when I was a kid, but I would eventually find something. Now my feet just aren't a part of the dress shoe universe - they're too wide.
This isn't a tragedy. I still have options. Most likely I'll try a 9WW and see if I can make that work with some padding behind the heel and/or in the toe. The logistics are totally workable. It's the sense that my body is wrong that makes this so depressing.
Logically, I know this isn't a problem with my feet. My feet are awesome - they walk, dance, run, jump, feel the ground, and even pick things up from time to time. My feet help me move through water and on the ground, and push down the blankets when the nights get warm. Sometimes I even hold a book open with my feet so I can read while I do something else with my hands. The only problem is the lack of availability of wide enough shoes - which is a problem I can solve.
The problem of feeling my body, via my feet, is somehow wrong - I've solved that by writing this blog post :)