Monday, May 11, 2009

Childhood Shoes

Shoes and underwear were the only articles of clothing that I consistently got brand new when I was growing up. I always savored a new pair of shoes, even if they were plastic sandals.

At about nine years old it became obvious that I was pigeon toed. My left foot toed in as I walked. This was embarrassing when it was called to attention—being an oddity. Often times it came up at the shoe store, since everyone was carefully observing how I walked in the potential new shoes. I'll never forget one kind salesman who gently mentioned my toeing in and said that I walked like an Indian. He told me that they could walk in their moccasins, silently and surely through the woods, partly because they tended to toe in a little. This mythical story served to connect me with those noble Native people as well as to feel better about my unique walk.

In fifth grade my parents were somehow convinced that having corrective shoes would cure my way of walking and that that was a good thing. So much for stealthily moving through forest and meadows. My feet were carefully measured. My walk was analyzed. And then I received the ugliest pair of clunky, burgundy-colored, out-of-style shoes to wear on my dear little feet.
How I hated those shoes and yet my parents had used plenty of their hard-earned money to “help” me in this way. So I wore them.

They really didn't help my toeing in at all. Over the years, without focusing on it, my gait has evened out some through bodywork. I hope that children are not shamed and weighed down with useless corrective shoes any longer.

--by Terra Rafael

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