On Size 11 Shoes … Revisited

size 11 shoesMy name is Laura and I wear size 11 shoes. Sounds like an introduction at a 12-step meeting, doesn’t it? I learned to accept my shoe size about 32 years ago when I set out on a journey to find a pair of navy blue pumps to complete my post-college job-interview outfit. It took a long time to find size 11 shoes in 1983.

I have better luck and more options in 2015, but I still bear the scars from those shoe shopping excursions of days past. And as I contemplate a new search for navy blue pumps (or black for that matter), I can’t help but remember my quest from years ago.

The following excerpts are from my 1983 essay.

I want a pair of navy blue pumps. I want sophisticated, yet businesslike shoes that I can wear with my navy blue suit. And I want them in size 11.

When I first walk into a shoe store, I gaze longingly at the elegant displays of pumps and sandals. So many pretty shoes! So many tiny, pretty shoes. Then I turn to the sale racks hoping to find some size 11s on the bottom row of the last rack in the back of the store. However, the rack usually goes up only to size 10. Finally, I gather up my courage and ask the sales clerk if the store has any size 11s in stock. She starts laughing. Then she informs the other clerk of my request and he starts laughing. I quickly and quietly leave the store. They’re laughing too hard to notice. …

Women who ear size 5, 6, 7, 8, or even 9 get to choose from a variety of pretty shoes like blue pumps, suede flats, and delicate evening sandals. However, the only size 11s that shoe stores usually keep in stock are puce oxfords and lizard green Hush Puppies.

So many times size 11 shoes are ugly, orthopedic, or ugly and orthopedic. They seem to be asking, “Is the wheelchair ready, sonny? Take me to the nursing home.” A lot of them look matronly. I doubt that even big-footed matrons really want to wear shoes that look matronly. …

Sometimes I take my chances and order shoes from specialty catalogs. Sometimes, after I wait six weeks to get them, they fit. …

Big feet have so many nicknames and none of them are attractive. Whalers, gunboats, and aircraft carriers are not pretty.

Even when I had small feet they were bigger than everyone else’s. When I was 11 years old I made the jump from girls’ shoes to women’s size 8s. I got my first size 11s when I was 14.

I still want blue pumps, but things could be worse. I could wear size 12.

Laura Sternweis


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