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THE BAREFOOT CONVERT

Being from a small town, I almost felt pretentious when people would ask me where I lived. During holidays and reunions, I began noticing the faces of those I knew in years past scoff or turn in disgust when I would say, “No, not New York State, New York City.” I lived in New York during a transformative time in my life, I did not know what I wanted to do and like many postgrads, I was just learning who I was to become.

Those first few months in the “Big Apple” could be deemed as my awakening. I was taken out of my small rural fishbowl and placed into the vast ocean of models, CEOs, and the most lucrative city in the world. Besides the shock and awe I felt walking past celebrities having coffee and venturing into locations I have seen on the big screen, the one thing that I immediately took notice of was big city style.

Whether it was a black tie gala or a trip to the local deli, everyone was dressed to the nines consistently. Well-tailored suits, designer labels, and European shoes were the norm. I couldn’t help but getting caught up in the trends and began caring much more about how I looked and what I wore. Often times I would catch myself exploring men’s fashion blogs instead of the habitual sports article.

I began spending more of my paycheck in retail stores and within several months, my entire wardrobe was revamped. Like the rest of my closet, I felt my shoes needed an upgrade as well. To fit in and establish myself as a “New Yorker” it only felt right that I join the masses and exchange my casual white sneakers for a distressed, elevated-heeled boot. These boots were everywhere and it seemed that in order to be deemed a New York resident, a desert boot was an essential purchase. Paired with my selvedge jeans and long sleeve flannel, my boots were the icing on the cake I needed to truly fit in.

I began wearing my boots everywhere I went. Living in a city where the main mode of transportation is your own two feet, it was safe to say my new shoes got a lot of use. With the amount of miles and time I put into the pair, it was inevitable that they would need replaced and when the time came, I walked into the same store and bought another pair of my lovable, elevated lace ups.

Although I was inseparable from my desert boots, my eternal love for flip flops would never allow me to give up my open toes in the summer months. As summer approached, I tucked my boots away in the back of my closet and pulled out my faithful toe thongs and planned to dedicate the next three months to them. Within a few weeks, I began noticing a significant change in my left foot. I would often wear my sandals only to look down and find my left foot was moving along quite awkwardly and having a difficult time staying on the flip-flop. I noticed the front of my foot was turning outwards. I did not think much of it; however, when the sun began to fade and the sweatshirts and jackets awoke from hibernation, so did my boots. I immediately noticed a difference in my feet and the gaiety I originally felt wearing my New York staple quickly disappeared. Whenever I would take those first few steps in the boots, the outside of my left heel began hurting. Furthermore, the outwards turn of my foot seemed more exaggerated in the boots.

I typed in my symptoms online and stumbled across an article that seemed as if it was written specifically for me. According to the blog Fix Flat Feet, “Most traditional shoes have a raised heel. This places the foot in a pointed down position. Over time this can cause a loss of flexibility in the calf muscle and a restriction in ankle dorsiflexion or the bending of the ankle joint, range of motion. When ankle dorsiflexion is limited, the body compensates for that limitation by increasing motion at the turning of the heel and the front of the foot. (“How shoes cause,” 2013)

I paired this newfound knowledge with the fact that I would often walk miles at a time in these raised heels and the cause of my discomfort became apparent. Yet, as most people who tend to misconstrue priorities, I ignored my discovery. I believed it was more important to look stylish than to feel good. But as the months progressed the pain continued to increase and it became clear that the health of my foot was in dire need of attention. The importance of conforming to New York City trends needed to be reassessed, as did my choice of footwear. So with a moment of hesitation and an emotional sigh I tossed my shoes in the trash and said goodbye to my beloved desert boots that were silently betraying my feet. While the style of my shoes continued to stay a priority, I began shopping for footwear that would not only look good, but would also allow me to walk with ease and comfort. With this, my interest in barefooted, minimalist shoes was discovered.

(2013). How shoes cause flat feet and overpronation. Fix Flat Feet, Retrieved from http://fixflatfeet.com/how-shoes-cause-flat-feet-and-overpronation/

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