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All For The Sake Of Fashion: Hammer Toe, Part 1

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Of all the millions of foot conditions a person can come across in their lifetime, I must say, hammer toe is the one that perplexes me the most. It’s not the actual condition that boggles my mind, because that is quite clear. It's the reason for hammer toe that bugs me. We all know genetics is a huge factor is every medical condition, but if you look a hammer toe in people where genetics is not related, well that is just disturbing. Think about this for a minute –- hammer toe is a medical condition that is mostly man made. And by that I mean –- we, the people, give ourselves hammer toe by crushing our feet into shoes that don’t fit which force the bone structure of our feet to deform into hammer-like toes. Do you make that same choice every morning for the sake of fashion?

After last week’s articles on bunions, I thought I had seen the worst thing a person could do to their feet -– genetics aside that is. However, after googling images of hammer toe, I am convinced we Americans go a little overboard with our need for fashionable footwear. I don’t think I will ever come across a reason to justify wearing shoes that are so tight that it literally disfigures my toes to look like a hammer. Believe me, I am all about fashion, but at what cost are people going too far?

How about a moral one for starters.

We Americans sit back in disgust and judge the Chinese for their now extinct tradition of wrapping young girls feet to pay honor and tradition to their country. In reality, the Americans who willfully choose to wrap their feet in footwear that doesn’t fit for the sake of impressing a guy or getting in with the "cool crowd" is even worse in my opinion. Do I agree with the Chinese tradition of deforming young girls feet for respect? –- absolutely not. But those girls didn’t have a choice in the matter when their feet were wrapped up at three or four years old. The women in America get to choose every day what they put on their feet and how to treat their body. By choosing to create a situation for the bones in your feet to deform is what perplexes me about hammer toe. As we all know the saying, “you are what you eat” -- how about we adjust that accordingly to, “you are what you wear.”

You may read this article and find it to be a bit harsher than my previous –- especially if you are the ill-fitting fashion footwear culprit. But after researching the effects of squashing your feet in shoes that don’t fit, I am deeply concerned for those who continue to do it. The consequences are severe, permanent and yet, preventable. I urge you to spend two minutes going through your shoe collection and disposing the ones that are sure to give you ugly feet nicknames such as hammer toe and claw foot and then make yourself the next available appointment to see a podiatrist about some treatment options.

Please come back Wednesday as we take a look at hammer toe in children.

Add a Comment2 Comments

Hi Pat, I completely agree with you. I think women go completely overboard with their need to "fit in" with society. I certainly have been a victim of it in my college days and few times in the real world, but at the end of the day when my feet hurt so bad I can't make it to the gym, I knew I had to cut my losses. My feet are worth more than any pair Loubitin's money can buy me.

January 6, 2010 - 8:10am
Expert HERWriter Guide Blogger

Hi Samara - Perhaps if there was a warning label inside shoes - like the warning label on cigarettes - it would help. The shoe manufacturers, and the multi-billion dollar fashion industry, are in many ways pushers, just like cigarette manufacturers, foisting something on the public that isn't good for their (foot) health. What do you think? Pat

January 4, 2010 - 6:11pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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