by guest blogger Renee James, humorist and blogger
A few years ago, I wrote a column addressing what I thought was the nadir of women’s self-esteem in the early 21st century. The topic was “hand-plumping,” and it’s exactly what it sounds like: a procedure that injects fat into your hands. It delivers a more youthful-looking appearance to hands that have grasped, carried, held, and caressed for decades, hiding veins and other telltale signs of…well…life.
Then I discovered that hands aren’t the only appendages women despise. We hate our feet, too. Before you get the wrong idea, this isn’t about pedicures, including the perfect shade of polish as you get ready to slip your feet into sandals.
No, I’m talking surgery. Procedures called “toe tucks” and “foot facelifts” that fall within a category some people call “Cinderella surgery.” I don’t have the will to explain them in detail, but a toe tuck shortens and “slims” a baby toe so that wearing high heels can be more comfortable. A “foot facelift” somehow narrows your whole foot. Another procedure shortens the length of toes, most often toe number two, so your feet will look more “attractive” in your sandals.
The problem—as if the fact that some women covet these procedures isn’t enough—is that unlike some cosmetic surgeries, they are entirely without merit. People who care for the health of our feet are horrified. The American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society (AOFAS) states, “Cosmetic foot surgery should not be considered in any circumstances, and the Society does not condone its practice.” Score one for sanity.
I was still shaking my head over the sad state of women’s foot-despair when I came across an article that felt relevant. New Scientist combined elements from photographs of eight women with “unusually large” feet to create a composite facial image and then did the same thing using eight photos of women with “smaller” feet. They revealed that—surprise!—men are more attracted to women with small feet.
I know, right? Will this ever end? The answer is no; no, it won’t. Not only did men prefer the image made up of the faces of the women with smaller feet, but the competition wasn’t even a close: They chose the smaller-feet composite face three-and-a-half times more often than the other face, and were 10 times as likely to label the image as “more feminine.”
Fun fact: When conducting the same experiment with women—creating composites of men for women to judge—the results weren’t quite as clear. Women seemed to like men with large wrists, whom they viewed as better sex partners than life partners. Men with smaller wrists were deemed better long-term partners. Really, ladies? Wrists? I can’t even…
AOFAS warnings notwithstanding, this is exactly the kind of research that will have some women running—while they still can—to their podiatrists. They’ll consult on how to make their feet thinner or get their toes reshaped so they can be even more “attractive.” Who cares about the 26 bones and 33 joints in their feet, not to mention the 100-plus muscles, tendons, and ligaments? The last thing any woman needs is competition from another woman wearing size-5 Manalos on her adorably tiny feet.
I may need a scorecard to keep this straight. Legs: long, lean, and featuring a perfect “thigh gap.” Abs: stretchmark free, practically concave, and rock hard. Breasts: larger is better than smaller; higher is better than lower. Hands: plumped and vein free. Butt: full, round, and defined (but not fat.) Nose—and now feet: smaller and/or slimmer. Nails: manicured and polished. Hair: shiny and frizz free. Eyebrows: sexy. (Nope. I have no idea. I just keep reading about “sexy” eyebrows.) Face: smooth and radiant, and with a cute little dimple or two added if you can afford it. Teeth: super white. Got it.
Coming soon: the shoulder, elbow, wrist, knee, and ankle “lift.” Does that about cover it?
But there is good news in the midst of this quest for perfection. According to a Gallup poll, 66 percent of Americans age 65 or older “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that they always feel good about their physical appearance. That’s fantastic. Just 10 years to go.
Renee A. James works at Rodale Inc. and also wrote an award-winning op-ed column for The Morning Call, the Allentown, PA, newspaper, for almost 10 years. Her essays were included in the humor anthology, 101 Damnations: A Humorists’ Tour of Personal Hells (Thomas Dunne Books, 2002), and are also found online at Jewish World Review and The Daily Caller. She invites you to Like her Facebook page, where she celebrates—and broods about—life on a regular basis, mostly as a voice in the crowd that shouts, “Really? You’re kidding me, right?” (or wants to, anyway), and she welcomes your suggestions, comments, and feedback to the mix.