There’s a tragedy when you hate parts of yourself but especially when you hate what those parts of yourself mean for the struggles you’ll face in life. For me, it’s my big ass beautiful feet whom I appreciate for their strength , for their capabilities, for carrying my large frame to and fro, aching ,tired and crying but also hated. I wear a size 13 in women’s sizes. It dominates my mind on a daily that I have such large feet and I can not walk into any shoe store and look for women’s shoes that have my size. It means having to order what I can and finding the options extremely limited and expensive to boot, no pun intended. It means trying to get as many shoes as i can before my limited options are sold out. There was once a store that I at once loathed and loved.
Payless was my closet secret for a long time.My shame for shopping at Payless meant that when I would go in there I would often hurriedly put my Payless shoes inside another store bag. I wouldn’t let myself be caught dead holding a Payless bag despite having them on my feet. My mindset was that Payless was for cheap bitches and growing up in Harlem I was taught in so many ways to avoid buying and looking cheap. But Payless was the only store where I could literally find a size 13 section. It was remarkable to me, a young transwoman desperately finding myself through my appearance and a big part of that was getting my girly footwear up. Mini skirts just don’t look the same with sneakers as they do with flats. I’d continue shopping covertly at Payless up to the last minute when they were going out of business. Before they were closing , I bought as many shoes as I can. The reality though cheap shoes don’t last long and in the almost 2 years that they have been out of business, I’ve found my supply dwindling. And I’ve concurrently noticed a decrease in online options particularly flats as I am an enthusiast and for shoe manufacturers to know that women and people who do wear size 13 are not only interested in Burlesque heels. It’s one of those situations of not knowing what you had till it’s gone.
I continue to do my best looking online but truly my options have dwindled and its gotten a lot more costlier for shoes. I think of that social dogma of women loving shoes and having tons of options, styles etc. And I acknowledge my and other women’s struggles to gear up their big beautiful feet. It’s bigger than shoes. It’s about who is allowed to be a woman and society’s requisites for what women look like and how much space they are allowed to take up. We’re not all 5’2-5’6 and less than 170 lbs. Many of us are quite larger but women still the same. Fashion has to do better. Society has to do better. Stop making people feel bad for being larger and having larger parts and pieces and reckon with a market that is diverse and inclusive. And also consider poverty as well. I can imagine my sisters who are not in as generous a spot in life having a hard time affording some of these pricier brands.
Maybe there can be a newer Payless one with sizes that extend past 13 for women with options that look nice and feel nice and with a better name brand. Let’s face it ,who in Capitalist America wants to buy shoes from a place marketing them as cheap? Until then, I’ll try to preserve the few I have and remember a woman is more than the adornment on her feet.