What Is It About Women and Their Feet?

pedicure, high heels, feet

“I refuse to go! No one touches my feet!”

That was my mom’s reaction when I stopped in front of a beautiful spa to give the female members in my East Coast family a treat. I had just spent seven hours in the car with my daughter and granddaughter to reach Delaware for some “Nanny” time.

My mom is the most put-together 91-year-old you’ll ever meet. She wears light blue and pink pastel sweaters to show off her blue eyes and snow white hair. She shows off her lithe figure in Gap Kids jeans. Her earrings always match her necklace, which matches the color sweater she’s selected for the day.

She wears Converse sneakers to look cool – and to hide her feet.

What is it about us women and our feet?

My 7-year-old granddaughter runs around the backyard shoeless even in November, enjoying the feel of the bare earth on her sweet little toes.high heels. women and feet

But by the time we’re 17, we wear shoes that squish our feet into narrow tubes and raise our heels to a height no foot, no matter how sexy, should ever aspire to.

Men know better. They wear flats from the age of 1 to 101.

But women? Like Cinderella’s stepsisters, we push, cajole, squeeze our naturally wide/plump/happy/fleshy feet into leather devices of torture.

And then we try to walk in them.

I’ll never forget when my 15-going-on-25-year-old niece once tried to explain to her dad why women walked in wounded pain every day. “It’s for the sex,” she said to my wide-eyed brother-in-law. “High heels raise the female rear end, which entices the male.”

Enticing or not, by the age of 40, we women do everything we can to hide our bunions, blisters and other unnatural feet disasters caused by the wrong (sexy?) shoe.

Bunions and hammer-toes grow with age, so by the time we’re, well, of a certain age, women’s feet can look rather monstrous. Thus, we hide them.

In flat shoes!

pedicureA pedicure can soothe the sores, massage the ankles, assuage the canker in our cantankerous toes. Thus, I figured a visit to a savory spa with our four-female-generation posse on this gloomy November weekend would be a perfect proposition.

Until my mom put both feet on the ground in brake position and refused to move.

Thankfully, my little granddaughter looked up at her great-grandmother and said as sweet as sugar, “Please, Nanny?”

With a pout and a fear that the staff would gasp in horror once she took her shoes off , my mom put one foot in front of the other and entered the building. Once her feet settled into the warm bubbly tub of scented water, her pout turned to a huge sigh of comfort.

The pedicure became a feat of feet-appreciation.

pedicure, women and feet

             A 4-generation pedicure.

It only took 91 years to get there.






Images thanks to Google (except for the family photo – that’s thanks to Nanny).

114 thoughts on “What Is It About Women and Their Feet?

  1. that’s great that it finally happened. i once thought i broke my toe at home, and insisted that i give myself a mini pedicure before letting my daughter take me to the hospital )

  2. Like your mother, I’ve never had a pedicure. My feet are extremely ticklish and the thought of a stranger touching them…well, it’s like fingernails on a chalkboard. 🙂 I loved your photos on FB, Pam! It looked like a great day!

    • I entertain the customers at the nail salon with my attempts to withstand my foot scrubbing. My nail salonist who has been doing my feet for many years is used to it. She has to struggle to hold on to my foot due to my ticklishness but she manages. I try really hard to hold it still. But this does not help your aversion to pedicures does it?😬

  3. One of life’s little pleasures…,yay Sophie for talking your Mom into going ❤️ I had never gotten a salon pedicure until I was 50 and told the girls I worked with that I was going to my cousin’s wedding in VT that hot summer weekend. They promptly threw me in the car at lunch and took me into downtown Philly and we all got mani/pedis. Such fun! I don’t think I have done my toenails myself since…I stand in front of the spinning rack of polish reading and loving their names: Aphrodite’s Pink Nighty, Barefoot in Barcelona, Chick Flick Cherry, Coney Island Cotton Candy, Lucky, Lucky Lavendar and what is currently on my toes: Just Lanai-ing Around! So relaxing and an affordable luxury – my Mom loved going with me to the pretty salon in town and we had many fun outings there – once I got her over the thought she had “World’s Ugliest Feet”….

    • So interesting how having our nails and feet pampered have led to many wonderful memories with friends, mothers, daughters and granddaughters. All for Chick Flick Cherry and Sunset in Sedona 🙂

  4. Nice to see that this feet defeat brought all of you, ladies, together in one relaxing place. Love this four-generation portrait! What a quality time!

    Feet have always been very special to me. I have a foot fetish. Not shoe fetish, foot fetish.

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful story.

    • Not to be naïve, but what exactly does a foot fetish entail? I hope it includes the ability to enjoy a good foot soak in the tub! Thanks for your comments – I relish the 4-generation time.

  5. As you know, Pam, us Lycoming girls are no strangers to the pedicure parlours! It’s one of life’s indulgences that I intend to support for the long term. Good for you for finding a sweet spot for all the women in your life!

  6. Such a sweet story. As a senior citizen I can relate to grandma. As someone who just had my second bunionectomy, I know how important it is in this world of flip flops and beautiful sandals to have nice looking feet. Years ago, not so much.

    • Good for you, Patricia! I ignored my feet for way too long – used them for long runs and walks, but barely thought about how they needed a nice massage and soak now and then. I’m making up for lost time now.

  7. Speaking of feet- I treated my best friend to a reflexology treatment last weekend. She loves her feet massaged so what better than that. I also had one too. Give it a try sometime!! It’s good for the “Sole”.

    • Hmm, I’ve always been a bit fearful of reflexology. My feet are rather sensitive, and I understand that a certain part of the foot relates to the liver, another part to the kidney, etc. A bit concerning. I’ll have to communicate with you more about the benefits. xo

  8. Glad your mom relented and the four of you had a feel pampering day. I routinely get pedicures and, yes, wear high heels! In my defense I’m on the shorter side and like the height heels give me. My feet haven’t rebelled yet. I had my very first reflexology massage last week. She kept telling me how tight my feet were. What? How? I know my back is tight but now my feet? Sigh…..

    • Ha ha. But I guess if the back is tight, it makes sense that the feet are tight too? I don’t know, but I’m a little jealous that you can wear heels. They DO make an outfit look that much dressier. My daughter is 5 feet 9 and she wears heels all the time. Fortunately her husband is 6 feet 3!

    • I was so against the idea of my young granddaughter enjoying an hour getting her nails done. Seemed totally out of character with my feminist views. However, I’ve seen how time at the nail salon bonds females (yes, it really does!) and particularly females in a family, so I’m going with the salon flow, so to speak. :-0

  9. What a great thing to do with all the generations. Love the picture. In our family we all enjoy pedicures. The day before dad´s funeral 8 years ago in June, all of the girls went for pedicures. Dad would have liked that. It´s so wonderful your mom enjoyed being pampered at last. Because I am so short, I wore heels until I retired last year. Now, in Spain, I wear sandals and flip flops most of the time and love it. I do my own pedicures usually but treat myself once in awhile.I just don´t like feeling short though.

    • I would LOVE to live in a climate that only needed sandals and flip flops. And what a good excuse for needing regular pedicures. 🙂 My mom always complains of being ‘short,’ also (as a tall one, I always wished I was petite like her, of course). In our family photos, she’s always on tip toes.

      • My mom is the only person I know who is shorter than me. One of my goals was to live somewhere were I didn´t need socks. (Although in the winter here you do need socks but it is only for a short time. Still in sandals as we speak!)

  10. What a lovely idea for an outing for four generations! I’ve never had a pedicure so I understand where your grandmother is coming from. And I never wear heels! Never got into the idea of torturing myself to entice males. 🙂 Who knows? When I’m 91 I might give in to please a great-granddaughter. Loved the way you tell the story, Pam, and the picture is priceless.

    • A pedicure does sound like a bit of a useless expense, and I’m pretty tight with my purse, but there’s something about pampering our feet that ends up feeling…right. I hope you try it sometime. I promise, your feet will thank you. xo

  11. I’m with the men on this one–I wear comfortable shoes. On the very rare occasion I go out, I’ll wear heels, but only for a few hours. Life’s too short to spend it uncomfortably!

  12. I enjoyed this post and photo very much! The only thing better than a pedicure is a pedicure with your mother and/or daughter! My 85 year old mother and I went for spa pedicures a few weeks ago when I was visiting. Although she has been getting pedicures regularly for many years due to the fact that she is unable to properly care for her toes due to declining flexibility, it was the first time she got the full spa treatment. She loved the extra pampering! The woman who was doing my pedicure kept looking at my mother and told me several times that she thought my mother was so beautiful because she never stopped smiling while in the big massaging pedicure lounge chair! I believe mothers and daughters have always bonded over grooming and hygiene.

    • Now this was the nicest comment – and makes such an important point. Forget about the fancy high heels or the pretty clothes. Wear a smile on your face, and you will be the most beautiful one in the room. What a lovely story about your mom and her spa time.

  13. What a gorgeous photo Pam, never lose that one. But we lads went through a mad year or two around about 1970, with platform shoes. We clumped around the place four inches taller but, after we’d all damn near broken our ankles, the craze faded.

  14. Sounds like a wonderful bonding experience. It strikes me as interesting how even the feet in women have not gotten a rest. As young girls we’re taught high heels are sexy- and they definitely can be- but then later on our feet pay the price and then it’s easy to feel ashamed because they no longer fit that younger ideal and is it no wonder – speaking for myself- what I’ve done to my feet. I love that you all got to enjoy your feet together. Lovely healing pampering ritual!

  15. I love the comment your 15-going-on-25-year-old niece made. Woah!

    It’s great that your mom had a pedicure. I’m sure the people who work in those places have seen everything and nothing really surprises them. When we first started living in the RUC we had crusher dust underneath the house (it’s crushed blue metal stuff and makes your feet a blackish colour even when you’ve got shoes on). I just couldn’t get my feet clean so I went to have a pedicure. The ‘big boss’ started doing my feet and then yelled something in Mandarin to one of her ‘new girls’ who came over and took over doing my disgusting feet. She was awesome and got them sparkling clean. When she’d finished I slipped an extra $10 into her hand and told her it was hers and not to share it with her boss. LOL 😀

  16. My girlfriends and I used to make a pledge in the spring that we wouldn’t bare our toes until we’d had pedicures. Something about the dry winter air, stuffing our feet into thick socks and boots, that just roughens them up! Glad to know you took mom along, and the granddaughter. What a great moment you all shared!

    • I like that ‘pedicure pledge’ – I think I may start one with the ‘girls’ in my family. I actually use lots of Vaseline on my heels during the winter to keep my feet summery soft (inside those big thick socks).

  17. Well well, I bet your brother in law was just as surprised to hear that explanation as I am. I have to wonder who it was experimented to find out a raised rear does the trick and then how to raise it.
    I think I’d rather see a woman comfortable in flats than crippling herself in heels, some of which look pretty awful anyway.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

  18. It took me many years to have a pedicure and now I am hooked . Oh boy, I do rember those high heels and the pain .
    My mom was 88 when she had her first pedicure . The lady came to my mom’s home and did it.

    • Wow – an ‘at-home’ professional pedicure. What a great idea – and how nice for your mom. When you think back about the pain we endured wearing those ‘heels,’ don’t you wonder why we kept on wearing them??

  19. Four generations in the spa! Now that is fantastic. I love it. It’s only flats for this girl who is on the bunion battle. Mine not from high heels but 15 years a super tight climbing shoes. Who knew?

    • The “bunion battle” – great phrase. No, I hadn’t thought of climbing shoes being the culprit, but it makes sense. Still, not fair, getting bunions, when you’re being athletic and healthy.

  20. Enjoyable post and funny too. Glad your mom agreed to the pedicure. I bet it was a relaxing experience for her. I’ve never had a pedicure- take good care of my feet and only have one small bunion on my great right toe.

    • That’s a new one, Jean. So many people love having their locks massaged as the stylist shampoos and pampers the hair. Well, you just have a sensitive scalp – probably because of the large creative brain it protects!!

  21. Great read..for me its flip flops or bare feet all the way but I do live in sunny climes….however I have a daughter who( does not take after mummy) whose high heels seem just to be an extension of the leg and I’m sure she could run in them too..But such a accurate little story for most of us… love it! 🙂

    • Yes, my daughter is 5’9″ inches and is quite comfortable standing AND running in heels. Crazy. However, she’s starting to get a bunion the same place mine is, so I think heels will soon be in her past. If I could wear flip flops all year long — ah, that would be heaven. 🙂

  22. I am not a typical woman, I guess. I can’t stand high heels, and I’ll wear sneakers or hiking shoes without a complaint. I guess I don’t care about how high my butt is! 🙂

    I do have a bunion, which is genetic, but I love getting pedicures and a foot massage is to die for! I’m glad your mom agreed to go. All it takes is the plea from a little one!

  23. All those crippling shoes are designed by men to torture us. A gift that keeps on giving for your whole life! I seldom wear heels and if I do, they are very low – my daughter calls them granny shoes. Too bad, I prefer comfort over style now! Besides, when you are already 5′ 10″, you tower over everyone!!!
    Loved this post – and we have something in common. I took my mother for her first pedicure when she was 85! I get one every few months, just for the luxury of having soft feet!

  24. Dare I admit I’ve never had a pedicure either? 🙂 But it’s true! I wear heels as little as possible, but still my feet aren’t as happy as they used to be. I suppose a lifetime spent using them does add up…. Give me comfortable shoes any day. And about the only thing I really enjoy about a beach is the feel of warm sand under my bare feet. 🙂 Good for the little one for getting the big one in for that pedi!

    • Not to pressure you into trying a pedicure, but think about all the stress and weight we put on those smallish blocks of flesh at the end of our bodies. I’ve run on them for thousands of miles, as well as walked on them for millions. They deserve a warm bubbly soak now and then. 🙂

  25. men have feet too…but I’ve never had a pedicure. Once someone tried it on my finger…and once (and that one finger) was enough. Never again. Women can have that part of life is what I’m saying

  26. My mom (82) could use a good pedicure, but she, unlike your mom, won’t let anyone near her feet. I treat myself to the occasional pedicure and should do it more often. It feels like such a luxury, but really it’s an act of self-care!

  27. Loved this account, and the photo is priceless. I love foot massages and pedicures and try to go every fortnight. I have a cute and artistic Vietnamese therapist who paints pretty patterns on my big toenails. It’s one of my little luxuries in life, and we all need that, don’t we? 🙂

  28. You have my sympathy. I think walking about in heels must be excruciating. I can’t help being impressed by it too, though. I mean, balancing on those little pointy heels for hour after hour. It’s like a circus trick. Add a bit of juggling or something and you’d definitely have the makings of a stage show in Las Vegas.

  29. I don’t know if my 86-year-old mother-in-law has ever had a pedicure (I assume so), but her shoe collection puts mine to shame! She is teeny-tiny, always impeccably dressed, and wears outrageously high heals. I even took a picture of the shoes in her closet on our last visit thinking that there may be a blog post in there somewhere. Your post made me look at my feet a little more critically… I think it’s time to schedule an appointment.

  30. Oh, Pam! Your Mom reminds me of mine in two ways. She likes to wear pretty clothes and matches up everything so well. The other way, my Mom hates to take off her shoes and let anyone see them. Poor thing, unlike your Mom I am sure, my Mom had those squeezed overlapping “hammer toes.” She wore dresses and heels to teach high school. She let’s me take her to the podiatrist and says “I’m sorry” about 10 times while there. 🙂
    Your granddaughter is a beautiful and bright young “lady!” Way to get her grandmother to change her mind with sweet manners, too. 🙂

  31. So awesome your mom went for it! Taking care of our feet is so important for our health. I massage my feet every night with sesame oil and lavender. I owe them that after stuffing them into pointe shoes and ridiculous high heels in my younger years. I’m all about the flats or chunky low heels now!

  32. I’m with you on wearing flats, especially now that there are so many cute ballerina styles to choose from. I’ve even replaced my heeled boots for comfortable hiking ones. Not as sexy but comfortable and sporty.
    Your mother is awesome! 🙂

  33. How sweet is this…hope you get another chance for the quad pedicure. My husband would die if he heard your niece’s comment from his daughter’s mouth. Little kids…little problems.

  34. Even better than a pedicure is foot reflexology…preferably by a Chinese practioner. Tgere are so many nerve endings and energy centers in the feet that the belief is one can heal many parts of the body via foot pressure. And hey, it feels sooo relaxing and stress reducing.


    • You know what? I’ve been a bit afraid to try foot reflexology because my feet are so sensitive during a regular massage. But that probably indicates I’d get a lot out of reflexology. Okay, on my New Year’s resolution. THANKS. And Happy New Year, Peta. xo

  35. What a great post on feet. As I have an appointment with a podiatrist next week. 😉 This did make me smile and I love that your granddaughter won your mother over to the fun side. I LOVE a pedicure and think we should all get mani/pedi’s, massages and steams as often as possible. Self care is something most women have difficulty doing for themselves. Me included. Feet, they take you everywhere and we treat them so poorly.

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