The Wordsmythe's Weblog…

…On Words, Love and Life

Discrimination against large feet. Sizeism?

‘Bata’ was a shoe company in Nigeria when I was growing up. Most of us who went to school in Nigeria in the ’70’s and 80’s had our school shoes bought from Bata. To say they weren’t the most flattering footwear would be a gross understatement. Apparently the company still exists in some parts of the world and they have an online shop. If like me you wonder if it still make those ugly shoes, Google it!

‘Bata’ became common usage for the word ‘shoes’ in the western part of the country. Anyway I tried to find a word that meant lover of shoes but couldn’t. The word for ‘lover of’ in English, originally from Greek, is ‘phile.’ So in my usual fashion and with my poetic licence,  I put the two together to make ‘bataphile’ meaning ‘lover of shoes’.

So I told you I don’t enjoy shopping much here but I am a ‘bataphile’. I do love shoes and am able to overcome my dislike for shopping just to get some.

There’s just something about pretty shoes that does it for me. They serve the practical purpose of protecting your feet. Ok, I have to admit that there are some styles that do more harm than good but I’m not referring to those. Shoes have the innate ability to dress an outfit up or down. They are great morale boosters and they make feet look good, even ‘ugly’ feet.

I love shoes. Different types of shoes. Great trainers for functional reasons not necessarily for aesthetics, strappy high-heeled sandals, court shoes, ballerina pumps, flat sandals, roman/gladiator sandals, slippers etc. I love them all. I wish I could afford to buy a pair of each style in every colour.

The reason for this post wasn’t necessarily to let you know about my love of shoes but to gripe about something else.

Could someone please enlighten me why it is that a lot of shoe manufacturers feel that it’s not worth bothering with anyone with feet larger than a UK size 8 (US size 10)? And why do the selective few who deign to make shoes in larger sizes reckon that people with larger feet can surely not possess any appreciation for cute styles or possibly have any fashion sense?

While you’re at it, could you also tell me why shoe manufacturers automatically assume that large feet are always appendages of large calves? So that when I do manage to find knee-length boots that fit my size eight and a half /size nine feet, there is usually enough extra leather in the calf section to make an additional pair of shoes? My feet may be large but they are narrow and my calves slim. Who says large feet can’t do dainty and delicate?

I don’t get it. You see a lovely pair of shoes in a shop window, you walk in and ask to try on a pair in your size. That’s when you get the look. The one that says;

“Oh you miserable sod! You’re one of ‘them’! Yours will never be the pleasure of prancing around in pretty high heels. Nor will you ever know the joy of strutting your stuff on the dance floor wearing sparkly ballerina pumps. For you will be bulky boat shoes and clunky clogs. Perhaps you’ll fare better in the men’s section?”

Then with pity in his/her eyes, he/she smiles and says ever so politely;

“I’m sorry, our shoes only go up to size 8.”

This is a scene that is replayed over and over again when I go shoe-shopping and quite frankly, I’m fed up. It’s sizeism! It’s discrimination of the worst kind! The kind that never makes the headlines. The kind that goes unnoticed as a large percentage of the world’s population will never experience it either because they don’t fall into this category or because they simply can’t be bothered with wearing shoes at all.

I’ve a mind to start lobbying my local MP for a new bill to be passed in the Houses of Parliament. It will become illegal for shoe manufacturers not to make and shoe retailers not to stock pretty and fashionable footwear in larger sizes. Anyone who falls foul of this law will be liable to supply said footwear to the customer for the rest of their (customer’s) life. And should aforementioned customer die within five years of award under suspicious circumstances, then any offspring who has inherited similarly sized extremities shall benefit from same.

What say you? Yea or nay?

Tara for now.


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17 thoughts on “Discrimination against large feet. Sizeism?

  1. U shud c the expression on my face, its much like: “Oh you miserable sod! You’re one of ‘them’! Yours will never be the pleasure of prancing around in pretty high heels. Nor will you ever know the joy of strutting your stuff on the dance floor wearing sparkly ballerina pumps. For you will be bulky boat shoes and clunky clogs. Perhaps you’ll fare better in the men’s section?”

    Lol. Ok, #jokes but I do see ur POV. A lot of the cuter shoes come in smaller shoes n sumtimes I want to force my feet into a US 8, becuz I feel the size @ which a size stops lookin so cute is @ 8. (N I’m only a half size larger. Lol)

    From me, its a yea.

    • H, If I were in shoes (pardon the pun), I wouldn’t be complaining about US size 8 and a half! That’s a UK size 6 and a half. There are plenty of cute shoes in your size, trust me, I would know.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Yea. I feel your ire. I will think of you each time I rock a pair of my size 5s. As for your Inheritance Bill, why not if not?

  3. Njide Egbuna on said:

    LOL!! couldn’t stop laughing!! oh dear!!. sorry my dear am not laughing at you…I do feel you though, 2 of my sisters have the same gripe ALL the time..size 9 feet. ok, i say yea…still laughing :-)))

  4. CityDiva on said:

    I have alot to say on this matter as I am also a wearer of US size 11 😦 I feel like I am employed full time looking for shoes that fit. I dont go on holiday anywhere I cant shop. Why go see the great wall of China when I wont be leaving with a pair of shoes that fit? When one does stumble across a pair in the right size, Euro 42/US 11 am often speechless at just how ugly these shoes are ?? I agree with N, I could actually punch shoe manufacturers when I see what they come up with in large sizes. Even some of the faithful stores here have stopped doing anything above Euro 41/ UK 7 ? I wonder why? are we not supposed to wear shoes? I have gone from a bataphile to “anything that fits”. I could go on as this is one of my pet peeves but I will hold my peace :-)))


    ps I think I am voting Yea

  5. Hey I loved this! Bata still exisists in my part of the world! I just went there yesterday lured by signs outside the shop that said ” Sale Sale upto 50 % off”. Now all Bata show rooms dont stock nice shoes- as in they stock only what is ok for school wear of the 1970s and 80s gen. But surprisingly this one seemed to be made for Gen next! All strappy sandles with heels high enough to require elevators to board them..! I empathise with you about the shoe size. While I am a Bata shoe size 5 ( i dont know the UK equivalent friend) my feet are not as slim as they are small! So I struggle like Cinderellas sisters!

  6. bukky on said:

    Enjoyed reading that, felt like you were writing from my heart. My feet are a lovely Euro 43/UK 9/10.
    It was a good day, when I walked into House of Fraser one afternoon and found about 12 pairs of shoes in the NineWest section that actually fitted, I bought a few 🙂 but right now i’m guaranteed something nice from
    Thanks for sharing.

  7. Hi Bukky,
    It’s nice to find fellow large feet owners. I took a cursory glance at but wasn’t really bowled over by the styles I saw. I will take time to check it out properly.
    I’m going to the States in a couple of months so hope to raid the DSW stores in the city I’m visiting.
    Take care and thanks for stopping by

  8. Sussike on said:

    Um, sizeism exist towards both ends and not only in shoe shops, but in regard to clothes as well. I have small+narrow feet and short legs+big bum. My feet are EU35, just 1 number below the adult range here in Estonia and I get the “go and see the children’s section” comment from the sales personnel. In a quite rude way. But I cannot go to work in children’s shoes, I’m a lawyer, for God’s sake! And I have never in my life been able to buy in my home country a pair of pants that didn’t need to be made shorter (for an extra fee, of course!). There are pants with my leg length (I’m 5’4”), but then they are too small around the hips. Shopping in the US was a bliss, though, they seem to have a big enough market for it to be profitable to cater for everybody.

  9. I also, as a guy, have this problem; however, my problem isn’t with the length of the shoe, but rather the width. I can not find a “decent” shoe anymore that is within my range of width. I say yay to the bill.

  10. Haha I have size 14 uk feet and no where in the world sells nice roller skates / inlines it’s crap having big feet

  11. I live in the US and have the exact same problem here! I where a size US 11 and although supposedly plenty of women now where this size, huge companies don’t even make them at all!! And trying to go shoe shopping is the most miserable experience ever. The UK was even worse in my opinion, I studied at Oxford and could never find shoes to buy! I agree that this is discrimination!

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