Foot Note

Sharon Stone has ugly feet.

Before you dismiss Ms. Stone as The Blonde or The Body or That Shot in Basic Instinct, see The Mighty directed by Peter Chelsom (1998).

She’s fab.  But not her feet.

She featured in a star sheet spread, usual thing, bikinis and ball gowns, but though immaculately planed and polished, the feet don’t have it.


I was fascinated.  I always am by the idea that if you do enough to an unfortunate feature, it is transformed through effort.  Like men draping long hair over the bald patch.   Doesn’t work.   But I notice feet.  Prevailing fashion holds that you have to have “beach feet” all year round, that not to, is to admit you haven’t tried (reflexology, massage, foot masks, etc) while the logical extension of trying so hard is achievement.  But feet are finite.  Strip sandals are an invention of the devil and only Tamsin Outhwaite has ever had the right feet for the right shoes and vice versa so I didn’t hear a word she said (sorry).  I couldn’t take my eyes off those feet in those shoes.  It was what it was supposed to be and in the last however long that naked feet with varnished toenails in sandals exposing as much as possible (a new nudity ?) have been in fashion – from couture to the Co-op – I have only seen it work half a dozen times.  My particular recoil is saved for slightly too long nails with pearlised polish and I am nothing like a foot fetishist.  I just wouldn’t score highly in the foot beauty awards.  Mine are just humbly plain.

My first husband called them umfazi feet.  He told me it’s a Shona (Zimbabwean language) word for woman.  I was a barefoot girl and as it says in one of my books about dance, dancers’ feet bear weight and barefoot dancers’ feet are hooves.   Under pressure to modify and conform, I attacked them with hard skin remover cream, too nervous to use one of the widely offered peelers or sanders.  Better.  I slapped cream on them.  It helped.  I have wonky toenails, no polish in the world becomes them.  I tried.  Twice.  Waste of everybody’s time and effort.  Clean, neat and think about something else.  No strip sandals, hate thongs.  Broad strap across the joint, sandal attached to foot.


25 years ago, arriving in Paris for a glamorous weekend with second husband, my left foot wasn’t comfortable.  Examination revealed something nasty in the woodshed between the smallest and the next toe.  I slipped shoes off at every opportunity and come Monday, went to see a chiropodist who reduced a soft infected corn to manageable proportions while trying to sell me on having the little toe broken and reset.  I declined.

For years the degree of discomfort caused by this small imperfection varied.  The best money I ever spent was with Bastien Gonzalez, foot man to the stars, a former skier, whose massage of the leg from knee to ankle and painstaking clean treatment of the foot really was as good as a week’s holiday.  In the sun.  And the after effects for three months.  Looked good, felt beautiful, lesion rested.

The only person who closed that lesion was Margaret Dabbs, former nurse retrained as podiatrist whose “medical pedicure” I found through The Independent.

But the product she used – an iodine based substance made for podiatrists called Ichthammol – is no longer manufactured.  And when I asked my current foot woman why, she answered “Because it is too cheap.  Not enough profit.”  I used surgical spirit every day between the toes after a shower.  Post-war child, I was used to nurses sponging their feet with it to refresh and toughen the skin.  Cleans white woodwork a treat too.

So – here’s what Santa put in my stocking.  It’s gone.   The soft corn I have had so long and whimpered over at intervals for years.  Gone.  I wear softer shoes and heaven interceded for me.


An odd girl I once visited at a Laingian refuge said I should try and make friends with my feet.  They worked hard for me.  I took them for granted, didn’t respect them and you can’t get far without them.   At the time I thought her remarks strange but time has proved her right.

You don’t have to flash feet about but you do have to take care of them.

One response to “Foot Note

  1. I am adopted, and when I met my birth family I noticed that my birthmother and one of my half-siblings all kick off our shoes at any opportunity. Sitting next to them on a sofa, I looked down and noticed with amused horror that we share have very similar and therefore similarly ugly feet!

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