Strappy sandals, slingbacks, stilettos.
The pump, the platform, the wedge.
The over-the-knee, the tall and the ankle boot.
Truth be told – I love them all. I’ve never been a girl for big jewelry, but I’ve always been big into shoes. Literally.
I’m a woman of height. I’m not a skinny gal. And I have big feet. In fact the number 10 has always defined me. I’m 5’10, I wear a size 10 dress and size 10 shoes. Shopping has never been complicated and that’s just the way I like it.
In fact when you’re a 10, you can always find your size, even on picked over sales racks. Ever notice there is always a size 5 and a size 10 left on the shelf? I pitty those poor 7s and 8s. Those average sizes are the first to go, but not the 10.
Most of my adult life you would never find me outside a pair of pumps. I spent over a decade as a television reporter in Edmonton, Alberta chasing down leads, standing at crime scenes and running down sidewalks outside the courthouse; always with a cameraman over my shoulder and a pair of 3 inch heels on my feet. Fires and tornados often forced me to discard the pumps for my running shoes, but I still had the prettiest running shoes I could find.
When my husband and I decided it was time to start a family, things changed. I left my reporting career behind and turned in a microphone for the glamourous life of a stay-at-home mom. My wardrobe went from bright coloured TV blazers to black yoga pants and t-shirts. I traded my own bank account for a joint family one, sleep became a luxury, and all the time in the world for friends and co-workers quickly diminished over the demands of a new baby. All of this, I was ok with. I knew it would be short lived and one day I would get it all back.
My pregnancy was relatively easy. I thank those size ten birthing hips. My post-baby recovery was pretty standard. My fear of never fitting into my pre-baby jeans subsided quickly. I was one of the lucky ones. My gigantic baby belly shrunk, my six chins faded away and even my breastfeeding bosom still fit in my pre-baby Victoria’s Secret bras. Thank god!
But the one part of me that didn’t shrink back to its original size and the one thing that I never even considered would be a problem: my perfectly sized feet. Those, I will never get back.
All of a sudden my size 10 pumps were the most painful things in the world. My tall boots caused me nothing but agony. My strappy sandals felt like my feet were in a vice. I couldn’t walk without pain. What the hell happened?
Being a former reporter, I did some research.
Jane Andersen is a Podiatrist and the spokesperson for the American Podiatric Medical Association. She also writes for Baby Centre; the website every mom visits to answer all the worrisome medical questions moms have in those early baby days.
Here’s what she says about pregnancy and growing feet.
“Yes. As you’re discovering, your belly isn’t the only thing that gets bigger during pregnancy! This is partly due to pregnancy weight gain and swelling from the extra fluid your body retains while you’re pregnant. But there’s another reason that feet seem to grow during pregnancy. The aptly named pregnancy hormone relaxin, which loosens the joints around your pelvis, so your baby can make his way down the birth canal, also loosens the ligaments in your feet, causing the foot bones to spread. Your foot bones aren’t actually growing — it’s just that the ligaments that hold these 26 bones together aren’t as tight as they were. While the foot swelling generally subsides within a month after delivery, any foot spreading caused by looser ligaments is permanent. The bright side, if there is one, is that you get to buy new shoes!”
Well sh$%! Really Jane? Is that the bright side?
Guess what happens when you are already on the top end of the shoe scale? If your feet get bigger, there is nowhere left to go. Not even up.
I shuffled in my big two-dollar flip flops down to the Tall Girl store and bought some size 11 shoes, but as Jane said, feet don’t get bigger, they get wider. Here in Canada, wide shoe widths don’t really exist. In the U.S, where Jane lives, there are several outlets that cater to wide shoe widths. But I don’t live in the U.S.
My easy shoe shopping life had just become super complicated. That is, till Poppy Barley hit the scene.
One morning I was watching my old former station, Global News. There, on the screen, was Kendall Barber, owner of Poppy Barley, talking all about made to measure boots. Made to Measure! Right here in Edmonton! Could this be the answer to my blistered and miserable wide feet?
My first boots were the Everyday City Boot and Poppy Barley’s first heeled boots. They came in a wide width and fit like a comfortable glove. I wear them almost every day. My measurements are now in the system and I can order up a new pair of shoes whenever I need them from the comfort of my own home. I don’t even have to drag my children shopping with me.
Since baby number one, I also birthed my own PR agency under my own name, Bangel PR. Suddenly meetings with clients, PR launches and promotional events demanded something more professional than my stay-at-home mom yoga pants and t-shirts. The blazers moved from the back of the closet to the front, however; my old pumps were long gone. But that’s OK, my other precious joys, Poppy Barley’s Classic Point flats, the Feminine Slipper, the new Slip-on Oxford, and the Chelsea Boot, have taken their place and are as professional and as beautiful as any patent pump I used to own. In fact, with the birth of my second daughter, I didn’t even hope that somehow my feet would magically return to their normal size ten width.
In my hardworking made to measure boots and shoes I now chase a toddler, a rolling baby, and those television cameramen and reporters. I juggle a busy family life of obligations to husband, kids and clients. I make television appearances, I give PR support to local start-ups, budding entrepreneurs, other working moms like me, community groups and non-profits. I do it all, often with a small person in the wings or on my size 10 birthing hip. Everything about my new life now is complicated – but buying shoes is not. Poppy Barley footwear fits easy into my life – after all – why wouldn’t they.
They’re a perfect 10!