Many of us take the ability to walk pain-free for granted. Hundreds of millions of people around the world today don’t have that luxury. They are often forced to use makeshift solutions to stay on their feet and maintain their “normal life”. The following are some of our customers' personal stories that we've been told throughout the past couple of months.
If you’ve lived in Hong Kong for over a year, you know how sweaty the summer gets. It’s that season when many of us trade our hot closed shoes and slide into sandals and flip-flops. When talking to Pauline, it quickly became apparent that not everyone is in the position to make this refreshing transition. Whenever she decides to slide into flip-flops, she’s forced to bring a “back-up” pair of sneakers. Her comfort flip-flops are only built for people with mild foot ailments. While they do allow her to walk in the first place, they don’t address her personal (and more advanced) problems. That’s why she is bound to alternating between her sneakers with insoles every 10-20 minutes. On the bright side, she can switch shoe styles every mile, but you wouldn’t want to walk in her shoes. You can begin to imagine that many people like Pauline have given up on summer footwear altogether.
Duct Tape Dinner
It’s not a point of contention when I say that orthopedic shoes don’t tend to be aesthetically pleasing. Go on twitter and you’ll find statements such as: “I only order orthopedic shoes online when I’m drunk”. This is just one of many comment about orthopedic shoe design. After returning our sandals to a test customer after a week of depriving them of our product for a quality check, we asked her how life without our shoes had impacted her life. She mentioned it was unfortunate timing to be without her sandals as it happened to be the week where she had an annual fundraiser she was looking forward to attending. The half-day event at a luxurious hotel required her to constantly be on her feet and mingle. When dressing for the event, she was left with one of two options - either forfeiting the opportunity or pairing a gala dress with her running shoes (and insoles). Being the inventive and resilient woman that she is, it was back to the drawing board and onto the supermarket and pharmacy - thus, the birth of plan number three! At the supermarket, she purchased a roll of thin duct tape, used to tape an existing insole to a pretty pair of modest heels. For precaution purposes, she popped four anti-inflammatory tablets and ventured the night with her fingers crossed. After four hours, the fundraiser had come to an end - not for all those who attended, but for her, as the drugs had worn off and she had worn out.
The Price of Fashion
Last Saturday I got coffee with Leigh at corner cafe near LKF. We talked about shoe styles and how her feet influence her daily life. Leigh is a very energetic and outgoing woman who loves sports, teaching her students, and has a keen eye when it comes to fashion. We had a lot of fun as she talked about how her shoes were part of the greater ensemble that is her style. While joking around about what the actual “ensemble” was, we got on the topic of her foot troubles. Like many of her peers, she had spent many years on (very) high heels. According to our doctors, shoes with heels over four centimeters are a no-no. One of her favorite pairs are cute cut-off booties with a zip closure at the back and hard leather support that fit snug around her ankle. They had always been somewhat uncomfortable, but Leigh hadn’t thought too much of it, after all, beauty is pain. After spending many hours walking across Hong Kong in these shoes, the pain increased despite that she had switched to something more comfortable. By the time she went to a podiatrist to get her feet checked, it turned out she had almost snapped her Achilles. It’s easy to say, “well then just don’t wear those shoes”, but many options for women’s shoes tend to be unhealthy regardless. By the time you become aware of the pain, the damage may be irreversible.
For over the last six months, I’ve had the amazing opportunity to talk to several women and understand how they experience their lives in the context of their foot ailments. The one thing that strikes me every time is how resilient and inventive they are. Whether it be duct tape or swapping shoes, they are continuously looking for ways to find comfort without compromising style, and ultimately feeling and being their confident selves. You definitely wouldn’t want to walk a mile in their shoes and should appreciate how easy your mile is.
Share your personal shoe stories with us! Drop us a line at: myshoes@getGROM.com.