07/25/2012 09:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

If the Shoe Fits

If the shoe doesn't fit...

Wear it anyway? Confession: I don't know how to buy shoes -- apparently, anyway. For a couple of years I noticed a protruding bump on my heel but never did anything about it because it didn't hurt. Recently, however, one of my parents' friends came over for dinner, noticed it, and advised me to get an MRI immediately. (He's a surgeon.) Startled, I began to ask him a series of questions, trying to gauge the gravity of the situation. He said it could be anything from minor swelling to calcification that would continue to get worse until I could no longer walk. Eeek!

I called Westside Medical Imaging in Beverly Hills, CA and scheduled an emergency (okay, so maybe not a pressing emergency, but still) MRI. After a 45- minute scan of each foot, I sat with Dr. Elliot Kolin, who discussed the images with me, especially that little white dot on the bottom right.


Luckily, I only have a small edema (swelling) on my right heel due to malfunctioning shoes -- they were too small. He recommended I buy bigger shoes and get some shoes stretched. Okay, so not the worse case scenario, but I still felt like an idiot. As someone who loves shopping, finding out I don't know how to buy shoes was kind of degrading. Besides, don't most people learn how to identify if a shoe fits by kindergarten? Well, apparently, I'm not alone.

A few days later, as I perused the shoe department at Barneys, admiring the little pieces of artwork a lucky few get to wear on their feet, I overheard a disturbing conversation. Two high school girls discussed which shoes to buy for an upcoming dance. Girl one was buying the shoes, and girl two was there for "moral support." Girl one contemplated two pairs of Christian Louboutins: nude peep-toe pumps ($945) and silver rhinestone closed-toe pumps ($3,395). After wobbling around with hands outstretched, barely avoiding a few nosedives, girl one declared, "I like the nude ones. They are a little tight, but it's fine." Girl two agreed. Girl one purchased the shoes, and the two pranced out the door, giddy with confidence over their recent purchase. But what exactly should they have been proud of? The fact that they just purchased a pair of $945 shoes, or the fact that they just paid $945 for shoes that did not fit?

I mean, I understand the whole "beauty is pain" mentality, but what happens when the pain results in surgery? Is a long-term injury worth the compliments and ego-boost of wearing beautiful shoes? Absolutely not. So then why don't I know how to buy shoes? After seriously considering various possibilities, I think I found my answer. Because I always shop on sale, the selection of shoe sizes becomes very limited, and over the years, I have (subconsciously?) grown to sacrifice comfort for fashion. I know -- utterly stupid and superficial. But I never thought it would lead to immobility. And evidently, neither did those girls. So, please, next time you find yourself in a size bind and think you'll just power through, think again.