Dr Oz says our feet get bigger as we age, and we gain a half size or more with every passing decade. I wore size 6 when 20, now I wear a size 8 to 8.5, depending on the shape. I wore heels when young (tho platforms) and now I am trying to retrain hammer toes and bunions. It’s much easier to avoid them entirely by getting shoes with a bigger toe box (DON’T squash your toes – give them room to move) and low heels.

WSJ: Feet Are Getting Bigger, and Many People Wear Shoes That Don’t Fit Right
In a U.K. survey, more than a third of men and nearly half of women admitted buying shoes that didn’t fit right

No matter how big or small your feet, though, your shoes could be hurting them—or even causing permanent harm. In the U.K study, involving 2,000 adults, more than a third of men and nearly half of women admitted buying shoes that didn’t fit properly. Shoes with a narrow “toe box,” the industry term for the front part of the shoe, can push the big toe in and create or accelerate a bunion, says Steven L. Haddad, a Glenview, Ill., orthopedic surgeon and president of the American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society. It can also constrict the toes, resulting in what are known as “hammertoe deformities.”

“It’s like when your mom said, ‘Don’t make that face, it will stay that way,’ ” he says. “It does actually stay that way when you put so much pressure on the toe over a long period of time.”

Designers often weigh fashion against function in the quest to grab a share of the U.S. shoe market, where sales are expected to top $68 billion this year, according to Euromonitor International. To make shoes more visually appealing, manufacturers can fiddle with proportions, such as the height of the heel or the width of the “last,” the mold on which a shoe is formed.

Stuart Weitzman, founder and creative director of his eponymous shoe line, says he has learned to resist temptation. “I won’t make a last narrower in the front than it should be to give it a sleeker look—that’s like wearing a girdle,” he says. Three decades ago, the company’s average size was a 7, and the company made shoes up to size 10. Now, the average is 8, and his company makes shoes up to size 12, he says.


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