When I was a teenager, somebody told me I have ugly feet. I looked down. My feet are wide. My toes are long – if they were cigarettes they’d be Super Kings. There are lumps at the back of my ankles. And my little toes curl inwards like tiny Wotsits.
I blame ballet. From the age of three, I squished my soft little feet into snug fitting ballet slippers and eventually I went up onto pointe shoes.
For three decades after that comment, I longed for straight toes and – oh the irony – for narrow feet that slipped elegantly into flat ballet pumps. Mine bulged over the sides. Muffin-feet.
Along came Reiki and my practice was helping self-acceptance to blossom, but my unconscious foot shame remained. I shunned strappy sandals and feminine flip-flops, opting for DMs, Fly boots and chunky clogs. In summer I thanked the footwear gods for Converse and Espadrilles.
But then in 2016, I trained in Nia Dance barefoot fitness and unexpectedly fell in love - with my feet. When I lose myself in the music, I am flooded with gratitude for every inch of bone, joint, ligament, skin, muscle and sinew in my body. And of course when I’m dancing, my feet step, flex, tap, stretch, glide and kick. I’m glad they’re wide and strong.
Learning to love the attractive, semi-attractive and neither-here-nor-there bits of myself was difficult enough, but it’s really challenging learning to love the unattractive bits. My size sixes are more Shrek than Dr Scholl, but I’m determined to take my self-love all the way.