On Toe Jam and Self Esteem



Purple T-strap sandals from Payless. I can't believe I have my feet out today. Polish going back like a receding hairline in need of a relaxer after playing in the sprinklers on a hot day. And it's chipped. And I forget to put lotion on my feet before I left my mama's house. Well, I didn't forget, I really didn't feel like it. But, that's a different story. This story is about victory. It's a victory that my feet are out because years ago I had a complex about my feet and hated to show them.

I've always had big feet and being taller than your average child that should have been expected, but on top of my feet being big I also had long toes and my feet were pale. I grew up with a light-skin girl complex, too, and always got teased about being light--literally from head to toe. It's like my body was one shade, but you'd get down past my ankles and I'm looking like chicken batter at the feet! I think I'm unofficially the first little black girl to take up tanning. Ghetto tanning.

*in my Sophia from "Golden Girls voice* Picture it: Harvey, Illinois, the summer of 1994. A typical summer day meant riding bikes with my BFF, Kim, playing double dutch with the girls on the block and sitting on the front porch tanning. I'd slather baby oil all over my feet and bake. We lived on a pretty busy corner, so I'd car watch. Flicking rims, custom paint jobs on Caprice Classics, booming sound systems turned up to capacity but still sounding muffled as hell, dudes trying to holla as they drove by. I wasn't really a car booty, but the free car shows were interesting to me. Great backdrop to sit and bake. Sit and bake. A happy day was seeing that tan line.

I didn't really think my feet were ugly, but I remember how my cousin use to tease me, saying I had "finger toes." That was sooo not funny, but I can laugh now (I'm actually laughing right now as I type this, so I must not need therapy for this after all). My tanning would go on like this for a couple more summers, but then I realized something. I HATE SOCKS!! I hate the feeling of my feet being contained. I hated those pajamas with the footies as a kid, I hated walking around the house in socks, I hated people who slept in their socks. Socks suck! I refused to be a slave to socks, so I learned to rock my pale feet.

Then, I got confirmation that my feet weren't ugly after all. One day, I'm walking out of the library and this man stops me. He's making small talk and compliments me on my feet. He even asks if he can kiss them, no joke. He wanted to massage them for me. This really isn't as creepy as it sounds; I was flattered. My feet have gone on to stop many men in their tracks over the years (just yesterday I got stopped, receding polish and all). Lots of foot lovin' in my life to say the least. But, the love of my feet first had to start with me. I can't help that they're slightly pale and I still have long toes (but I appreciate that they go in descending order from largest to smallest; so not a fan of when the second toe is longer than the big toe). My feet don't look like hammertime and they are strong enough for me to walk this journey that is my life.

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