New Manolos may give you bunions, but at least they’re good for the planet

Manolo Blahnik likely hasn't given much thought to the pain he causes in women who wear his towering shoes, which are often held up four inches or more by a pencil-thin stiletto heel can easily cause falls. Bunions, hammer toe, plantar fasciitis, blisters and bruises have all been suffered in the name of Mr. Blahnik's creations.

Something that does apparently concern the stylish shoemaker is all of the wasted fish skins, cork and raffia that pollute the planet. As a result, he decided to team up with designer Marcia Patmos to develop Earth-friendly, high-end footwear, according to Women's Wear Daily.

So far, the pair has designed two models: a high heeled sandal that comes in neon blue, black nude or yellow and an open-toed flat. And they can be yours for just $895 each!

"I am always researching sustainable materials and developments. I love the idea of tilapia skin because it is a by-product of the food industry that would otherwise be discarded, but it’s actually a beautiful material perfect for small leather goods," Patmos said, quoted by the news source. "I love bringing the idea of sustainability into the luxury market – it doesn’t have to be limited to T-shirts and grocery bags."

Readers, if Bunionella is going to drop a month's rent on a pair of shoes, they'd better be made of something a little more luxurious than the remains of last night's dinner. Nice try, Patmos and Blahnik.

Luckily, has some more wallet-friendly suggestions for vegan and ecologically sound high heels.

For instance, did you know that Black Swan actress Natalie Portman has her own line of shoes? The website favors a pair of red vegan suede wedges with some pretty folded details on the toe and heel. These retail for $295, according to EcoSalon.

The website has also alerted me to a brand that may become my new obsession: Olsen Haus. The vegan brand has satiated my shoe fetish with one glance at its online catalog. Dramatic wedge oxfords, stiletto booties, open-toed heels and some leopard printed beauties all grace the pages of the Olsen Haus website, making my mouth salivate and bunions twinge.

It may be possible to wear these towering masterpieces without agitating bunions too much. A nightly routine of a foot soak, exfoliation of calluses and wearing the Bunion Aid by Alpha Orthotics allows me to satisfy my fetish without bunion pain – and now, I can do it all while helping to preserve the planet.

Kelly Bensimon thinks she’s a shoe designer

Former model Kelly Bensimon was often the subject of vitriol during her stint on Bravo's The Real Housewives of New York. Now, the pseudo-celebrity is doing something good for society, even if it does involve blatant self-promotion.

E! Online reports that Bensimon is getting ready to release a line of ballet flats. Each pair of shoes will cost $39.99, with $3 from every sale going toward the Breast Cancer Research Fund.

The reality television star told the news source that it's "really exciting" to be able to contribute to breast cancer research. Additionally, she said that ballet flats are just the beginning.

"This is the start of a bigger Kelly collection. This is my first huge milestone and I'm hoping to bring all this great product and be able to be as charitable as possible on the largest scale possible," Bensimon said, quoted by the news source.

She said that she chose affordable ballet flats because she wanted them to be accessible to a number of people, not just those with padded wallets and the ability to walk in towering heels.

"These shoes are so hot, they speak for themselves. They don't need anybody to be wearing them," Bensimon said, quoted by E!

Well, give yourself a nice little pat on the back, Kelly. But know that your flats won't be doing your customer's feet any favors. (Also know that you make very little sense when you speak.)

According to Mike O'Neill, spokesperson for the Society of Chiropodists, flats lack arch support and can cause the toes to tense up, because people wearing this type of footwear often do this as an effort to keep the flimsy shoes from flying off, as quoted by the Daily Mail. Additionally, the news source spoke to another osteopath who reported that wearing flats can cause a person to alter their biomechanics.

This sounds like something that could exacerbate bunions, if you ask me.

Listen, if you want to keep bunions at bay, it's all about support. Having solid arch support is key in maintaining proper landing mechanics, which allow the foot to hit the ground evenly. When wearing either flats or high heels, the forefoot lands in an unnatural position, making it harder for a metatarsophalangeal joint that is predisposed to developing bunions – since the condition is largely hereditary – to stay in alignment.

New trend suggests the prevalence of bunions among men may soon be on the rise

Podiatrists and foot experts report that bunions, hammer toe and fallen arches are most common among women due to the shoes we wear. Towering heels that pinch the toes are almost guaranteed to exacerbate foot conditions, so a new fashion trend among men suggests that dudes should start investing in bunion splints and orthotics.

According to The New York Times, men are getting in on the high heel action, and not just drag queens, either. Reporter Tricia Romano visited a number of clubs and parties to gain more insight into the trend.

She encountered one man who paired his black tank top and pants with a pair of neon green lace-up stiletto ankle boots. Another pair of guys were sporting simple white button-up shirts with dark gray dress pants, with one finishing off his look with black leather booties and the other choosing some simple peep-toes. A more high-end party-goer chose a pair of $1,395 Imperiale stiletto ankle boots to add even more flair to his ensemble of a motorcycle jacket, black jeans and a skinny tie.

These decidedly masculine outfits suggest that the drive behind the trend is not to look like women, but to gain some of the benefits that the ladies have been enjoying over the years thanks to a wide array of choices when it comes to footwear.

"It’s a power thing. You’re higher than everybody else. You make more sound. You walk a different way. It makes your legs look better," said Los Angeles party planner Gregory Alexander, quoted by the news source.

The Times article suggests that this is not merely a fleeting fad, but the re-emergence of what was once a popular men's fashion. For instance, Louis XVI apparently had a penchant for 5-inch heels decorated with battle scenes. That is, until Napoleon ruined all of the fun by banning the footwear. (Sounds like someone had a bit of a complex about his height.)

ABC News also reported on the trend, saying that it's about men becoming more comfortable with their feminine sides. However, the news source reported that this may soon be outweighed by the discomfort of the binding footwear.

"Once they dig their feet into a pair of six-inchers and realize how incredibly awkward it feels, I think most guys will run back to flats," said Village Voice writer Michael Musto, quoted by the news source.

Luckily for today's trendy dudes, bunion splints or orthotics may help correct any deformities that may occur as a result of staying on top of the latest fashions.

Bunion risk may add to Condoleeza Rice’s regret over Katrina disaster

Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has written an upcoming memoir, to be released on Nov. 1, that recounts some of her memorable moments working under the George W. Bush administration. One such event was apparently a shoe shopping spree that occurred just as Hurricane Katrina devastated the coast of Louisiana.

Rice wrote that she received a call from the Homeland Security Secretary just as the storm was rolling in.

"He said he'd call if he needed me," she wrote. "I hung up, got dressed, and went to see Spamalot," the musical based on Monty Python and the Holy Grail. "The next morning, I went shopping at the Ferragamo shoe store."

After the severity of the situation became apparent, Rice said she felt great regret.

"I sat there kicking myself for having been so tone-deaf," she wrote. "I was the highest-ranking black in the administration and a key adviser to the President. What had I been thinking?"

Oh, Condi, Condi, Condi. Don't you know that towering Ferragamos at your age put you at a significant risk of developing bunions? I mean, ignoring a national tragedy is one thing, but putting your foot health at risk is quite another. Have you ever seen a bunion, Condi? Have you? It ain't pretty.

A study that was conducted by researchers in Australia and the UK, published in the March 2011 issue of Arthritis Care and Research, suggests that aging women are at the highest risk of bunions when compared to any other demographic. That puts Rice, who will turn 57 on Nov. 14, directly in the bunion danger zone.

Moreover, researchers at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, found that African Americans are more likely to develop bunions, hammer toe, corns and flat feet than their Caucasian counterparts. High heels are known to exacerbate each of these conditions, since they often squeeze the foot into a narrow shape and put undue pressure on the forefoot.

"These foot disorders are very common among people age 45 and older, and can lead to more serious problems such as falls, decreased physical activity and decreased quality of life," said Yvonne M. Golightly, P.T., Ph.D., lead author of the paper titled Racial Differences in Foot Disorders: The Johnston County Osteoarthritis Project.

So, Condi, how are those feet feeling? If you've started to notice a bony protrusion on the inner edge of your foot, you may be developing a bunion. Luckily, bunion splints or orthotics can help reduce the appearance of bunions or hammer toe without the need for bunion surgery.

Bunioned celebrities can make great Halloween costumes

Look at you lucky east coasters! Getting to celebrate Halloween two weekends in a row thanks to a snow storm. Whether you want to don a different costume or didn't get a chance to head out last weekend, Bunionella has some ideas for you. 

If you're anything like me, thinking up a Halloween costume each year is a total drag. Options range from a sexy incarnation of pretty much any noun you can think of to people in the news, or a combination of the two. (Last year, my seductive Chilean miner costume went over quite well, if I do say so.)

But since I've been hitting this blog pretty hard lately, I have bunions on my mind 24/7. As such, I think I shall use the bony deformity as an inspiration for this year's costume. But who should I choose? There are so many bunioned characters out there.

Take Oprah Winfrey, for instance. The talk show host has made her bunions a subject of discussion on her television show, and her website is chock full of advice on alleviating the condition. (I'd like to add here that O offers some seriously sound information on bunions, including the recommendation to use conservative methods of correction before turning to painful bunion surgery.)

I imagine that all I would need for an Oprah costume is a voluminous wig, a stylish pantsuit with a tiny microphone clipped on the lapel and a charismatic voice that gets the middle-aged women of America worked up into a tizzy over things like books and cupcakes. Perhaps sporting a bunion splint would top off the ensemble.

Victoria Beckham is rumored to have had bunion surgery, but that doesn't rule her out as a candidate for this year's Halloween getup. A Posh Spice costume comes with an added bonus: an excuse to purchase a pair of completely impractical and obnoxiously trendy towering high heels. I'd also need a wig cut into a blunt bob, some skin tight pants, oversized sunglasses and perhaps a baby doll to represent her latest progeny, Harper Seven.

A Sarah Jessica Parker costume would also give me a good reason to head to Barney's. The stylish Sex and the City star is rumored to have bunions, potentially as a result of cruising around Manhattan in Manolo Blahniks. Parker's red carpet style tends to be slightly retro with a modern twist, while on the street, she appears to prefer pegged, boycut jeans with a blazer and high heels.

Bunionella would love to hear from you about your bunion-centric Halloween costume ideas.

What does Tim McGraw like about Faith Hill? A lack of bunions

Adorable crooning couple Tim McGraw and Faith Hill are like the prom king and queen of country music. What if you suddenly found out that one half of the wholesome duo is a potential foot fetishist?

Now, not to be a total gossip queen, but McGraw recently told Regis and Kelly that the first thing that drew him to Hill was her pristinely pedicured feet.

“I was still getting my career going and I saw a picture in Billboard magazine, with her laying on the couch and you could barely see her, but she had the prettiest feet,” McGraw said on the morning talk show. “No corns, no bunions or anything like that!"

Okay, fine, this doesn't exactly mean that the man is a "fetishist," per se, but it certainly drives home the fact that feet can often be a source of attraction. In fact, a Spanish study by researchers at the University of Bologna revealed that feet and toes are the most common fetish of any body part. Moreover, those who were into the tootsies were also very likely to get turned on by footwear, like high heels or knee-high boots.

All of this gossip inspired me to surf the web in search of other celebrities with foot fetishes. Apparently, rappers Big Boi, Ludacris and Cam'ron like to fondle feet, according to the blog Not that shocking if you ask me. Have you heard some of the lyrics these men write? Also unsurprising are rumors that musician Marilyn Manson, burlesque performer Dita von Teese and drummer Tommy Lee have foot fetishes.

However, you may be interested to know that television host Brooke Burke, baseball player Alex Rodriguez, director Quentin Tarantino and actors Jack Black and David Boreanaz are all rumored to be into feet in the bedroom, according to the gossip blog. I also found it quite interesting that the very beautiful, very talented producer and musician Pharrell Williams has a thing for feet.

(Side note: A-Rod, Boreanaz and Williams are welcome to come knocking on Bunionella's door any time.)

Not to speak ill of the dead here, but I've also heard that the great American writer F. Scott Fitzgerald, artist Andy Warhol and Elvis Presley had foot fetishes. We may never know if this is true, but it remains an interesting fact to ponder.

What do your bunions say about you?

Forrest Gump said, "Momma always says there's an awful lot you could tell about a person by their shoes. Where they're going. Where they've been." The lovable character was right, as he was about most things, but the same logic applies to feet.

The Daily Mail reports that Chinese and Indian cultures have embraced the art of foot reading for thousands of years. The idea behind the practice is that you can tell a lot about a person based on the shape and condition of their feet, from personality traits to health issues.

For instance, fallen arches may be the sign of back problems, but also a signal that a person is hard working and perhaps puts too much pressure on themselves at times. Bunions may imply the same thing, according to the Mail. (I know this is true in my case. My sore arches and bony protrusions have nothing to do with shopping for hours on end in stilettos. Nothing, I tell you.)

Maybe this is the pot calling the kettle black, but these UK news sources seem to have a major thing for feet, because The Telegraph has also reported on foot reading. The newspaper's website features an interview with Jane Sheehan, an experienced foot reader.
"The fact is that when you are experiencing strong emotions, your whole body shows it. We're used to the way in which tension, for example, is reflected in the head, or neck, or stomach. But feelings also show up in the feet. Did you know that when you are embarrassed, the neck of your big toe blushes red?" Sheehan told the news source.

Oh my, I thought that was just my bunion!

The foot expert also said that pinched or calloused feet that result from wearing tight shoes day after day probably say a lot about a person, too.

Like what, Sheehan? That we're fabulous? That's what I thought.

Other interesting tidbits mentioned in The Telegraph included the belief that a gap between the second and third toes symbolizes that a person is trying to separate themselves from their emotions. Additionally, Sheehan believes that a twitching fourth toe may signal that you're uncomfortable in your relationship. (Perhaps he's a "Mr. Big" type.)

Skin conditions, discolored or irregular toenails and lumps may all be signs of serious illnesses, so individuals who notice these conditions on their feet should consult with their healthcare provider.  

Bunioned individuals should be aware of risk of falls during Oktoberfest

We've all been there: Celebrating the harvest with a few too many hefeweizens or lagers and the next thing you know, you're tumbling down the stairs of the biergarten.

Alcohol consumption is known not only to affect the brain's ability to avoid falls, but can also hinder a person's gait, making them more susceptible to falls. A recent study conducted by a team of scientists at Neurobehavioral Research found that drinking excessive amounts of alcohol over a long period of time may lead to impaired gait and brain function. However, the research found that alcohol cessation could potentially reverse these negative effects.

This may mean that drinking festivities equal double trouble for people with bunions, as they, too, struggle with maintaining an aligned stride. 

Here are some tips for boozy, bunioned individuals to get through Oktoberfest celebrations and other harvest parties sans bruises and crutches, provided to you by the one-and-only Bunionella and based on personal experience.  

– Drink with a friend, preferably one without bunions. Warn them about your balance issues and that they may need to escort you around the beer hall "Weekend at Bernie's" style.

– Carry a first aid kit to patch up any scraped knees or elbows. Walking around with bloody limbs is sure to be a buzzkill for others and probably won't score you any dates.

– Wear knee pads. Sport the protective gear under tall socks that typically accompany leiderhosen. No one will be the wiser.

– Use a cane. People may just think you're getting into the old-timey spirit of Oktoberfest. Also, they might be too drunk to even notice.

– Be sensible about your footwear. It's tempting to sport a pair of sexy heels when going out drinking, but rarely is this a good idea.

– In the weeks leading up to everyone's favorite German-inspired drinking fests, be sure to wear a bunion splint or orthotics to help correct the pesky deformity at its root.

A blog post on This International Life reports on some of the other injuries that Oktoberfest celebrants are prone to. For one, those heavy beersteins can smack you right in the forehead as you gulp down the last few drops of pilsner. One festival-goer even got blisters on her hand from carrying the heavy mugs.

Finally, it's probably a good idea to practice moderation at these events and always use a designated driver.  

Oprah still won’t accept Bunion Aid intervention

It's no secret that America's favorite talk show queen has some serious bunions. She's talked about them on her show with her in-house medical expert Dr. Oz, and bunion Q&As are featured prominently in the health section of her website.

When the October issue of O Magazine was released, her fans and bunion sympathizers may have done a double take at the sight of her seemingly slim feet gracefully wearing a pair of glittery gold peep-toe pumps. Did she get bunion surgery? Maybe, but probably not. Bloggers on StyleBistro quickly accused Oprah of airbrushing out her bunions, as the television personality has been known as a notorious photoshopper.

"They even retouched her feet to make them look like those of a foot model while her real feet look almost deformed with crooked bunion toes!" according to the blog. StyleBistro commented on the cover after Rosie O'Donnell expressed dismay over looking like the heftier one in the photo.

Previously, in O Magazine, expert Valerie Monroe advised readers to choose bunion surgery only as a last resort option. She said that conservative methods, like using orthotic devices, should be tried before going under the knife.

So, what exactly happened to Oprah's bunions? We may sooner find the remains of Jimmy Hoffa, as O's public relations team tends to be pretty tight-lipped.

However, I do know this much: Alpha Orthotics tried to intervene and save Oprah from her bony deformities in March, 2010. After hearing about a walk the television host was planning in celebration of the 10th anniversary of her magazine, Gaby Federal, president of Alpha Orthotics, mailed her a Bunion Aid splint and a letter advising Oprah to wear the device for a half hour each day during the month leading up to the Live Your Best Life Walk.

We don't know if Oprah ever took the well-meaning advice, but had she done so, she'd have a good comeback for the StyleBistro bloggers.

Here's one more plea to everyone's favorite daytime host: Oprah, we know you are a busy, busy lady and while you likely have the funds for bunion surgery, you probably can't spare the healing time. The Bunion Aid features an award-winning hinged design to allow you a certain degree of mobility while you correct those bunions. Perhaps if you do, you will one day be able to parade your bare feet in front of the paparazzi and proclaim, "I am bunion-free!"