It's something I like to refer to as Cinderella syndrome: when ladies squeeze their bunions into itty-bitty shoes in an effort to minimize the appearance of their perhaps larger-than-normal feet. It's a sneaky tactic, and one that can be painful and make conditions like bunions and hammer toe worse.
But the shoe companies may be one step ahead of you, as the Daily Mail recently reported that manufacturers are beginning to see the value in vanity sizing. (Don't pretend you don't know what vanity sizing is – You didn't actually think you were a dress size 4, did you?) It turns out that shoemakers have been secretly widening their shoes for years as the population gets fatter, according to the news source.
"It is often just a fraction larger, but we need to do it to accommodate larger feet now," Jane Winkworth, founder of shoe company French Sole, told the Daily Mail. "It has to be very gradual of course, and we do not increase the sizes overnight. But I will often go to my shoemakers in Spain or France and tell them our customers are finding these ones a bit tight on what we call their 'bunion joints.'"
This means that you may be wrong in your insistence that your bunions are under control because you've been wearing the same size of the same brand for years. It's time to stop the denial and invest in some bunion splints, honey.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons reports that wearing shoes that are too tight may make bunions or hammer toe worse, since the phalanges and forefoot end up squished into a tiny toe box. So, if you have an old pair of favorites that are becoming too small for your bunions, you'll need to fix that.
TheHairpin.com gives step-by-step instructions on how to make your teensy footwear fit like Cinderella's slipper using little more than a sealable bag of water and your freezer.
First, fill two bags halfway with water then seal them. Stick them in the forefoot of your shoes, and place them in the freezer. As the water becomes a solid, it expands, making room for your bunions. When you take them out, put them on for a few hours to let them warm and mold to your feet.
Another trick that may work if your shoes are made of synthetic materials is heating up the forefoot with a blow dryer before putting them on and letting the faux leather set to the shape of your feet. Be careful not to burn your bunions by testing the temperature of the shoes with the back of your hand.