Students get a chance to design shoes for Kate Middleton

 

I knew I should have married a prince, and Kate Middleton just keeps rubbing it in my face how very lucky she is. Recently, People Magazine reported that there is a design contest among students from De Montfort University in Leicester, England in which the young designers will get the chance to have their creations chosen and worn by the Duchess herself.

It's something that is beyond even my wildest dreams: Young fashion designers vying for my attention and eschewing their own personal tastes to suit my own. Sigh. I wonder if young Harry is still available. I've always liked redheads. But I digress!

There are six contestants who have sketched out designs of their footwear for the Duchess, ranging from regal to girly to tartan-inspired. One designer drew inspiration from Middleton's diamond-encircled sapphire engagement ring and her lacy wedding gown.

Kevin Guiford, head of the university's footwear design program, said that the royals specifically asked for the young students to create a pair of shoes for the Duchess in honor of Queen Elizabeth's 60th year as the UK's symbolic head of state.

"We were thrilled when the palace asked for six designs for the Duchess to choose from," said Guildford, quoted by People Magazine. "It's the most fabulous opportunity for the students who couldn't hope for a bigger fashion icon to endorse their designs."

People magazine features the designers and their footwear sketches. While some are certainly beautiful and creative, I have a feeling Kate will choose the most classic design. Not that I know her personally or anything – though one can dream – but judging by her choice of wedding shoes, I just have a hunch. The Huffington Post reported that Middleton wore ivory duchesse satin shoes with a lace overlay as she walked down the aisle.

Things that her royal connections and good looks can't protect her from include bunions and hammer toe. With all of the high heels she wears trotting about the globe, it's a wonder the princess doesn't already have bony foot conditions. Luckily, she may be able to avoid these deformities or correct them without bunion surgery by using bunion splints or orthotics. 

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Celebrities conceal their bunions under floor-sweeping gowns at 2012 Oscars

I expected the 2012 Academy Awards to be the climax of award season fashions, as they usually are. So imagine my disappointment when, after kicking back with a glass of chardonnay and strapping on my bunion splints, I saw nothing but floor-sweeping gowns walking the red carpet, concealing the designer-made footwear.

Well, at least Angelina Jolie did it right in a voluminous black velvet Versace gown with a thigh-high slit that revealed just one leg and a pair of black peep-toe pumps. The actress wasn't recognized by the fashionista bible Vogue, but was named best-dressed by The New Yorker's Judith Thurman.

"That is more like it: something to die for! She resembled Sargent’s Madame X," Thurman wrote.

If Jolie was the black swan of the evening, then Gwyneth Paltrow was her counterpart, donning a white Tom Ford column sheath with an asymmetrical neckline and sculptured cap sleeves – not to mention a rather puzzling cape and Jimmy Choo shoes.

Personally, I favored Jessica Chastain's black and gold baroque-style gown from Alexander McQueen. Also, Vogue tells me that she wore Brian Atwood shoes, though you'd never know it from the photos. Luckily, the dress is gorgeous enough for me to forget about the shoes, which is something I never thought I'd say.

Melissa McCarthy also wore Brian Atwood pumps, and these we saw during a segment in which she hoists her foot up on the wall in an effort to seduce the show's host, Billy Crystal. The silver, sparkling peep-toed heels made my bunions ache just looking at them, but my heart was warmed by her revelation that she and Atwood were childhood friends in suburban Illinois.

McCarthy's Bridesmaids co-star Rose Byrne also went the peep-toe route, donning head-to-toe black in a one-shouldered sequined Vivienne Westwood gown. In the photo featured in Vogue, it looks as though her toes are overlapping her shoes – could someone have bunions?

You may have noticed that Halle Berry was missing from the ceremony. Well, E! Online reports that the Oscar-winning actress was absent due to a broken foot, which she reportedly sustained chasing her daughter Nahla, who was scampering after a goat while the two were on vacation in Spain last fall  – a likely story.

Any celebs who are dealing with the pain of bunions, hammer toe or bunion surgery (I'm looking at you, Berry) should consider using bunion splints or orthotics as a conservative means of bunion correction or to promote proper healing following an operation.
 

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High heels aren’t the only fashionable health hazard

 

I've lamented many times on this site about how my beloved high heels make my bunions and arches ache, and now it appears as though medical experts have taken aim at some of my other closet staples. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) recently reported that skinny jeans, cinched belts and control-top pantyhose may also be a threat to my health.

Apparently, doctors just won't be happy until I'm left schlepping around in loafers and mom jeans, because the news source spoke with a number of experts about how certain clothing items can lead to potentially serious or painful conditions.

According to the WSJ, one woman experienced pain and numbness from her pelvis to her knee, and a neurologist told her that her cinched belts were the cause. Evidently, these waist-slimmers can pinch a major nerve that extends from the abdomen to the outer thigh, resulting in a condition known as meralgia paresthetica.

The woman's pain was alleviated by simply loosening her belt, the article's author, Melinda Black, reported. The writer went on to check skinny jeans off the list of health-conscious clothing.

Tight denim can compress nerves in the legs and interfere with the digestive system. This problem used to be one that more commonly affected aging men who were in denial about their true pant size, but now the issue touches a younger and more fashionable crowd with the popularity of skin-tight jeans.

I can also say bye-bye to Spanx, which are possibly the greatest invention ever. These slimming undergarments appear to pose the same risks as skinny jeans, as they squish your organs to oblivion.

Let's see, what else is Black ruining for me? Oh, oversized handbags? Evidently, carrying these huge accessories has a tendency to throw the spine out of alignment, leading to back and shoulder pain.

And we all should know by now what those lovely leg-lengthening high heels are doing to our feet. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons reports that towering footwear can exacerbate bunions, hammer toe and fallen arches.

Luckily, I have my own effective weapons against these foot conditions: bunion splints and orthotics. The devices help me steer clear of painful bunion surgery, which can result in scarring or recurrence of bony deformities.
 

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TOMS wants you to bear your bunions for a good cause

 

Philanthropic shoe company TOMS has become wildly popular among the public with its simple canvas flats and a promise to donate a shoes to a needy child each time a customer purchases a pair. Now, the shoemakers are calling for people to kick off their shoes on April 10 to spread awareness about the lack of footwear in underdeveloped nations and the risks that this can pose for people.

Well, I'm not exactly thrilled about showing the world my bunions, but I'm considering it after hearing that walking around sans shoes can lead to totally gross bacterial and parasitic infections, such as podoconiosis, hookworm and jiggers.

Bonus: Apparently I can jump on the TOMS bandwagon without giving up heels. The brand features 3.25-inch wedge heels in a number of colors and fabrics, in addition to their original styles.

This is making me feel more than a touch guilty about the array of extravagant shoes in my closet. After doing some reading about the association between foot conditions and poverty, I found that I have something in common with these unfortunate individuals, as they appear to experience bunions at a disproportionate rate.

According to a report in the Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association, bunions commonly affect homeless people. This is likely because their shoes provide poor arch support, which is known to exacerbate bony deformities. The article stresses improved podiatric care for individuals living in poverty, since many foot conditions can make it painful to get around and therefore make finding and retaining a job more difficult.

"This study is significant because it validates the issue that homeless populations are at a higher risk in developing lower-extremity pathologies, and that this issue poses both an economic and public health concern," according to researchers from the California School of Podiatric Medicine.

Perhaps it's time to start donating supportive footwear, bunion splints and orthotics to the homeless in addition to canned goods and clothing. Healthy feet are known to promote mobility and allow individuals to remain active in the community. Conversely, foot conditions can hold people back from working and even getting around without great difficulty.

I'll make my own TOMS-worthy pledge: For every pair of Louboutins or Manolos that I buy myself, I'll donate supportive foot devices to my local homeless shelter. What will you do, dear reader?

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Convertible shoes give me lots of options and are easy on bunions

 

It's no secret that the pleasure of having great looking gams does little to ease the pain that high heels cause, especially for those of us with bunions or hammer toe. As such, I often find myself lugging around a pair of flats in my bag, which I've found to be inconvenient and unsanitary.

After a recent traumatizing experience in which I discovered that a piece of chewed gum had made its way from the sidewalk, to the bottom of my flat, to the lining of my Marc Jacobs bag, I decided to explore shoe alternatives. I came across a few examples of convertible shoes, which can go from three-inch heels to flats in seconds.

One brand is Day2Night Convertible Heels. Each pair of footwear comes with a case of heels at different heights, kind of like a set of drill bits, only more appealing. The soles are flexible to enable the shoes to go from towering to conservative and the product website touts a sturdy, "foolproof" design. They don't come cheap, at about $300 per pair, but the classic Marissa model – a black patent leather peep-toe slingback – is versatile enough to wear with almost any outfit.

Then there's Sheila's Heels, a brand of footwear developed by an insurance company. These convertible shoes were created after the business found that many women wear inappropriate footwear – such as towering heels – while driving, which presents a hazard. These black and pink pointy-toed shoes have a heel that can fold into the sole of the shoe, making an easy transition from heel to flat and vice versa.

Most recently, a University of Missouri student won an entrepreneurial competition for her invention of a pair of shoes that can go from a 3.5-inch stiletto to a half-inch kitten heel. The college senior, Jessica Cui, told the school's newspaper, The Maneater, about how she conceived the idea.

"We generally carry around another pair of shoes, have to awkwardly change in front of the places we visit, and often carry around Band-Aids. I just figured there was surely something that could make our lives easier. That's when I decided I was going to fix the problem," Cui said, quoted by the news source.

Ladies who can't part with their favorite brands in exchange for a more sensible option may want to consider using bunion splints or orthotics, which can help reduce the appearance of bony foot conditions without the need for bunion surgery.
 

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Bunionella gets ready for spring break with bunion correction

 

Each year, I pack up my suitcases full of my favorite strappy sandals, colorful platforms, swimsuits and sarongs and head south with the college co-eds for spring break. You might be raising an eyebrow, dear reader, as you know well that I am in an age group more often associated with bunions than keg parties, but judge not, lest ye be judged.

Destinations like Cancun are packed with toned, oiled up men who are ready to party, not to mention some of the best, most generous bartenders on the planet. So, why should I let my age get in the way of having a little spring break fun? I will say that baring my bunions and hammer toe in front of these 20-somethings does make me a touch uneasy, which is why I have a stringent pre-vacation foot grooming regimen.

The most important part of this routine is wearing bunion splints every night while having a glass of Merlot, which gently eases my foot pain. After a particularly stressful day, I'll also ice the bony bugger to alleviate inflammation and discomfort.

As for my hammer toes, I find that they become less noticeable when I remember to use my orthotics every night. I've discovered that the pricey custom varieties aren't really worth the price tag, which is roughly $300, depending on your podiatrist. My favorites are the Splayfoot Hammer Toe Insoles by Alpha Orthotics, because they allow me to adjust which areas of my foot receive support with a removable foot pad.

The trouble with bony deformities – aside from the obvious – is that they tend to develop calluses as a result of rubbing against shoes all day. While these rough patches of skin are protective to an extent and should not be sanded away too often, it is a good idea to exfoliate them every now and then if you want pretty feet.

Begin by soaking your feet in warm, soapy water for 20 minutes or so before taking a pumice stone and gently exfoliating dead skin away in a circular motion. Rinse and dry your feet before applying a thick moisturizer to toes, heels and bunions.

You may also want to consider getting a professional pedicure. You don't have to be self-conscious in front of these spa professionals – they've surely seen much worse – and polished toes can take the eye's focus off bony deformities.
 

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The 2012 Grammy Awards surely satisfied my need for shoe porn

 

The Grammys may be as good as it gets when it comes to watching crazy fashions waltz down the red carpet, and this year was no exception. On Feb. 12, I poured myself a Cosmo, strapped on my bunion splints, kicked up my heels and turned on the tube to see what the likes of Lady Gaga and Rihanna would come up with for the awards ceremony.

Always the showstopper, Gaga stepped out of her limo in a futuristic femme fatale getup, complete with a gold cane and head-to-toe sequined netting. Actually, for Ms. Germanotta, the look was quite demure and understated.

Rihanna looked stunning in a black Armani gown that bared her back, plunged in the front and featured a thigh-high slit to show off her toned legs. Her shoes were something I – and my fellow ladies with bunions – could only dream of wearing, as they featured a very tiny, pointy cap toe and clear plastic over the heel. If I were to wear those, it would look like my feet were turning into the Incredible Hulk.

Let's talk about Swedish dance-pop star Robyn's footwear for a second. She's a lovely girl, she truly is. But what on God's green Earth was going on below her ankles? Robyn wore flatform construction boots. You heard me: leather Caterpillar boots with a good three-inch flatform – not a platform, mind you, but a straight platform from toe to heel. They were so hideous that I almost forgot to mention that she wore what appeared to be a men's white t-shirt with a satin mullet skirt, that's short in the front, and long in the back, for those of you who don't know. I can't even…let's just move on.

Taylor Swift looked more grown-up than I've ever seen her, almost like a young Nicole Kidman. She donned a gorgeous gold beaded gown with a sheer mesh panel on the décolletage area, and paired it with simple metallic t-strap heels. I must say, however, that her stylist could have done a much better job finding shoes that fit, as it appeared that her big toe was hanging off the front of the platform. The girl may be young, but she can still develop bunions that way.
 

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Blogger sparks my lust for spring shoe shopping

 

As if I wasn't already salivating over the spring 2012 collections enough, a writer for UK news source The Guardian had to go and blog about her love of shoes and introduce me to a British website that features the trendiest of bunion-inducing heels.

Reading this article by a mystery blogger nicknamed Invisible Woman almost made me tear up, and surely made my bunions twinge. She describes so eloquently how shoes can not only make the woman, but give hints about who she is and where she's been.

"Shoes inspire passion and films, are fetishized, cause fights, spark misty-eyed reminiscence, they serve as a drinking vessel, an ashtray, a murder weapon or a piece of art and, above all, can make or break your day, your evening, your heart, your life," the Invisible Woman wrote. "Am I overstating the power of shoes? No, I don't think so."

When it comes to shoes, the thrill of the hunt and satisfaction of the find are well-understood by this nameless writer. She describes a particularly special pair of Fendi sandals, which were navy suede and fit like a dream.

"I lived on baked beans for a month to buy them and I love them still in their bright yellow Fendi box. More importantly, they are comfortable. I can wear them all evening and not feel a single solitary twinge from a bunion or fallen arch," she wrote.

Her article included a link to a website called NewLook.com, which, of course, I was unable to resist clicking on. It led me to a haven of wedges, stilettos and pumps, not to mention some more sensible styles, such as ballet slippers and oxfords.

This woman also knows a thing or two about comfort when wearing high heels, as she recommended using gel inserts in footwear that causes foot pain.

Ladies' Home Journal also offers some tips on staying comfortable in heels. First, the news source wisely recommends choosing shoes that fit well and have cushioning on the ball of the foot. Additionally, it recommends looking for styles with round toes and a moderate heel.

Bunion correction may also help you fit into the hottest spring styles and keep wearing them all day long. Luckily, there's no need to resort to painful, costly bunion surgery, as bunion splints and orthotics have been shown to reduce the appearance of bunions or hammer toe sans scalpel.
 

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What do the latest sneaker trends mean for your bunions?

 

Perhaps it has something to do with a shifting trend toward comfort, but I've been noticing that young fashionistas on the streets have started pairing their skinny jeans with puffy-looking high tops rather than towering stilettos lately. This footwear looks straight out of the 1980s, complete with Velcro straps and clashing colors.

Personally, I think they're quite hideous. On the flip side, they look mighty comfortable. Maybe the kids are on to something.

An article in CultureMap Houston reports on one specific pair of shoes that the young and fashionable appear to be scrambling for, despite a $750 price tag. The Willow sneaker by Isabel Marant is the hot new shoe trend, according to blogger Annina Stefanelli, who began considering more comfortable footwear after having a bunion scare.

The writer discovered that the risk of developing a bunion can be reduced by trading in stilettos for a more sensible option, and thus began her hunt for Willow, an elusive sneaker for which she was put on a seven page-long waiting list to obtain.

Still unsure of whether she could fully get on board with the aesthetic aspect of the shoe, Stefanelli conceded that at least they may keep bunions at bay.

"I'm almost sure this trend is a blessing in disguise. Perhaps it's time to give my feet a break, wear a hideous comfortable shoe for a few months, and be bunion-free for the summer sandals," she wrote.

Elle magazine has also recently touted Isabel Marant sneakers, featuring a slideshow of chic New Yorkers sporting the shoes with narrow jeans and voluminous coats.

Unsure of whether I could pull off this particular brand of high tops, I took to Polyvore.com to browse other options. Apparently, many luxury brands are hopping on the sneaker bandwagon, including Juicy Couture, Miu Miu, Burberry and Alexander Wang.

I think the Burberrys are my favorites, thought they'll set me back a cool $395. These multi-toned cognac high tops rise just above the ankle and feature a patch of the signature Burberry plaid on the back of the heel.

But don't think this means I'm giving up on my beloved high heels. Oh, no. But by sporting these comfy shoes from time to time and using bunion splints and orthotics, I'm able to keep my bunions and hammer toe in check so that I can bare my toes all summer long.

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Fat kids are getting hurt and developing bunions – is it time for an intervention?

 

Lately, I've been thinking about the plight of the nation's overweight children, who are developing conditions – such as overuse injuries and bunions – normally seen in adults, as a result of their excess weight. It's so depressing that I'm considering volunteering as a coach for a kids' softball league. (No, this has nothing to do with the cute single dad in the neighborhood who I have my eye on.)

At any rate, an article in Family Practice News describes how recommendations for obese or overweight children to get more exercise are backfiring, as these kids are often getting active for the first time and stressing their bones and muscles.

"Obese youth are being told to 'just start jogging,' and a few weeks later they’re ending up in my sports medicine clinic. And they’re already defeated," said Paul Stricker, a past president of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, quoted by the news source.

The sports medicine doctor recommended that overweight or obese children begin working out with low-impact activities, such as biking, swimming, walking or strength training.

Imbalanced biomechanics are thought to play a big part in why kids are getting hurt while exercising. Weak leg muscles and inflexible tendons mean that other parts of the body need to compensate, and they often do so in a way that stresses the knees and other joints.

Stricker said that overweight kids also tend to pronate when they walk because of fallen arches. The physician recommends over-the-counter orthotics to correct this imbalance and provide arch support.

The association between foot pain and excess body fat is well-established, as one appears to exacerbate the other. People who carry too much weight often feel it in their lower extremities, and this discomfort sometimes keeps them from engaging in the exercise needed to lose weight.

As a result, overweight or obese kids may also begin to develop bunions or hammer toe, even though the deformities are more common among adults. According to Children's Hospital Boston, girls between the ages of 10 and 15 are among the most at-risk kids when it comes to bunions.

In addition to teaching boys and girls the proper way to exercise, parents may want to consider bunion splints or orthotics for their overweight or obese kids. These devices may help chubby kids avoid painful bunion surgery in the future, as well as improve their biomechanics.
 

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