Size 8 Is the New 7: Why Our Feet Are Getting Bigger

  • Share
  • Read Later
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Premiere Screening of FX's "American Horror Story: Asylum" at the Paramount Theatre on October 13, 2012 in Hollywood, California.

Bad news: Our shoes aren’t getting smaller. Our feet are getting bigger. According to a new report by the National Shoe Retailers Association cited in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the average woman’s foot has grown by more than a size over the last three decades.

(MORE: The Real Truth About The Female Body)

The human body is constantly evolving, and as nutrition for people in the western world has increased (as has acccess to high-calorie junk food), so have body sizes.  At the beginning of the 20th century the average woman wore a size 3.5 or size 4 shoe. This increased to a 5.5 in the forties and remained this way till the 60s. By the 1970s, the average female foot was a 7.5 and now, forty years later, the most common foot size for the American female is somewhere between an 8 ½ and a 9.

“People are getting taller and heavier, as they have for generation after generation,”Podiatric historian William Rossi told the lifestyle blog Divine Caroline. “And their feet are getting larger in proportion to their bodies.”

It’s not just a U.S. phenomenon. The U.K. tabloid Daily Mail recently reported that the average size of British women’s feet has grown noticeably over the past five years and attribute the growth to changes in diet and an increase in obesity. The newspaper reports that “medical experts believe that eating high-density foods such as pizza and processed foods during puberty stimulates the growth hormone.” As British podiatrist Matthew Fitzpatrick explained to the BBC, children’s soft and supple bones can grow and spread under excess weight. “When you are young the bones in your body haven’t hardened. So if you’ve got a foot in which the bones are still forming and an excessively heavy child putting the weight on that foot, the arch [of the foot] flattens.”

(MORE: Study: Obese Kids Have Less Sensitive Taste Buds)

The question is, how do women feel about this increase in size of their feet? Many loathe the thought of going shoe-shopping, held back by the embarrassment of buying large, masculine-looking shoes. Stores often fail to stock shoes at the upper end of the curve, reports divinecaroline.com. Women subsequently buy smaller shoe sizes out of embarrassment, which can result in foot pain and injuries.

Nevertheless, people will have to learn how to live with the bodies they were born with; few women, we’d imagine, would want to go back to traditions like the excruciatingly painful foot binding of imperial China. But with celebrity role models such as Kate Winslet (shoe size 11), Evangeline Lilly (size 10 t0 11) and Rhianna (size 9), women might be encouraged to embrace their larger feet. Thankfully, there’s an end in sight, so don’t worry that future generations of women will have to trade in their Blahniks for a pair of clown shoes. While feet will continue to grow in the coming decades, explains Rossi, they will eventually reach a point when “nature says enough.”
28 comments
ConstanceN.Smith
ConstanceN.Smith

I'm 5'4" and wear a 9.5-10. My father was 5'7" and wore a size 8 in men's shoes. My mother and younger sister are about 5'2" and wear 7.5-8. I'm a weirdo. I've had this size shoe and normal arches since I was about 14, and I was not an obese child! I'm pretty proud of my big feet! They look like small next to my husband's size 13 though!

KerryEThorne
KerryEThorne

I wear a size 10 wide and I am 5'7. Its been that same size since I was 15. I'm not ashamed or embarrassed. You need a good solid foundation to build on!

BetsyBoss
BetsyBoss

Damn I'm 5'7 and still only a size 7 XD the doctors say I will keep growing though so I do not know If that is the final size. I feel like I could use being an 8, so I can wear high heels easier.

DanielleMarie
DanielleMarie

I'm not embarassed by my shoe size at all. This is something I have never understood, at least from an American standpoint in 2014. I wear a size 12 and I am proud of it. Yes, it can be a challenge to find shoes sometimes, but I by no means think my feet look masculine. I think they suit my 5'10 large frame quite well. Embrace your large feet and the shoe companies will too!

SarahSherman
SarahSherman

I was always embarrassed when people commented on my shoes because I felt my size 7 was too big for a person who is 5'4. This makes me feel a little better. But I think when you are only 105lbs your feet are going to appear bigger just because your skinny.  The article states models and celebrities have large feet but I bet they are really tall too so it would even out. 

JenniferLynnNohr
JenniferLynnNohr

It seems the stores are always out of my size, 6.5. If the average is an 8 or 9, why are the smaller sizes always gone. 

boromeo66
boromeo66

As a foot fetishist ,  , I welcome that , i mean more to love lol, my ex girlfriend had a size 12 :)

briannalax1989
briannalax1989

One thing the article doesn't mention is just a few decades ago (oh, about 3 decades ago) women still thought a small foot was a sign of beauty in the US. Women who truly wore a 8 were trying to stuff their feet in size 6 shoes because society told them to do it. All those "old" ladies all have foot problems now, hammer toes, bunions you name it for wearing shoes that were too small. I used to work at a shoe store and I would say 9 is likely the most purchased size now because we couldn't keep that size in stock.

Fmaga
Fmaga

The point isn't the women embrace their large feet, but the SHOE INDUSTRY. I've long feet and I get depressed any time I've to buy shoes. There's nothing available in the shops. The speciallized shops not only have weird style pairs, but mostof them are normal shoes made longer which HURTS a lot, being non orthopedical. Hey? Wear sneakers, one might say. Yep...only available men sizes that do not fit properly, since men have wider shoes...so, as results, many painful corns.

To me it sounds a lot like embracing having to deal with the lack of product available on the market.

Btw...i quit pro ballet because there was no pointy ballet shoes existent on my size. I suppose many other girls had to quit their dreams because of that too.

Dane_Youssef
Dane_Youssef

WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT GIRLS WITH BIG FEET... 

by Dane Youssef


Yes, I think I have a knowledge of what you're all going through. 

I have taken ballet for several years now and many of the women dancers there constantly go on (too much, im my opinion) with their feet. 

The size, the damage that comes from dancing. How hard it is to find pointe shoes that fit and the damage they cause once you do. 

But I just wanna chime in MY two cents about the whole "woman with man foot epidemic" going on here... 

Now, now ladies... before you get too angry and frustrated about what God gave you... 

While they may not be considered "aesthetically pleasing," they do ACTUALLY serve a purpose. 

Yes, there is a functional side. 

Take this to heart, ladies... 


* Big feet give you secure footing. Like a tree with very deep roots. You don't fall, slip or trip over so easily. 

* Big feet give you athletic ability. To run and anchor you firmly in place. 

* Size DOES matter. But believe me, the majority of men don't really give a damn about size down there(and if they do--they're into it). 

* Big feet help you kick ass. So the next time some schmuck behind a counter gives you a hard time for your feet, clobber them with one. 

* Big feet ARE more functional than fashionable. But DON'T be afraid to paint your nails, wear sandals, get pedicures and run barefoot on the beach. 

* The ballsiest women in the world have feet bigger than they are--Kate Winslet, Neve Campbell, Whoopi Goldberg, Paris Hilton, Geena Davis, Uma Thurman. 

....and it's not a coincidence. 


And these women are so strong because they can hold their own with the men. Their roots run as deep. 

So look down at your feet (or rather up) and say, "I love who I am. I love the way I was made." And let a tear flow. 

--Sincerely yours, Dane R. Youssef

William Gaule
William Gaule

Evolutionary changes are anything but rapid ...

Leonie Lynn
Leonie Lynn

Bull... they are making shoes smaller

與愛和平
與愛和平

Evolution is a hoax, there is no such thing as missing links.

Saurabh Shinde
Saurabh Shinde

@Michael Let's set a standard for it like everything else.

Sam Busiello
Sam Busiello

Thank god! I can never find shoes my size!!! (size 9 since I was 13)

Roger Layton
Roger Layton

Michele Obama will have to do something about that immediately.

Mehdi Zad
Mehdi Zad

in the first line there's a mistyping, "Our feet our getting bigger"!

BetsyBoss
BetsyBoss

@SarahSherman size 7 is completely average feet don't even worry. I was a size 7 since I was 5'1 and now Im 5'7. 

DanielleMarie
DanielleMarie

@Fmaga What size do you wear? Nordstrom BP shoes are affordable and go up to 12s. Some brands (although they will be more expensive probably) go up to 14 in women's. I get all of my shoes at Nordstrom! (I'm a size 12 in dress shoes, 13 in exercise shoes)

LLXLLQ
LLXLLQ

@Leonie Lynn We are making beautiful and comfortable shoes larger. Visit us at www.llxllq.com - size 10-12 handmade Italian shoes. 

DanielleMarie
DanielleMarie

That's because your size is the most popular! I wear a size 12 and have since I was 12 years old. It is a challenge but not impossible!