Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/143

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

be broken and look stubby, like a laboring man's he has small cases made, I believe, of ivory or some fancy wood, to draw on over those prolonged nails and preserve them intact.

Americans do not seem to be quite so anxious to prove to the outside world that they are incapable of walking, or of manual labor, as the Chinese, but they are extremely desirous of looking chic, smart and up-to-date, and we have seemingly as great a horror of feet which have grown to their natural size, as the celestials. We uniformly buy our shoes from a size to a size and a half too small for us. We do not realize that our feet should spread, not the toes alone, but the whole foot, like an animal's paw, with every step we take. Why we have the insane delusion that our feet should be small, out of all proportion to our bodies, no one so far as I know can explain. Orators have praised small feet, and poets have sung to them. Fashion plates have depicted them and lovers have sighed for them, and really from want of proper use, from compression and from the consequent arrested development because of their being encased in unyielding leather boxes from early childhood, our feet are much smaller in proportion to our size and weight than they should be. But this is not all. By reason of the absurd pointed-toe shoes, which men and women both wear, man is becoming practically a unidactylous animal. That means that we cultivate our great toes and let all the others atrophy for want of use, when they are not doubled up or twisted over each other so that standing on the feet for any length of time, not to mention walking, is exceedingly painful and sometimes impossible. In these cases the pointed shoes have been adopted after the smaller toes have grown somewhat, and like those of the unfortunate Chinese girls, they must be crowded out of the way, for no genteel person in either China or America can afford to have the toes spread out as nature intended them to be. Often, however, the pointed shoes have been worn in early childhood and the poor little toes, in consequence, have never developed, and are only rudiments of what they should be. In the classical foot the second toe is longer than the first, the third toe is the same length as the first and the fourth and fifth toes are well shaped and free from corns and spread out and take good hold of the ground when the person to whom they belong is walking. This is an exceedingly important point. Our toes should spread apart, as said before, like an animal's paws when we put our weight on the forward part of the foot in stepping out with the other foot.

There should be plenty of room in the shoe for the toes to do this, and it is largely because the toes are so tightly confined in pointed shoes and can not spread out that Americans are such poor walkers. The ridiculous high heels are unsightly and injurious and make walking difficult, yet they do not deform the foot, the most beautiful and