Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/144

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exquisitely designed of all our organs except our hands, to the same extent as do the short and pointed shoes so commonly worn.

So far as walking for any distance is concerned, no American expects to do that. It is because the feet are so undeveloped and their ligaments and muscles are so weak, that so many people suffer with flat feet or with weak arches. So that now, all the shoemakers are putting steel arch supporters in the shoes. This is about as sensible as it would be to support a weak arm by binding it up in splints and making it immovable, hoping that if it could not be raised, it would gradually grow strong and robust. Even a shoemaker would laugh at such a method of making a child's arm strong, and yet he boasts that he makes a weak arch strong by preventing it from taking its natural exercise. The arch of the foot must go down whenever one bears his weight upon it, and the foot must spread out. For long tramps nothing could be more painful than shoes with metal arch supporters in them. Like all these attempts to interfere with nature's methods, of which man, not to say woman, has ever been guilty, wearing arch supporters may be a cause of terrible suffering, if one has to walk any distance with them in his shoes or boots.

Of course if people walk very little, they can endure the arch supporters, just as the women endure the high heels. It would seem that ordinary boots and shoes are not made to walk in, but to look at, or perhaps to ride in.

I knew a Hebrew gentleman on the frontier who sold a man a pair of riding boots. In a few days, the purchaser of the boots came back complaining that the seams of his new boots had burst out, whereupon my Semitic friend, with a look of mingled horror and surprise, broke out with, "Why my frent, you didn'd valk in dose boots, did you? Dose was not valking boots, dey was riding boots." I often think of this occurrence when I see women trying to walk with Cuban heels and shoes far too short and too narrow for them. That their gait is singularly stilted and ungraceful every one knows, yet how they manage to walk as well as they do is surprising. I can nearly always tell by a woman's gait whether she is wearing shoes that really fit her or not. A woman properly shod may and often does show the queenly dignity and lissome grace which should characterize the most graceful of God's creatures. However, as an old walker myself I have to say that for good walking the human foot and ankle need a more thorough development than they are now allowed to attain. Every one of the ten toes should be allowed to grow to its proper size and should exert its due pressure on the ground when we walk, jump or run. The natural foot is a perfect arch, and its two columns the ball of the foot and the heel should be on an exact level, which means that the heel of the shoe should not be over a half inch in height. The heel of the shoe