Feet. At best, they can look “healthy” (I’d never call feet pretty) but when neglected feet can get pretty gnarly. Growing up, I noticed that some people’s second toe was longer than their big toe (especially my cousins). For a time, that made me think I was a freak for having a big toe that’s longer than my second toe. I also noticed that my siblings had chubby looking feet with completely different nail-beds in comparison to mine. For the record, my siblings are skinny but have chubby feet (think along the lines of cherub feet, all fleshy and cute) whereas I am actually over-weight (plus-size, etc…) but my feet are not chubby in the least. My younger brother teased me about it once saying they all had cute chubby feet whereas mine were ugly. Obviously I had to respond so I made something up about how people with feet that looked like mine (not chubby) can be foot models (model footwear), as opposed to people with chubby feet. I was only making it up but my older sister said that it was in fact true, shocking both my younger brother and I. Just to be clear, I was only joking around because as far as I’m concerned, feet are feet. They just get you from point A to point B. That said, the way feet look can tell you a lot about a person. As a matter of fact, it’s one of the first things I notice in a person; the state of their shoes and if visible, their feet. The state of someone’s feet (and by extension, their shoes) lets me know whether this person is big on grooming and hygiene or if it’s all just for show. As for myself, before I got calluses, I used The Body Shop Peppermint Foot Scrub together with a pumice stone regularly, to maintain my feet. I believe the act of painting one’s toes is the epitome of femininity but I’m pretty much hopeless when it comes to painting my nails so I go for the occasional pedicure instead which is actually a nightmare because I can’t stand it when anyone touches my feet as I get tickled very easily (to this day).
When I first got calluses (a thickened and hardened part of the skin), I was so scared because it was very painful to walk and I didn’t realize what the problem was. I thought I had contracted some serious skin disease that was going to spread up to my legs, petrify them, and immobilize me for life (I have an imagination, and I run with it). Eventually, I figured it out and even pin-pointed the cause. I’ve mentioned that I’m over-weight several times on my blog already but the truth is my weight actually yo-yos as it’s linked to how I feel. If I’m sad or stressed out, I lose weight almost instantly (to the extent that my ribs will start to show) whereas if I’m happy and content, I’ll gain weight just as fast pretty much ballooning in size in a little under 2 weeks. I’m not a food-y, though. I prefer to drink my calories. Anything high in sugar content like soda (Pepsi, Sprite, Fanta, etc…) will do. During a particular period when my weight had increased significantly, I developed 3 calluses on each foot; on the lower outer corner of my big toe, on the ball of the foot beneath the second toe, and on the ball of the foot beneath the fifth toe. I’ve inserted a picture that I’ve altered (mad skillz, right? Banksy who?) so you can better understand what I’m talking about. The pink part is supposed to show the calloused areas. It’s not the best picture I could find but I was literally gagging after googling images of calluses so I just chose a drawing instead. I’m so thankful that my calluses are practically invisible as opposed to the gnarly pictures I saw courtesy of google. As you can see in the picture (I tried to be as accurate as possible) the calluses are not big but they do run deep (just the middle one) which makes walking super painful. The main reason why I developed calluses was because even though my weight had changed, my footwear had not. I still wore back-breaking heels but because I was over-weight, the pressure on my feet (which were mostly jammed into high-heels) increased significantly causing my feet to slide forward in my footwear when walking, or even just standing. The increase in weight flattened my feet as well causing the sides of my footwear to pinch the skin. The friction due to the constant rubbing against the wood (no insole) as I kept sliding forward in the sandals because of my increased weight caused the middle (biggest and most painful out of all 3 calluses) to develop. It wasn’t just the high-heels that were a problem. Any kind of footwear without a proper insole caused friction, especially when worn over a long period of time.
I was walking home with a big group of people (while on summer vacation abroad) and even though I was wearing flat thong sandals, my feet felt like they were on fire, to the extent that I was seriously debating walking the rest of the way home barefoot. That was the first time I noticed the calluses because after that incident, I could never walk barefoot (at home) anymore as it just hurt too much. Even a few months later, when I was enrolled in my first year of college, and I was wearing high-heeled slides like the one shown in the picture above (courtesy of google) my feet were burning after running around campus all day. The worst part was when I had to cross what we called “the catwalk” which was the the side entrance to the college and particularly tricky to cross with heels. Many a girl had lain sprawled on the ground as yet another victim claimed by the “the catwalk”. It did not help that students hung out in clusters on both sides of “the catwalk” watching for the next victim, out of the corner of their eyes. Seeing as how my books were in my car, I had to go back and forth between my next class and the parking lot crossing “the catwalk” several times a day, just like everyone else (except the smart kids who carried backpacks) which resulted in a searing pain on both soles of my feet insofar that I was close to tears but because everyone was watching (not really, but it felt like it) I kept on walking with my back straight and head held high. I couldn’t even limp because of the crowd that hung out by that area. It took so much out of me to walk all the way to my car. After that day, I was done. I never wanted to go through that ever again.
I saw a doctor who confirmed that it was calluses and that if I filed and moisturized regularly, I could stay on top of it, but never be rid of it, unless I went with something drastic, like surgery, and even then it wasn’t a sure thing that it wouldn’t return. After the doctor confirmed that I had calluses, I completely cut out Pepsi from my diet and lost 10kg in a month (and continued to lose even more weight because something devastating happened to my older sister but I gained it all back only 2 years later) and I took extra good care of my feet (see next paragraph) but I still didn’t wear heels to college anymore because there was always a long line of people waiting to take the elevator, and I just did not have the patience for that, opting instead to run up the stairs which was a hindrance with heels on. Once I got my first job, I wore high-heeled pumps on the daily. I still wear back-breaking heels to this day (because the heart wants what it wants) but I’ll prep beforehand (read: moisturize) and take the proper precautions (flip-flops in the car) and such.
Obviously because of my neurosis I developed a complex and literally became obsessed with foot care products and foot care tools. Some worked and some didn’t but I tried all kinds of different foot moisturizers (Neutrogena Norwegian Formula, Jergens, even Petroleum Jelly, everything really). A lot of them smelled like peppermint which is why I’m now so bored of any product that smells minty. I also experimented with all kinds of scrubs, treatments and callus patches from every brand (Dr Scholl’s, Lush, etc…). I snatched up every single foot file I came across (Revlon, Titania, etc…). I knew enough to never shave the calluses or use products that’ll effectively do the same thing (PedEgg) because it would make the calluses grow back faster, thicker, and harder. When I was in Germany, I found the best foot moisturizer by a brand called ArtDeco (more on that in another post) but because I can’t order it online, I have to ask friends and family who happen to be traveling there to get it for me or just wait until I go to Germany again. In the meantime, I’ll try out different products but the huge thing of Jergens moisturizer on my night-stand is acceptable in a crunch. Also, face creams and scrubs that I don’t like or are about to expire are reserved solely for my feet. To date, I have never found a better foot file than the one by a brand called Diamancel. It’s much more expensive than regular foot files but very worth it. As a matter of fact, I even purchased an extra one for a giveaway on my blog which my sister took off my hands so I purchased another one again for the giveaway but that didn’t pan out, which is why it’s still in pristine condition (in it’s original packaging) because these truly do last forever, and I’m still using the one I purchased. I had ordered it off of Bliss.com along with a handful of Bliss products and a pair of the original fit-flops when they first came out (that’s how long ago I’ve had it). Between a decent foot scrub and the Diamancel foot file, my feet look and feel as healthy as they’ll ever be and I no longer have to moisturize them excessively before bed-time. Now, I just like trying out new foot care products and foot care tools because it’s fun!
If you stay on top of it by exfoliating, scrubbing, filing, and moisturizing your feet regularly, calluses are practically a non-issue. It also helps if you take your weight into consideration and how much walking (or standing) you’ll be doing and choose your footwear accordingly.