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Carrie Steckl, Ph.D.Carrie Steckl, Ph.D.
Finding Meaning Through the Many Windows of Wellness

A Caring Request to Keep Your Feet (and ALL of your toes) on the Ground

Carrie Steckl, Ph.D. Updated: Dec 11th 2012

Relaxing pedicure: $50
Designer high heels: $200
Chopping off your pinky toes to fit into them: priceless a really bad idea

gold sparkling high heel shoeI'm proud to be a Midwesterner for many reasons - the region's friendliness, diligent work ethic, and dedication to family, to name just a few. But now I have another reason to be thankful for my geographic heritage: Midwesterners don't lop off their appendages for the sake of fashion.

The corollary to that statement is that other parts of the country DO cut off their toes. And apparently, it's true. A recent influx of media reports and blog posts indicate that the latest trend on the West and East coasts (particularly in Los Angeles and New York) is something called the "toe tuck" (ick).

The procedure involves slimming a toe by removing its bones or simply chopping off the toe altogether. This allows the person to more easily wear the super-pointy, ultra-uncomfortable designer shoes that are more appropriate for Barbie dolls than for real human beings.

To quote Dave Barry, "I swear I am not making this up." People are actually asking podiatrists for cosmetic foot surgery that leaves them with only 8 toes so they can justify forking over several hundred dollars for upscale designer heels. And many of those podiatrists are happily applying their scalpels.

But not all podiatrists are taking advantage of this latest trend. Ethical doctors are refusing to perform the procedure without a legitimate medical reason, such as structural damage or intractable pain. These doctors (such as podiatrists in my wonderfully Midwestern state of Illinois) state that "toe tucking" comes with significant risks such as infection, scarring, and deformity. In other words, the podiatrists that refuse to perform this ridiculous procedure are upholding their promise to "do no harm."

You may ask how toe tucking is any different from tummy tucking, face lifts, or a myriad of other cosmetic procedures elected for non-medical purposes. You're right - it's not. And I don't like the other procedures either.

What makes people do these things? I can't help but think of the footbinding practices in ancient China, where young girls were forced to break the soft bones of their arches and toes in order to bind them closer and closer together into tiny foot packages imbued with pain and medical problems. They did this because having tiny feet was a requirement for marrying into a higher social class. Is that what toe tucking is really about? Do some people feel they need to fit into the most upscale shoes on the market in order to "qualify" for inclusion into the social elite?

Is our need for acceptance so great that we are willing to self-mutilate for social rewards? If so, perhaps that need comes from the social isolation we've created in our current world, where many of us are only artificially connected with others. I fear that living in technological bubbles deprives us from the face-to-face social connections we need to feel content with our true selves.

While toe tucking might make an amusing media blast, I am deeply disturbed by this growing trend. I implore you to love yourself just the way you are. Please, please don't put your own health at risk for the sake of impressing others or meeting a perceived societal expectation.

Please keep your feet (and all of your toes) on the ground, standing proud and peaceful.


Carrie Steckl, Ph.D.

Its a true blessing to have you visit my blog on mental health and wellness. I also write blogs on faith and caregiving in addition to teaching part-time for Columbia College of Missouri. For more information about my background and writing, visit my webpage at

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