I heard the item about women's big feet on Woman's Hour a few weeks ago and resolved to write about it, but being so tired, I've only just got round to it. (At the bottom of the webpage you can click on "CHAPTER 4" and listen to the item on big feet.) "New research has found that most women with size 8 or 9 feet are ashamed by their shoe size, and nearly half lie about how big their feet are. So, why all the fuss? Jane chats to Keren Miller a long time sufferer of big feet blues who has taken matters into her own hands, and asks podiatrist Lorraine Jones whether big footed women are fast becoming the norm."
Keren spoke about difficulties in buying shoes for bigger female feet and mentioned particularly the distress caused to her teenage daughter (who has size 11 feet) by the reaction of tactless staff in a shoe shop that did not have shoes big enough for her feet. Ms Miller enterprisingly and laudably decided to do something about the situation and now has this helpful website: http://www.prettybigfeet.co.uk/
My own feet/footwear problems lie not in large size as such, but in the fact that my once size 5½ width AA (i.e. narrow) feet have become much bigger. They are now size 7 and are wide - probably extra wide. Podiatrist Lorraine Jones explained how obesity causes bigger feet because with increased weight to carry, the arch of the foot gets more flattened and splays out, making the foot longer and wider. She also spoke of how insoles are helpful to her patients. I fully agree with her there; properly fitted cushioned insoles can makes shoes much less painful for the overweight wearer.
People whose feet are swollen, rather than just naturally large, do not need shoes with just extra length and width, they need extra depth too, especially in the toes region. Otherwise the already painful swollen veins will be squashed and become even more painful and damaged. There are special shoes, etc for painful, swollen feet. Cosyfeet is one such supplier. And Ecco and Hotter make shoes with very well-cushioned insoles. I'm sure there are many other good makes too. It is very important to get shoes that are big enough. It is better to shop for shoes later on in the day because swollen feet become more swollen as the day wears on and gravity sends more fluid to the feet.