Saturday, November 6, 2010

I don't have mutant feet! I just don't!

Take a look at your feet. Go ahead and take off your shoes, slippers, or socks and get a good look at your naked digits. What do they look like? Is the second toe longer than your big toe? Is your second toe shorter than the big toe? Which do you think is "normal?"

Growing up my cousins always teased me that I had funny toes. My mother and I have the same hands and feet, so until they told me I was different looking I never thought on the shape of my feet. For women, foot "cuteness" can be a big deal as just another facet of the pressures to be beautiful. But I have never faltered in believing there is nothing unusual about my feet. If there was something off I'd probably also have small but unique genetically varied body parts- maybe my ears or my hands. Not exactly scientific logic, I know, but it has worked for me.

Well, my fiance in his ultimate show of support, also thinks my feet are funny (but cute, of course). He describes them as being pronged. There is my big toe, then the next three toes look as if they all belong on a flesh trident of the same length, and lastly is the pinky toe. His feet, what many people will call normal, follow a pattern in which the second toe is as long as or longer than the big toe with the rest of the toes scaling downward in size from there. So whose toes AREN'T mutant?!

I set out to see what the internet could yield. While reading a piece done by Dr. John McDonald, at the University of Delaware, I read about the genetics of toe length. But it seems the biological research leaves some grey area- the short second toe gene is not genetically dominant, but neither is the long second toe gene. S-Toes: 1, L-Toes: 0.

Toe variation has existed probably since the existence of man, so there are some ancient groups who have made statements about toe length which modern people now take as Divine Word, and therefore irrefutable. Thank you Greeks for your Golden Rule and standards of beauty... Your statues have given my feet a bad reputation. Short toe feet have been called Egyptian and the counterpart has been called Greek. Wikipedia has a nice cultural bit about how longer second toes have been associated with royalty even, blah blah blah something about aesthetically pleasing. S-Toes: 1, L-Toes: 1. Call me a jerk, but if Greek ideas of aesthetic beauty were the end all be all then men would feel more pressure to conform to standards of beauty, a larger of the male population would feel the need to be well sculpted and muscled to meet those statuary golden rules.

Despite its cultural dominance, long second toe feet only make up an estimated 10% of the world's population. S-Toe: 2, L-Toe: 1. And due to how it redistributes the body's weight Morton's Toe can cause much musculoskeletal pain. S-Toe: 3, L-Toe: 1.

Clearly, a short second toe in relation to the big toe, is better and definitely not mutant. Even New Age beliefs show that people who have long second toes are too self important, you all "have great vision but can be self-opinionated and like to be seen to be in charge." So there, it's officially set in stone.

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