The Greek Foot

Manolo says, one of the Manolo’s internet friends has asked the Manolo the question.

A delightful woman friend of mine has lived her life under a burden of distress over the fact that her second toe is longer than her big toe on both feet. I myself do not find this unsightly, but she regularly deprives herself of open toed sandals and flip flops because of the shame she feels about her toes. If anyone could shed some light and self-esteem building encouragement in this matter, I believe it would be you.

My friend has half-heartedly cited the fact that such an anatomical arrangement as she has on her feet has been revered as an indication of wisdom and perhaps is an attribute of one of the Greek goddesses. What can you tell us? I’m convinced my friend would look really cute in sandals if she could overcome the belief that her toes are something to hide.

This is the case where the supposedly lamentable imperfection is actually the physical refinement!

Or, at the least, so believed ancient the Greek sculptors, and those who would later work in the classical tradition, artists who created statues of beautiful and impressive women with feet whose second toes were longer than their big toes, the so-called “Greek foot” (known more prosaically as Morton’s Toe).

Look! Here is the right foot of the Venus de Milo.

Look! Here are the distinguished Renaissance toes of Botticelli’s Venus.

Look yet again! Here are the magnificent bronze toes of the Statue of Liberty.

What more proof does the Manolo need to provide of the classical beauty of this physical configuration?

It is the opinion of the Manolo that the woman blessed with this sort of foot should always and only be clad in beautiful sandals of classical design.

By the way, too often, as in this case, do otherwise sensible women become irrationally convinced that some minor physical trait is the gross imperfection to be continually hidden or surgically modified.

How often does one see women with beautiful and aristocratic aquiline noses who wish to have button noses; or women with delicate breasts who desire comically inappropriate enhancements; or women with admirable lips who want lips that are so full as to mar their beauty?

And yet, women with famously “imperfect” features find happiness with men who are famously handsome.

The advice of the Manolo in such cases of insecurity is nearly always the same: ignore it, or better yet celebrate it.

Dress well, live well, treat others well, and do all you can with joyful confidence and others will invariably come to love your flaws as you yourself cannot.

32 Responses to “The Greek Foot”

  1. Bernie June 24, 2008 at 2:03 pm #

    Manolo, have you seen these from the McQueen S/S 09 collection?

    http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2008/06/23/style/20080624_MILAN_SLIDESHOW_20.html

    I have nothing more to say.

  2. Sarah June 24, 2008 at 2:27 pm #

    Do not fret. I too have a longer 2nd toe as do most the women in my mother’s family. I believe it looks more normal than does the sloped toes that always look squashed. Your friend probably has longer more slender toes and that can make her foot look more slender as well.

  3. Tom June 24, 2008 at 2:38 pm #

    “Dress well, live well, treat others well, and do all you can with joyful confidence and others will invariably come to love your flaws as you yourself cannot.”

    Truer words were never spoke!

  4. Natalie June 24, 2008 at 3:01 pm #

    Huh, I always thought the longer second toe was the norm, and my feet were weird because the big toe is the longest. I agree with Sarah, the longer second toe does elongate the foot, making it look slender and elegant.

  5. Bridey June 24, 2008 at 3:29 pm #

    Another Greek-footer here, and I’ve never let it stop me from wearing open-toed shoes! It’s nothing at all to be self-conscious about. Most folks will never notice, and those who do may think it’s cool, or even kind of cute — or have similarly fancy toes themselves.

    (And I think Lady Liberty’s sexy toes are copper, rather than bronze.)

  6. Susan June 24, 2008 at 3:30 pm #

    Bravo, Manolo — wise counsel indeed. Allow me to add my voice to the happy chorus of those with a longer second toe adorning slender feet. In fact, said feet were once asked to model sandals by an Italian fashion photographer, who must have had an eye for the classical. (Of course, this was many footsteps ago, but a it remains a fond memory, marred only by the fact that I didn’t get to keep the shoes.)

  7. Wendy June 24, 2008 at 3:44 pm #

    We used to call that “angel toes” when I was a kid. And I never met a person with angel toes who didn’t have slender feet, which I in my EEE’s coveted most sinfully.

  8. gemdiva June 24, 2008 at 3:52 pm #

    “Dress well, live well, treat others well, and do all you can with joyful confidence and others will invariably come to love your flaws as you yourself cannot.”

    What an incredibly lovely sentiment. Once again the Manolo demonstrates his wisdom in all areas of the human experience. BRAVO!

  9. wildflower June 24, 2008 at 3:55 pm #

    My second toe is longer than my big toe, and like Natalie I never realized it was unusual. I would certainly never hide my feet just to cover this quirk. I do hide my feet for other reasons, though. Years of hiking, long-distance running, and dancing (professionally) barefoot, have mangled my feet beyond all recognition. But hey, I’d rather be strong and ugly than delicate and weak.

    Would you lot be of the opinion that I should let my own ugly feet out of hiding? Thanks for honest opinions!

  10. Phyllis June 24, 2008 at 4:39 pm #

    I’m a Greek foot-noter as well!

  11. La BellaDonna June 24, 2008 at 4:57 pm #

    Pfff! Take care of the feets, and let them be seen! La BellaDonna, she also has the longer second toe – and the narrow feets! In fact, La BellaDonna has observed that the recent vogue for the shoes of pointyness has resulted in her buying smaller sizes than her usual! In effect, with the longer second toe, one has the pointy feet!

    Of course, it means the careful shopping for other shoe styles: the shoe with the squared toe, and the lovely rounded shoes, these must be bought in the larger sizes, or they will cause no small amount of pain. La BellaDonna recently indulged in her longing for the Taylor boots by La Canadienne, and, having prudently bought a half-size larger, is delighted to report that they fit and are most comfy.

  12. jen June 24, 2008 at 5:12 pm #

    Hey, I gotta Greek foot too! I never thought it was strange tho, my entire family, both men and women have a longer 2nd toe. I wear a rugged size 10, my mom wears a 7 and we both rock out flintstone feet! The 2 big toes are the only ones that look like they aren’t attached..the last 3 look as if they are webbed together haha!

  13. Nadine June 24, 2008 at 5:56 pm #

    Bravo!

  14. marvel June 24, 2008 at 6:06 pm #

    Wildflower–
    I think you should let your feet roam free in whatever shoes are most comfortable for them. Cute shoes, happy nail polish, and well-moisturized skin can cover for a multitude of mangles.

  15. megaera June 24, 2008 at 6:51 pm #

    You know, I’m pretty sure I read in an article somewhere, that Mr. Blahnik himself, prefers those feet…

  16. deja pseu June 24, 2008 at 7:08 pm #

    “Dress well, live well, treat others well, and do all you can with joyful confidence and others will invariably come to love your flaws as you yourself cannot.”

    Once again, the Manolo inspires as well as entertains and educates. Bravo!!!

  17. Poochie June 24, 2008 at 8:47 pm #

    I like the terms “greek” or “angel” feet. So classic and cute, respectively. And I agree with Marvel, no matter what the shape of your feet.

    My feet are small and more of the largest to smallest orientation -
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/princesspoochie/2609170154/ -
    but we all get hung up on details. I worry about the back of my heels/Achilles tendon area. I used to horseback ride and over the years I’ve built up a padding back there from the boots.

    What can you do? Just embrace it, I guess.

    Luv
    Poochie

  18. Anne June 24, 2008 at 11:33 pm #

    I guess it is all perspective, because everyone in my family has the longer second toe, and made fun of me for having a second toe shorter than both the big toe and third toe. I always thought they were the normal ones!

  19. olga9999 June 24, 2008 at 11:54 pm #

    I don’t have myself Greek feet, but you are SOOOOO right. I don’t spend do much time looking feet but if I look I would spend more time looking gorgeous shoes than feet. So I don’t understand having problems with the feet and not using gorgeous shoes or sandals. ;)

    Best wishes and many thanks for the art class. :)

  20. Helene June 25, 2008 at 4:55 am #

    Thank you Manolo. I loved this post so much that I decided to share it with my readers via a link on my site. I suddenly love my second toe all the more.

    Helene
    The Luxe Chronicles

  21. beckyj June 25, 2008 at 9:54 am #

    I was always told it was a sign of aristocracy. My big toes and 2nd toes are about equal in length.

  22. Chaser June 25, 2008 at 11:03 am #

    wildflower (and Manolo’s friend)–You know, people tell me they have “gross-looking feet” and then I see them….and their feet are just fine. Feet are feet. I don’t know that there’s anything particularly wonderful about slender feet or elongated toes or toes that line up or whatever–or that there is anything unsightly about them, either. If you’ve got healthy feet, let them roam.

    My heels leave a lot to be desired. I moisturize, I pedi, I rub the pumice, yada, but it’s southern California they get dry dry dry. They don’t look great. But it would take a lot more than a dry heel (or a long toe, or whatever) to keep me from a strappy sandal, period.

    In years of looking at the Boticelli’s Venus, I have never once noticed her feet (Good job, Manolo!). People will notice your cute shoes and dress and your nice pedi, and even if your feets have some nubblies and quirks, people will still think you are superfantastic!

  23. BarkingDogShoes June 25, 2008 at 11:34 am #

    She should stop by my blog if she wants to feel better. I have not-so-nice toes after rheumatoid arthritis did a number on my feet. I wish the only problem I had was a second toe that was longer than the big toe :-)

  24. Jen June 25, 2008 at 11:40 am #

    I did not realize that this was considered a defect! I have an index toe that is slightly longer than my big toe and everyone has always told me that my feet are beautiful.

  25. redwards June 25, 2008 at 1:57 pm #

    In my family, we were always told the ladies with the longer second toes would wear the pants in their household. This is considered a good thing with us, and those of us with longer first toes grumble about it!

  26. dance June 25, 2008 at 3:46 pm #

    I also have a longer second toe feet, and bunions, both inherited from my father. In Trinidad I was told this was a “rule your husband” toe (like redwards).

    I did hide my toes for years, until about 17 or so? I still refuse to wear peeptoe shoes as emphasizing the long second toe, but as long as I am showing at least four toes (preferably painted toes), I have managed to become comfortable with my own feet. Plus it gives my feet character.

    But I love hearing it was prized by classical sculptors!

  27. mel June 25, 2008 at 7:46 pm #

    I have these toes too! My family make fun of them saying they look like frogs toes. I hate it when you stub you big toes I stub my second toes and it bends in under and hurts like hell. Although I have greek feet, wide feet, varicose veins right down to my feet and a hideous purple birth mark all down my left leg and foot, the only thing that makes me feel better are a damn fine pair of shoes! I don’t care if other people see and what they think, I LOVE MY SHOES!!!

  28. Nariya June 25, 2008 at 9:00 pm #

    Greek-footers for the win! My family has always thought it looked elegant. I’d never dream of unnecessarily covering them up.

  29. la petite chou chou June 25, 2008 at 11:26 pm #

    my second toe is the same length if not a millimeter or two longer than my first toe. It never EVER occurred to me to think that it made my feet uglier. It still doesn’t and I always thought that feet with shorter second toes looked kinda weird (probably because I was used to how my own feet look).

    The problem is one I cannot quite wrap my mind (or longer second toe) around…

  30. beatrix June 26, 2008 at 9:03 pm #

    I would dearly love to have a second toe longer than my big toe. I have such short little toes that a friend — perhaps I should say “friend”– once told me that they looked like little hot dogs stuck to my feet. Ever since, I have been carefully choosing sandals that hide the base of the toes so that nobody can tell just how short they are. Plus, my feet are not small, and absurdly wide. Love those Greek feet of yours, my dear, they are far more graceful than the peasant feet of some of us!

    However, I am inspired by the Manolo’s kind and eloquent wisdom: “Dress well, live well, treat others well, and do all you can with joyful confidence and others will invariably come to love your flaws as you yourself cannot.” I will do my best to follow his wise advice, love my funny feet, and see what comes.

  31. Ninnaboo April 2, 2009 at 3:17 pm #

    I being Greek, I have Greek-Foot as well..
    I never thought it was weird as well until I started
    noticing that everyone’s feet weren’t like mine haha

    I love my feet, I think they are cute and I like showing
    off that my Second Toe is longer than the rest.

    My dad gave it to me and my sister, my mom doesn’t have
    it soo I think its the dominate gene as well?

    Hmmm well I’m gald there was a little chat about this!
    “Greek-Foot” Is in my mind prettier but thats just me.

    ~Nina<3

  32. DeeBee February 14, 2010 at 5:13 pm #

    I’ve got greek feet. I’m 5’6 tall and I wear size 7 shoes. 2 of my close relatives have been surprised by my shoe size recently (they think it’s too big for girls in our society). I don’t know if I should feel happy about my elongated feet or get depressed. I’ve always hated my aquiline nose as well bcuz frnds used to call me bridie birdie…hmph!