Dear Younger Me: Choose Healthy Feet over Fashion

healthy feet

Happy Saturday, ladies!  Because you asked, today I am sharing what I would write…Dear Younger Me: Choose Happy Feet over Fashion.

I was asked…how did you get in a place where your foot needed complete re-construction (more than bunion surgery)?

I have given it so much thought.  What would I write to my younger self?  It would be two main messages.

Now, I understand that a post like this might upset some…we can be stubborn and literally “dig our heels in”….interesting choice of words, don’t you think.

But, remember…I am just sharing my story…what doctors told me….and it began almost 50 years ago (yikes…did not realize it was that long!)

This may be some information you might want to share with the younger ladies in your life…I would advise that it is worth a talk with their doctor or podiatrist.

So, let’s dive in…rip the bandage off (which I look forward to doing) and hear what I would say to Dear Younger Me about my feet.


healthy feet

Like most professional women in their 20s, I never thought about healthy feet.

When I joined a top tier advertising agency in Dallas in the mid-1970’s, I was introduced by other women to the world of fashion ….and stilettos! 

The agency was 95% women employees, who competed with each other for the best style.  

I was traveling often and representing clients on television, and wearing high heels was a part of all of it.

But, I did not wear just kitten heels mind you…I wore stilettos…the higher the better.

Since I was a type of workaholic, I dressed this way for years, every day….never considered, would this take away healthy feet.

An exciting trip for me included shopping in the best stores…one pair of Bruno Magli heels at Neiman Marcus just made my year.

Also, shoe designers did not wake up to the fact this was destroying many feet until some 20 years later.

It would not be until then, that wearing flats was fashionable…stylish…cool.

In my 20s, wearing flats was “old lady.”

healthy feet

So, at the end of my 20s, a bunion began to grow…and over time, it became a big one.

I arrived in San Antonio with sore feet and a closet full of beautiful high heels.

That is the time I met Mr.B….fell in love…decided to stay in SA…and we married.

The life of a young, working mother of three was a foot race…and I began to ponder my need for healthy feet.

That was when the first podiatrist asked me about high heels and I confessed.

He said the heels were destroying my healthy feet and enhancing the bunions to come on faster, then he recommended bunion surgery.

Alas, we did not have the income for the I sold my beloved heels and began to purchase cute flats and comfort shoes.

I was in pain every day, until an ad enticed me to make the second mistake…..


happy feet

Dear Younger Me:  Nothing is ever really free!

A television ad in my thirties caught my attention….they would provide free bunion surgery and an attractive stipend for agreeing to test a pain medicine.

After discussing this with the women I was working with at our private school, a few of us decided to go with the offer.  

I have not checked in with the others, so I do not know how they are doing today…remember, this is MY story only…I am not drawing conclusions for others.

The procedure went well.  The bunion was gone…there was little pain…and I had extra money on top of it.

I believed I now had a fresh start with healthy feet…until thirty years later.


healthy feet

Hindsight doesn’t really help me…but it may help others.

If I had not been seduced by the fashion of the day…and if I had not chosen a quick fix…then I might not be wearing this lovely fashion statement right now.

The free surgery became a botched surgery as I aged.

The bunion returned and the pin and structure of the foot ruined my middle toes.

The second toe eventually was straight up and I had no control over it at all.

The foot was such a mess that it affected my balance…my activity…and the shoes I was able to wear.

In order to go forward as a healthy, vibrant woman, the foot needed complete re-construction…old surgery thrown out and new put in.

As most of you know, I lost the third toe.  The blood vessels into the toes are so tiny and thin and, yes, old, that sometimes a toe does not take the new replacement.

 I am assured that my balance and activity level will return and be fine.  That is more important to me than wearing fun shoes…but…fun shoes are a bonus.

Morale of this story is:  LISTEN TO YOUR FEET and do not sacrifice healthy feet in order to wear high heels. 

My feet were screaming at me to make different choices and I just did not listen.  Choose Healthy Feet over Fashion.

Why should you care that there was a 30 year span between the free surgery and the consequences?

I personally think that we need healthy feet later in life to stay in the game!  For balance and for working out.

Healthy feet keep us going and safe.


healthy feet

This picture is from VIVAIA…an excellent shoe brand currenting point blank advertising to those women who have bunions.

That tells me there is still a huge problem out there.

But, if you want cute, sustainable, comfy shoes…check out VIVAIA.

I wear a variety of flats and looking forward to finding what works best for my newly reconstructed foot.

You can see more of the shoes I am dreaming of by clicking this post….DREAMING OF NEW SHOES FOR CHRISTMAS.

I hope this helps women in your lives and I appreciate your request to share the story.  



By Pamela Lutrell

I was encouraged to explain more about my SHOPPING LINKS page and how to use it.  (In fact I just added a few new brands to the list)

I am an affiliate for many different brands and when you click on those brands and shop, then I receive a small commission.

This is such an important income for me and my family.

I have tried to include the brands most shopped by this audience, but sometimes I miss one of your favorites.

If you will tell me what you are shopping, then I can tell you if I am affiliate for them and give you that link…if it is not already on the page.

And remember to send your holiday recipes and decorations with pictures to  Send to email and do not try to put in comments! YOU are the best.

healthy feet


  1. I’m sorry to hear about your struggles with your feet throughout the years – I’m glad that flat shoes are ‘fashionable’ & therefore easier to find at retail these days, but unfortunately not all flat shoes are made equally. I still encounter fashion trainers (sneakers) that have hard soles, & slip-on plimsolls (ballet flats/ slipon slippers) that have much narrower bases (I believe they call it the ‘last’ of the shoe) compared to the tops. As I age, my forefeet widen but my heels are still narrow – I’m finding many of my previous go-to companies, however, are actually *narrowing* their toeboxes to make them look more ‘stylish’. Even many of the Vivaia reviews mention that the brand *says* they’re made for wide feet but that’s just because they assume the knit upper will stretch to cover bunions etc (the last stays narrow – maybe a C-D width base if you’re lucky). Does anyone else struggle with this – or maybe it’s just me?

  2. You are correct to bring this up, Zaeobi. In the past ten years, the toe box became very important to me. That is why I wore Easy Spirit, New Balance, and a few other brands more than anything. A well constructed, comfort shoe that looks great takes a search. When my boot comes off, I am also going to visit our local SAS store. They now have more stylish shoes to offer.

  3. Hi Pam,

    I had foot surgery done on both feet in June 2013 before I retired. I had bunions on both feet removed and Bio-Pro implants put in both big toes. The implants were done because I had no cartilage left between the toe joints. I wore surgical shoes on both feet for a month. Both big toes are shorter now, the right one especially. It threw my balance off and still does. When my stitches came out, I was able to put both my feet in our pool-pure bliss!
    It was a painful surgery as the toe bones had to be cut in two for the implants. My great-granddaughter, she was 5 years old at that time, helped me in my recovery by walking with me every day around our addition. I walked and she rode her bike singing, “Eensy Weensy Spider.” At the end of summer, we held hands and jumped into the pool together.

  4. Toe implants! I have never heard of this. Thanks for sharing Sharon. I know that must have been hard, but your granddaughter is the silver lining. So sweet.

  5. Thank you sharing your story, Pam. I have always been curious but didn’t want to ask. Your decision to share such a personal story to us shows your caring personality. Plus, it is such a cautionary tale. Keep healing. By the way, does the boot come off at any time for relief?

  6. Hi Deborah, I take it off at the end of the day to sleep and occasionally if I feel the foot swelling, I will take it off while I rest. Hopefully…by mid-January…it will be in a closet! Thanks for being here.

  7. I’ve always had foot problems. and not because of wearing the wrong shoes! My mother always had us wear saddle oxfords (remember those?) Then was I was in high school and had a job I bought loafers. My feet are wide at the toe box and with a very narrow heel. I could never wear more than a 2 inch heel, no stilettos for me. i wear orthotics because I pronate. My body structure must have been off because I have had all these problems without doing any thing wrong to cause them! Like you, I love New Balance sneakers for walking and my “dress up” sneakers are from ECCO. The only “nice looking” shoes I wear are a pair of loafers from ECCO. I hope you are feeling better soon!

  8. Gosh, I wore lots of heals back in the day and also have bunions. Plus, now, arthritis affects me feet, as well. I have tried “preaching” to my girls about not getting cheap shoes, too. Hope you’re healing well!

  9. Bunion surgery was not covered by health insurance, so that’s why you tried the free surgery?

  10. Hi Pam,
    Early in the 1990’s when my daughter was two, I had my first bunion surgeries on both big toes, along with months of wooden shoes, and pins, and podiatrist appointments! He did a fantastic job, and I didn’t need another until three years ago, when my left foot started all over again. Mind you, no beautiful heels were to blame, but the fact that I am double jointed throughout my body, and my loose ligaments, even in my feet, caused that big toe joint to slip strangely, eventually causing another bunion. I had found a wonderful surgeon here who recommended a titanium toe joint reconstruction as a solution. So, after a five hour surgery, I have a titanium joint in that big toe, and my foot is beautiful and straight! That doctor truly was a God-send at this time of of my life. I had recently had a knee replacement (because of my loose joints, again ) in that same limb. I am able to walk my daily five miles again almost pain free (the right knee at 62 is beginning to send me messages). I am so grateful that shoe manufacturers are taking notice to the needs of Women and Men, too, and providing fashionable options. I can’t wait to see how you with your new shoes! Just give yourself the gift of patience. Your beautiful new foot will be tender for awhile. Thinking and praying for you every day. I’m sorry I don’t respond as often. Our home just sold, and we are in the process of home inspections, and packing, and all of that wonderful craziness. Sending love to all of your wonderful family there in San Antonio. We have a lovely couple who just moved here from there. I think of you whenever I talk to them!

  11. Hi Helen, we were a struggling young family paying off bills from four pregnancies.,,three of which brought babies. There was nothing extra for elective surgery.

  12. Thank you for sharing your story, Linda. I am certain that will help others with different perspectives…and those who never wore high heels. Say hi from me to your new friends from SA!

  13. I’m thankful that your recovery is going well. I can hear it in your writing voice. Myself and others appreciate your powering through the difficult last month. I’ll share one poor mistake of mine and one positive one in regard to feet. I decided in my youth to wear a pair of flat cute shoes for a 28 mile fund raising walk. I finished the walk but then couldn’t walk for days. I learned how important the foot bed of a shoe was. A positive decision I made was in my late 30s. I came to realize one day that I was paying over a hundred dollars for my boys’ shoes and they either wore them out or out grew them in 6 months. I decided, seeing I wore my shoes for years, that I too was worth the investment. On going to a very good shoe store I learned that I was wearing the wrong size. I was wearing a size too small because I have a narrow foot and the right size for my feet always slipped around so I bought the smaller size. I didn’t know there was such a thing as a narrow size in shoes. Not easy to find sometimes but I’ve come to learn that if shoes are not comfortable in the store they will not stretch or work with inserts no matter how much you pay or how long you wear them. Happy feet to all!

  14. Thank you for your story. I never could walk in stilettos so that was probably good.
    Wow! What a story. I know that good shoes are important because I have neuropathy in my feet and when I wear the wrong shoes I can tell. It is trial and error for me as to what shoes to wear. Hopefully going forward your feet will not give you problems. This was some great advice to young women. How often we let fashion dictate over really what is best for us.

  15. I hope it helps someone, Paula. The other foot does have hammer toes but zi can move, grip and balance with them. Hopefully they will work with me and no further surgeries will be needed!

  16. Pamela, thank you for sharing your story. I’m sorry for all the pain you’ve been through with your feet. I was happy to read that you will be out of the boot by mid January. My mother had me in saddle shoes through grade school and my high school uniform shoes were hideous oxfords. I wore low heel pumps by Naturalizer and Easy Spirit for business. I worked for an automotive company and we sometimes had to go out to the factory floor. I was never able to walk in high heels so I didn’t own a pair. Nevertheless I have bunions. Not severe but I need a wide toe box and a narrow heel. Sounds like a lot of us do. I have learned that its smart to change shoes at least once during the day and never wear the same pair of shoes two days in a row. I looked up Vivia shoes and they are darling but according the comments don’t have any arch support. I’m always looking for shoe recommendations and am thankful we have more options for shoes that are good looking and good for our feet.

  17. There is no need for anyone to apologize. I believe I would have had bunions any way, but two bad choices on my part made things worse. I am doing great and hope to be running my rat race once again soon. Thanks Kathie!

  18. I’ve written “my tale of foot woes” three times now and each time I get to the end it disappears before I can share so I’ll just quickly write that I’m glad you are healing well. I know many of us have foot problems and mine have been with me since I had polio at age five. My shorter left leg and smaller left foot have had me searching all my life ( 77 yo) for comfortable shoes that will stay on my feet. But…I’m thankful I can still walk and no longer wear a leg brace so I’ll leave it at that before this response also disappears.

  19. Sorry that you experience this frustration. Wish I knew a magic wand that would fix tech issues.
    And I am appreciate you sharing your story of polio from childhood. It saddens me so that you had to experience that.

  20. Because I’m taller than average and taller than my husband, I seldom wore anything higher than kitten heels, but I certainly have been known to choose cute shoes over comfortable, sensible ones. Not any more! In recent years, though I buy many of my clothes second-hand, I’ve learned that my feet are worth spending money on and I’m committed to ensuring that my footwear is comfortable and supportive. Thankfully, shoe fashion has come a long way and it’s possible to find good quality sensible shoes and boots that also look great. This is such an important message for younger women to hear!

  21. Thank you for sharing your story Pam. I have bad feet, but I think it is mostly heredity. My mother, who is 93 and has severe bunions on both feet, tells me she had them in elementary school. Her toes pointed sideways then and now and she used to get teased about that by her classmates. Because of her experience, mom insisted that my siblings and I wear lace-up oxford shoes. I was not allowed to wear what were then the “cool” shoes – Bass Weejuns I certainly did not own any heels as a teen.

    Despite my mother’s rules, I still had bunions by the time I started college. I think that they are no worse now than they were 50 years ago, but they have taken a toll. Just like my mom, my toes point sideways. I think that has led to developing Morton’s Neuromas in both feet. The neuromas are the source of the foot pain I experience. My bunions virtually never hurt. Rarely, a particular shoe will cause one or both to hurt. The first time I noticed it was my freshman year of college. I had a pair of blond leather boots with a 1 and 1/2 inch gum heel that caused pain in my right big toe. I can only think of one or two other pairs of footwear that have ever caused pain in my big toes.

    However, the neuromas are a very different story. They are a constant issue. The only pairs of shoes I can wear for hours on end without pain are my Crocs and a pair of inexpensive sandals from KMart. I bought a pretty, expensive, rose gold pair of sandals that look like they are made the same as the KMart pair, but they cause burning pain. Until I have worn a pair of shoes or boots for several hours, I can’t tell if they will cause pain or not. However, I assume that any pair of footwear will be a problem. After the neuromas first showed their ugly heads in 2000, I wore nothing but felt clogs for several years. I stopped wearing skirts and dresses because they looked ridiculous with the clogs. I learned when trying on new shoes that if I could feel the sides of the shoes touching the sides of my forefeet, they were not for me.

    The bottom line is that most shoes are just not wide enough. I find it frustrating that most flat, cute shoes are only tolerable for a couple of hours at most. I would love to know why, when statistics show that most American women are wearing shoes that are too narrow, shoe manufacturers do not make shoes that are wide enough to accommodate our feet!!

    Lastly, I want to let readers know that I discovered the reason that I developed bunions and neuromas despite wearing sensible shoes. I learned around 5 years ago that I have a genetic condition known as Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS). It has at least 12 different subtypes. All involve defects in the body’s collagen production. I am hyper-flexible and so are many members of my family on my mother’s side. I know that EDS is why I developed bunions in my teens despite never wearing a heel. EDS used to be known as a rare genetic condition occurring in around 1 in 5000 individuals. It is now thought to be much more common. It took my 36 year old daughter’s diagnosis 5 years ago for me and other relatives to realize that we had the condition too. My symptoms are milder than my younger daughter’s. So are my older daughter’s symptoms. No doctor ever put together my constant battles with tendinitis – 13 different joints have been affected – with any kind of explanation. I was just told during my first battle with tendinitis at age 40 that I had the problem because I was no longer a “spring chicken”! It took me 5 years to resolve that bout of tennis elbow. As I said above, I’ve had problems multiple times in 13 different locations. The problems never resolve quickly. I am telling this tale because I suspect that there are a handful of you readers who are also affected by EDS. Younger doctors are starting to be educated about the condition and are more likely than older physicians to spot it. EDS just might be the reason for your foot issues.

  22. Thank you for sharing all that you and your mother suffered through, Kathy. That’s so much but hopefully the information about EDS will help others. Thank you for the time you put into your comment.

  23. Dear Pam: Thank you for sharing your story. I can relate to not having money with a young family for any kind of uncovered health expense. It was a tough time. Hopefully foot health now receives the coverage from insurance plans that it should have always had. I could never stand or walk in high heels for very long, so mostly I avoided the accompanying foot issues. There is a great deal of good information in your story to pass on to younger fashionistas. And, there are still lots of health scams out there. Let’s hear it for sparkly comfy sneakers.

  24. Hi Mary, I actually went forward with this now because we met our deductible. I am sure many of you will understand. Yes! To sparkly sneakers!

  25. I, too, suffer from bad feet because I chose fashion first. I am short with short legs, & those sky-high heels gave me the long-legged look I craved in my 20’s & 30’s. I wore them all the time, & since most office floors have no padding, I am now paying the price. While I don’t have bunions, I do have arthritis in my feet, & because the joint at the base of my big toe swells, even some flats cause me pain because they ride on that joint. Thankfully, there are some lovely flats & loafers that work well, & with my casual lifestyle, sneakers are often my choice. In today’s world, there are many attractive sneaker options. Thank you for sharing your story, & I hope your recovery continue in a positive direction.

  26. Linda Conner,

    I am sorry for your foot travails. Have your doctors ever considered that you might have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome? The double jointedness and loose ligaments are hallmarks of the condition. There are tests called the Beighton Criteria that look for markers such as being able to place one’s palms flat on the floor with straight knees, being able to hyperextend the knees, being able to hyperextend the elbows, and several more. I can do all of the above at age 69. I never knew that was not normal until my 36 year old daughter was diagnosed with EDS.

  27. No…It was evident that this was a result of botched surgery done for free. No need to test for anything else. But thanks for your concern.

  28. Hi Pamela, I hope your surgery will bring relief from your terrible pain and give you healthy feet once more, or as healthy and pain-free as they can be. I’ve been thinking of you as you’ve gone through this huge challenge.
    I wanted to tell you I have bad bunions and rarely to never have I worn high heels or uncomfortable shoes. A nurse in my 20’s noticed them and told me they were hereditary, though the wrong shoes can badly exacerbate them, as you know.
    At the very end of this summer my bunions(2 on each feet at inside/outside base of toes) flared up with a sudden terrible vengeance, after years of being relatively fine. I’d been wearing my most comfortable (comfort brand) flat sandals all this summer, but the straps apparently went across the bunions and one day I literally and suddenly couldn’t walk for the crippling pain, it was bizarre. I’ve been working with my podiatrist now and totally revamping my entire shoe wardrobe so that none of my shoes or boots push on the bunions. Anyway, I hope you don’t beat yourself up too much about the stilettos of your youth. Bunions can hit you hard anyway. Your experience has made it clear I need to be especially careful and aware and to never push through any bunion pain. I have a lot of mesh sneakers in the closet now and even some cute new boots. Thanks for sharing your journey.

  29. The first doctor was clear that the heels made the situation worse…I would’ve still had bunions but perhaps they would not have been so large…and extremely painful. I wish I had known to go a little lighter on the heels or perhaps lower on the heels. I did this to help others …I am not beating myself up over it. Thanks Brenda!

  30. Big hugs to you, Pam, for sharing your story with us. I know it will resonate with and help others.

    I was lucky: my OB / GYN told me during my first pregnancy (40 years ago) that high heels were a disaster for pregnant women to wear. I put my heels away; my feet felt so good I never put them on again.

    You are right about our feet being so important as we age. All studies show we should keep active, but we need healthy feet for that. I’m so glad you are going to be there. You deserve it!

  31. I have bunions and a hammertoe, and the SAS shoes have been a godsend for all types of shoes. I wear their WW (double wide!) with a shorter length. I look forward to hearing about your experience with them.
    Also Hoka Bondi sneakers are great, and Orthofeet as well.
    the choices seem to be getting better. Hang in there! Merry Christmas!

  32. Thanks for sharing the brands that work best for you! As soon as I am free of puns and the boot, I will visit SAS.

  33. Thank you for sharing.

    I was fortunate enough to enter the working world when Princess Diana was making the news with low heels. It was still possible to buy shoes for narrow feet at that time. Due to the cost, the styles were not fast fashion or extreme. They were nice-looking, well-made, Italian leather dress shoes.

    Then there was my job, which could see me in a meeting, or climbing up a ladder into a roof in a dress. High heels don’t work in situations like that!

    All this saved my feet. Now, however, I have age-related soft tissue issues like plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis. Fortunately, athletic shoes have good engineering and help with these issues. The best supportive footwear for me is lace-up running shoes.

    I did wear high heels, but not every day and not the extreme high heels of today. I don’t wear them at all now. They make my hips hurt. My grandma and aunt suffered with bunions. I was fortunate not to share that fate.

  34. I LOVE my SAS shoes, I’ve walked miles and miles in mine (shiny black loafers) and still get compliments on them. Hope you find your perfect pair ❤️

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