Psychology Behind Wearing the Wrong Shoe Size


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For approximately 30,000 years, we humans have relied on footwear to protect our feet. In the early days, footwear was used for protection purposes only, but modern-day footwear is designed to accomplish three criteria including form, function, and fit.

Form refers to the aesthetic appeal, and function belongs to the basic purpose. The fit relates to the morphology of the foot and governs its function. If they don’t fit properly, shoes can’t fulfill their purpose of protecting your feet and supporting your gait. If your shoe is too tight, it can cause tissue compression. If it’s too loose, it can result in friction or slippage.

Getting the right fit is a complex undertaking because the footwear industry is not able to design and manufacture shoes that can fit the three-dimensional morphology of a variety of feet in the population. Similarly, the selection of shoes is not only based on quantitative factors but qualitative factors as well.

Woman Bare Feet and High Heels

Did you know, even though ill-fit shoes cause problems such as foot ulceration or pain, people continue to wear shoes that don’t fit them properly. Industry research shows that 3 in 5 people wear the wrong size shoes. They either try to squeeze their feet in shoes smaller than their foot size or get the one that keeps falling off the foot. Are you thinking of yourself right now? If yes, you better stick around to the end of this article.

Based on tens of thousands of foot profiles and surveys, FitMyFoot found that more than two-thirds of males overstate their shoe size by an average of 0.7 sizes, and women understate theirs by an average of 0.1 sizes. What could be the reason behind this phenomenon? Are we not measuring the dimensions of our feet when purchasing shoes, or is it the fashion that influences our shoe purchasing?

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Your foot size not only depends on the length of your foot but also on its width. However, other factors, such as age, genetics, foot conditions, and weight, play a role. Perhaps these factors are impacting the accuracy. Or there may be other reasons behind it. Let’s find out.

Psychological Reasons Behind Misstating Shoe Size

In today’s modern culture, activity isn’t the only consideration for people as they choose their footwear. Design and style are often paramount according to the image they want to portray. As mentioned earlier, the former purpose of footwear was protecting your feet from soil and cold, but now shoes are linked to symbolic values. And these symbolic values transformed shoes into the elements of fetish and social obligation.

When it comes to footwear choices for women, they pay the price of their foot health for achieving this symbol of elegance and power and even associating fetish and power. No doubt we have numerous shoe choices in terms of comfort, but women still engage themselves in the discomfort to feel beautiful, elegant, or sexy. They endure pain from wearing smaller size, high-heeled, or pointed-toe shoes. Perhaps they find some form of psychological comfort in the discomfort.

Woman In High Heels

Objects you love have a strong influence on your sense of identity. The relationship of industrial products and people has been recently approached from the perspective of affection. There are three types of product experiences: aesthetic experiences, the experience of meaning, and emotional experience.

Aesthetic experience refers to the perception of the product and the beauty that you experience when you physically interact with the product. Experience of meaning relates to your association of meanings and memories to the product. And the last one, emotional experience is your feelings and emotions that occur when people evaluate the product.

This leads to an understanding that you perceive the product the way it represents you. And we know that men and women are mostly evaluated by their physical appearance. Although different cultures have different perceptions of beauty in men and women, foot size is generally viewed as a symbol of the difference between the sexes. Small feet are associated with women's beauty and bigger foot sizes are linked with masculinity.

standing on tip toes

Practices such as foot-binding in China, and wearing small shoes in the U.S may indicate that small feet are the identification of female attractiveness in many cultures. Studies show that women want to wear small size shoes to make their feet look smaller than men, as men tend to prefer women with small feet. And as mentioned earlier, smaller feet not only differentiate them from men but also signify youthfulness and attractiveness. Similarly, good height, wide chest, and average size feet proportionate to stature are characteristics of an ideal man.

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Observers use dynamic elements such as physical features and static elements such as shoes or clothing style to form impressions. The importance of physical attractiveness is rooted in the earlier stages of life for both boys and girls. Many studies have showed that physical appearance affects academic performance, social relationships and even earning in adulthood.

Deborah Rhode’s book “The Beauty Bias” calls this lookism. According to her, people are treated differently based on physical appearance, and this phenomenon is high in American society. The discrimination based on physical appearance is powerful, yet overlooked.

Fitmyfoot App

Such biases and practices, such as foot-binding in china and wearing small shoes in America have been subconsciously programming men and women for a long time. Similarly, the cultural perspectives of the big masculine build and tall stature of men versus the petite physique, youthfulness, and small foot size of woman have cast an effect on how men and women view their bodies, including foot and shoe sizes.

So, if you’re lying about your shoe size, know you are not alone. It’s cultural, but can be detrimental to your health. Check out the FitMyFoot app to get an accurate measurement of each of your unique feet. They will thank you.

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