Dancer's Foot - The Ideal Foot
If the care of the feet is not commenced in childhood it is certain that in after years much time will have to be spent in assuaging the various evils which beset the foot of the civilised Woman - evils which are some of the "minor" troubles that make one ask, "Is life worth living?"
It is not, however, so much the wearing of shoes which spoils the growing foot, as it is the wearing of wrong shoes. There are many reasons, climatic and circumstantial, which can be given against the fad of allowing children to go barefoot either in town or country, but, from the beauty culture point of view alone, the idea is not good, because the foot becomes unduly widened. Nor is the "sandal foot," with its wide-spreading toes, to be accounted pretty.
A famous sculptor once declared to the writer that he did not consider the human foot to have the least claim to beauty. " It is necessary," he said, "but it offends the artistic eye." But if the foot at its best is not pretty, how extremely ugly a deformed foot can be 1
The object to be aimed at in the culture of beauty - so far as the feet are concerned - is to render them as inconspicuous as possible, but this - as is now generally recognised - is not attained by compressing the feet into boots too small. Nor must the foot-gear hamper the feet in any Way, otherwise they become the source of many pains felt by other parts of the body.
To encase a child's feet in heavy boots is not only to spoil the springy step, which is the main feature in the graceful carriage of the body, but also to spoil the shape of the calves of the legs. This is illustrated by the ugly shape of the calves of the country clodhopper, who is constantly hampered by his heavy shoes, often further laden by the earth he turns and tends.
In childhood an often unsuspected cause of injury to the foot is a pair of boots too short for their wearer.
Children grow so quickly that a wise mother always buys shoes a little longer than the foot, and at first stuffs the toe with a little cotton-wool, which can be taken out later on when the foot grows to the size of the shoe. Nor does she make the mistake of supposing that heaviness is necessarily a synonym of stoutness in leather. Good, well-seasoned and well-hammered leather does not get made up into the heavy, cheap foot-wear which gluts the market.
Shoes preserve the beauty of the feet more than boots, and gaiters may be added when the Weather is severe. A gaiter, however, gives a grown-up foot an extremely squatty" look, because it apparently thickens the ankles, and the beautiful ankle is slender. But in childhood, though appearance is not so important, the length of gaitered leg takes the thick-set appearance of the ankle away.
The Cause of " Flat-foot
If the wearing of soft, well-fitting, and light footwear has much to do with ensuring the future beauty of a child's feet, it has also almost everything to do with the keeping of well-shaped feet. Not always, however, is the hard, tight boot responsible for foot-ills, because loose, ill-fitting ones will quickly create corns. Patent leather causes undue perspiration, with its consequent ills. Flat heels cause the instep to sink, and a flat-foot can be extremely painful as well as ugly. "Flat-foot" is also caused by constant walking on unyielding pavements and floors, a fact many nurses find out to their sorrow after much work in hospitals - where, of course, the floors are hard and polished. The heelless shoe of the nurse is a mistake, because a moderate heel has its use in helping to break the jar which would otherwise be felt by the instep, and by - in time - the spine. Rubber heels do much to give a youthful spring to the step and to make the walk easy. It is also a good idea to place rubber pads inside the boots. The pad is covered with rubber globules, air-filled, and these give the name "+pneumatic "to the invention.
The stockings worn by women are often the cause of unsuspected discomfort, especially if they be thick. Stockings need to be thin and woollen if there is a tendency to undue perspiration or rheumatism. They should be often changed, a fresh pair of stockings giving a sense of well-being quite out of proportion to the effort it has taken to obtain it.
The true proportion of a woman's foot is one-seventh of her height, but few are content to leave Nature's plan alone, and there are many devices which are admissible for the apparent lessening of the size of the foot, since they are harmless to the well-being of the foot.
1 his does not apply to the high heel, if constantly worn. The effect is obtained (1) by rendering the foot inconspicuous, (2) by widening the angle between foot and leg, and (3) by ornament affording contrast.
Observing the first rule, shoes and stockings exactly match the dress in colour, whenever possible, and in no case is the footwear eccentric. A boot with upper and front of different colour gives apparent size to the foot.
A Walking shoe should be trim and inconspicuous, and the soles of new shoes should be Well blacked. Then, When walking, the feet must not be turned out unduly, or the heels planted too firmly. Both these habits, apart from being ugly in themselves, render the feet conspicuous by accentuating the angles between foot and pavement.
The Dancer's Device
This brings us to a consideration of the second device. Note the foot of a dancer as she tip-toes down the stage. If she has clothed foot and leg in one colour the foot seems quite tiny. This is because the angle between foot and leg is widened and almost imperceptible. But put the same foot into a white stocking and a black velvet shoe without heels, ask the dancer to stand flatly on the soles, and she will appear to have unduly large feet. The velvet, by the way, is partly to blame, because there is none of the bulk lost; rather is it emphasised by the shade, whereas the gloss of patent leather or satin catches the light, and detracts from the apparent size. But the great secret of the seeming sudden enlargement of our dancer's feet is in the accentuation of the right angle between foot and leg made by putting a dark shoe on a light stocking, or vice versa. The lack of heels gives full value to the angle. For this reason high heels are becoming. The foot is thrown forward, the instep raised, the angle widened.
The third device is usually adopted with the heelless shoes demanded at intervals by fashion. It takes - the - form of an exaggeration in the size of the buckle or bow placed across the instep, thereby giving the foot a delicate appearance by contrast.
Boots cut with a coquettish imitation of masculinity give the wearer's foot an air of delicacy; lines running lengthways give slenderness - that is why lace boots are more becoming to the foot than are buttoned - and toe-caps pointed give a narrow effect. The slender American foot is gained at the expense of proportion, and is not always beautiful, because the length is increased in order to discount the breadth.
The following are good firms for supplying materials, etc., mentioned in this Section: Messrs. T. J. Clark (Glycola); De Miracle Chemical Co. (Hair Destroyer); Wright, Layman & Umney, Ltd. (Coal Tar Soap); Zenobia Laboratories (Perfumes).