My mom likes to mention how she wishes my legs were broken as a baby. Like a couple weeks ago, she’s in New York for work, we’re getting brunch with my friend, and I’m not exactly sure how it comes up -- we're talking about how much walking you do in this city, and how many shoes you burn through, and then my mom says how many shoes I, specifically, must burn through, as I walk with my feet pointed inward -- and she’s saying it again:
“You know, when I brought her to the doctor as a toddler, he said we could’ve had her legs broken to fix them,” she told my friend. “But by that time, it was too late.” She sighs.
I sit there, all quiet and shifty-eyed (the demeanor I tend to adopt when my mom’s in town). I peek underneath the table to look at my feet. The toes of my right foot are pointed toward my left foot's arch. I reposition it so that it points forward.
Just like my big ol' nose, thinking about how I “walk funny” isn’t typically in my day-to-day thoughts, unless someone comments on it, or I see it in a picture. Like this one, taken last week:
Maybe I’ll also internally curse my body -- and that mysterious doctor down in Florida (where I was born) -- when I’m wasted and tripping over myself after a long night of drinking and not sleeping. (Although that’s not really happening right now.)
Being pigeon toed happens to be one of my many insecurities, when it does get pointed out. (Fucking MOM.) It's one of those quirks I have that makes me feel like a freak.
Really, though, being pigeon toed, or in-toeing, isn't BAD; it doesn't cause back problems, and isn't detrimental to my skull when I'm conscious of how I'm walking.
Just like every other unique trait, being pigeon toed has its pros and cons. Here are some:
PRO: IT MAKES YOUR LEGS APPEAR THINNER
This is why lots of female celebrities look like they have pigeon feet (those LIARS) while they're posing for pictures. When your feet aren't parallel, it creates the illusion that your legs are slimmer than they actually are.
So c'mon, ladies! Let's do that hand-on-the-hip, pigeon-toed stance for all our forthcoming pics! We may feel like poo about our bodies, but at least we know we don't have to untag ourselves on Facebook later.
CON: IT INTERFERES A LITTLE WITH PHYSICAL ACTIVITIES
I've mentioned my pigeon-toed-ness here before -- when I wrote about the humiliating things that have happened to me at the gym. I'd prefer to NOT sob from physical pain while doing the frog pose in yoga when grandpas all around me around me are doing handstands, but I do like this pose for stretching out the thigh muscles that aren't as strong from walking with one toe pointed in.
There are other moves, like in Pilates, where your toes should be pointed outward. And you're struggling, and your instructor might start looking at you funny. Just tell him or her you're pigeon toed. They'll say, "Oh, I never noticed!" And then you'll smile as big as that dog from YouTube and feel really good about yourself.
PRO: IT HELPS YOU RUN FASTER (APPARENTLY)
When I was weeping over my freakish footing (trademarked, just kidding, you can have it), my former-track star boyfriend informed me that "the world's fastest runners are pigeon toed!" Since his insurmountable level of positivity about everything disgusts me, I trust little of what he says.
Turns out: he's right! I guess. Though there's no definitive research behind it, a disproportionate number of fast athletes are pigeon toed. When you run, you land of the outsides of their feet, and then the foot rolls inward. Pigeon-toeds are already inward, saving us time and energy, and thus increasing our likelihood of winning the Hunger Games.
CON: IT CAN CAUSE YOU TO TRIP OVER YOURSELF, WHICH MAKES YOU LOOK LIKE AN IDIOT
As previously mentioned (AHEM), I'm apt to get so pigeon toed to the point where I'm tripping myself -- as in, my left foot trips over my right foot -- when I'm drunk, tired, or my legs hurt after hiking, walking or running a lot.
PRO: YOU STAND LIKE AN ADORABLE TODDLER
Everyone seems to have forgotten about Paris Hilton, but not me! Remember how she always stood pigeon toed? Back in Hilton's heyday, and when I totally owned a "Simple Life" wall calendar, Naomi Wolf commented on the heiress's pigeon-toed pose as part of her "construct that's completely, explicitly sexually available and completely naive and innocent and girlish at the same time." A.K.A. She was trying to pass as a prostitot.
But what if Hilton is really cursed with the in-toe? Pigeon toes are most commonly seen on babies, who are learning to walk, or whose legs are still developing. And toddlers are cute! It's a coincidence. (Also, some say she does it to hide her size 11 feet.)
CON: YOU STAND LIKE A STUPID BIRD
It's called pigeon toed. Right. But pigeons don't really stand with their toes pointed inward. Right?
I would never get close enough to a pigeon to observe if they stand pigeon-toed since I hate those loathsome little creatures so much. (In fact, I cock blocked one on my street earlier this week. As he tried to mount a lady pigeon, I ran up and shouted, "NO SEX!" and they flew away. Then they tried to do it again on the other side of the street and I wanted to vomit.)
See! We're all freaks, really.
All my pigeon toed people, SPEAK. Did your mom break your legs or put you in a freaky leg brace? Did you trip over yourself last Saturday night and cry? What's your quirkiest feature?
Follow me on Twitter: @caitlinthornton.