If I were a celebrity, I'm certain I would have appeared in a slideshow of celebrity photos you can click through to reveal a strange physical flaw you never knew that said celebrities possessed.
My terrible defect would have been my feet. At 30, I had had the bunions of a 70-year-old. I was repulsed by my own feet.
I went to lengths to hide my feet from the light of day — which is obviously not difficult since the invention of the closed shoe. It did mean, however, that the world of open-toed heels, strappy sandals and flip-flops was a world I could not venture into. I could only peer longingly through shop windows at shoes that would never be mine.
If there was an occasion that required bare feet in public, I would do my best not to partake, or cover them with a towel, try to move quickly or hide them behind something — all efforts that don't really work and hence why I received many a question such as, "Wow, what happened to your feet?"
Once, when I was 11 and shopping for school shoes with my mom, she said loudly to the assistant, "She needs a really broad shoe because she has terrible bunions." Total mortification ensued.
My ugly feet had developed at the unusually young age of around seven or eight. There was no real reason for me to have such terrible feet so prematurely and so my doctors suggested an unlucky genetic factor. With that in mind, I took up the best possible pursuit to further ruin my feet: dancing.
By the age of 30, and after many years of this artistic pursuit, my feet had reached a new height of ugliness. I decided to take the drastic action: having major surgery to make my feet beautiful.
The surgery required me to take three months off, and it takes a total of 12 months to fully recover and see the final result. Called a bunionectomy, it involves an incision along the big toe and a realignment of the tissue and bone; in other words, your foot gets sliced open, the bones get broken, realigned, chiseled down, and pins are inserted to keep everything in place.
My surgery was performed using a local anesthetic, which meant I could also see my foot being sliced open in real time. To keep me calm, I was given a sedative both before and during the surgery. I had both feet operated on in a two week period and was required to wear a post-surgical boot on both feet for a month each.
The pain after the surgery was terrible, I could barely leave the house for six weeks, sleeping was uncomfortable, and I spent the first three weeks of recovery feeling nauseous and disorientated from the painkillers. I also couldn't get my feet wet for six weeks, so trying to bathe was a real pain the ass.
After the stitches were removed, I had large scars on my feet, which have slowly faded with the use of treatment creams. Initially, it was difficult to see the improvement the surgery had made as my feet were so swollen. At around the five month mark however, my new feet began to emerge, sleek and de-bumpified.
So was the pain worth it?
I honestly couldn't be happier with my new feet. In fact I'm ecstatic. They look more feminine and refined, and I'm no longer embarrassed to show them in public.
I would think very carefully about having the surgery, however, as it is costly, extremely time-consuming, and very painful. Whilst my surgery wasn't on my face or my chest, the experience gave me a new appreciation for anyone who chooses to have cosmetic surgery.
The only negative thing I would say is that I had such a good result it has prompted me to consider other parts of my body that could be improved by surgery, thus potentially leading me down a slippery slope of self improvement by going under the knife.
For now, though, I'm distracting myself with some long-awaited shoe shopping.