Shoe size is one of the rarely discussed body image issues that plague women.
Some women feel embarrassed about having large feet as smaller petite frames and shoe sizes are historically the ideal.
Fortunately, it’s easier to hide large feet than an overweight body. And you may be relieved to know that large feet are common for today’s women.
But what is the average shoe size for women today? You’ll probably be surprised at the answer.
So, you can go ahead and show off your feet in that gorgeous pair of sandals, regardless of how large (or small) your feet are!
The average shoe size for a woman is 8 and a half to 9 even though size 7 shoes continue to be sold most often.
As women have become taller and more full-figured in recent years, the average shoe size has increased.
While petite women with tiny feet are still attractive, today’s women have begun to embrace their curves.
Gone are the days of women wearing corsets to hide their tummies.
And as more women have become fuller-figured, the average shoe size has increased along with their body mass index (BMI).
Women’s average shoe size has increased in the last few decades
Today’s women often feel as though they’re six feet tall and bulletproof – and they are, in a sense.
But a century ago, women were of smaller stature in more ways than one.
Women were an average of an inch and a half shorter one hundred years ago. As a result, their average shoe size was much smaller.
Women’s shoe sizes in 1970
If you can’t picture yourself a century ago, maybe you can imagine wearing bell-bottoms and a much smaller pair of shoes back in 1970.
But that might as well still feel like a century ago if you were born after the year 2000.
In the 1970s, the average shoe size for a woman was 7 and a half, which is significantly smaller than the average shoe size of women today.
Since platform shoes were all the rage back then, it stands to reason that women may still have been somewhat shorter in the 70s.
Tall and full-figured women have larger feet
There was a time when it seemed like the only women who were tall and skinny were supermodels and women pictured in magazines.
Many women starved themselves on celery and fad diets to achieve that ideal.
Thankfully, the average height for women seems to have increased naturally over time.
And while most movie stars are still insanely thin, women have learned to love their bodies and embrace their curves.
Today, more women have full figures in addition to being taller than they were many years ago.
And that means larger feet are needed to support their larger BMI. A cute and tiny pair of feet simply wouldn’t hold up a bootylicious woman.
Most women wear the wrong shoe size
So, if the average shoe size for women is 8 and a half to 9, then why are size 7 shoes most frequently sold?
For starters, many larger-footed women are embarrassed by their shoe size.
If a man has big feet, he’s said to have a big you-know-what. But big feet feel goofy on a woman.
Smaller feet are still viewed as prettier and more gender appropriate – despite the fact that women now have the capacity to work as a man while still caring for the home.
Many women want all the perks that a man has but without big feet.
Cinderella in the shoe store
But it’s hard to find a pair of shoes that’s a perfect fit, so many women settle for whatever size is closest and feel comfortable enough when trying them on at the shoe store.
Often, women recognize that they badly miscalculated their shoe size the first day that they wear their newly purchased kicks.
Then the shoes end up in a pile in the back of their closet. Well, unless it’s a to-die-for pair of pumps that you’re talking about. Sometimes fashion comes with a price.
However, many women simply aren’t aware of their actual shoe size. The best way to determine your shoe size is to size your feet after walking or exercising.
If you’re spending a day at the mall, the shoe store should be your last stop to get the most accurate shoe size.
Factors that affect the size of your feet
Just as height and weight play a role in a woman’s shoe size, genetics do as well.
If your mother was a petite woman with tiny feet, there’s a good chance that you will be as well, unless you inherit more of your father’s genes.
Environment and lifestyle
While height and subsequent shoe size are inherited characteristics, weight is better determined by environmental influences and lifestyle habits. But these can also be learned behaviors.
If your mother was a full-figured woman who fried the best chicken you ever tasted, you’ll probably continue to eat fried foods into adulthood.
As a result, you’ll likely be bustier and need larger feet to support your frame.
On the other hand, health-conscious women tend to be more inclined to exercise frequently and choose healthy foods.
While a healthy lifestyle will reduce the amount of fat on your body, you’ll still build muscle. And if you’re tall, you’ll probably still have big feet.
Strangely, your feet will be slightly bigger after a good walk, run, or workout, which is why you should size your feet after walking.
While exercise doesn’t directly impact foot size much, you’ll get a more comfortable fit if you size your feet at the right time.
Weight gain or loss
Since weight is such a huge factor in shoe size, you may not be surprised to learn that dropping or gaining several pounds can affect your shoe size.
If you’re really self-conscious about your big feet, weight loss is an almost surefire way to squeeze your feet into those adorable sandals you saw on Amazon.
You can drop an entire shoe size when you lose a significant amount of weight.
This probably goes without saying given the fact that pregnancy naturally causes weight gain.
But you can usually nullify this effect by staying within the recommended weight gain range while pregnant.
Even so, those swollen ankles that plague pregnant women in the third trimester can still leave you forcing your feet into your most comfortable pair of sneakers.
Fortunately, this is only a temporary gain in shoe size, so it’s not wise to spend a bundle on new shoes while pregnant.
Of course, children have smaller feet. Your shoe size will probably steadily increase until you reach your full height in your late teens. But aging can also affect your shoe size.
Many elderly people seem to shrink in height as they age, but oddly, the loss of inches doesn’t affect the length of their feet.
However, your feet will become wider as you get older, resulting in the need for wide-width shoes.
Why you should embrace your shoe size
Surely, you’ve come across articles and self-help books on loving your body.
These resources have been a big influence on the new trend of women embracing their curves. But part of loving your body is loving your shoe size as well.
Your shoe size is part of who you are. It’s an inherited characteristic just like your eye and hair color and facial structure.
Even if your shoe size is influenced by your weight, you can still be a big and beautiful woman. Weight loss improves your health, but you can be attractive at any size.
So, go treat yourself to a spa pedicure and show off those beautiful feet this coming spring or summer- regardless of whether they’re big or small.