#Alien adventures: Summer feet – pedicures and gag reflexes

feet-on-beach

Don’t you just love summer? The promise of braaivleis, sunny skies and chardonnay call to us like bronzed Brazilian sirens. It’s hard to resist the call. So inevitably, rush to embrace our summer wardrobes, which of course includes summer footwear: strappy sandals, slip slops and (for those who insist) “strops” – those practical but horrifically unstylish wet/dry, all weather, combination sandal and slop, favoured by ageing hippies or butch men and women competing for Survivor-type endurance challenges. I have two problems with this, and it has –surprisingly – nothing to do with the ugliness of the strop (that’s another column entirely). Call me a killjoy, but I think people should restrain themselves when exposing their feet in summer.

Let me explain.

All through winter you’ve ensconced yourself in a warm cocoon. Your face and (depending if you wear gloves in winter) your hands are the only parts of your body that have been exposed to the elements. The rest of your body has been allowed to do what comes naturally, without the interference of aesthetic concerns.

Our muffin tops rise and spill over our waistbands like dough proving in a warm kitchen. Our heels and elbows crack like Renaissance paintings and most women (and some men) allow the hair on their legs to sprout and stubble as nature intended. The more disciplined amongst us will ensure that these aesthetic lapses do not occur and greet summer smug, buffed and ready, which for the undisciplined majority is both enviable and nauseating.

There is, however, one body part that is always overlooked – even by the smug & buffed – and when neglected is rather terrifying when first framed by summer footwear. I’m talking toenails, although when left unchecked over an entire winter season, they become gnarled talons that even water polo players would deem offensive and unsportsmanlike.

I’m not sure why, but so many people slip into summer footwear ignoring the fact that they have feet that witches would probably prize – as an ingredient in a toxic potion. It’s also not only the gnarled, untamed, talons that disturb me, but also – for people of pale complexion – the condition I call “nun’s feet” (with apologies to all nuns). Nuns don’t generally get out much, and neither do their feet, and when they do, their sandaled feet are so pale, they almost seem translucent. When you team glacier-white feet, cracked heels and toe talons together, the collective image is enough to give children nightmares (who understandably are in much closer proximity). And if you have dark skin, you can wipe that smirk off your face. Pale skin might look terrifyingly luminous, but dark skin simply enhances the greyness of unsloughed skin, cracked heels and yes, especially those troll-like talons.

I pity pedicurists in Summer. One I spoke to lamented the fact that most people have a “why bother” attitude and just leave the talon trimming to them. I say have some empathy for your first post-winter pedicure. A pedicurist’s gag reflex is far more sensitive than you think.

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