Thursday, June 23, 2011

Asymmetry of perfectionism

A few weeks ago, I decided I needed to get a new pair of running shoes. Though the pair I'm currently wearing are not completely worn out, they will be soon. It's typical that if I'm training for a race that I need shoes about every 5-6 months. Some say the magic number is after 400 miles. Anyway, as usual, this was not an easy task. Most places just don't carry my size (I have small, wide feet), but the running shop where our running group meets from, ordered me a few pairs to try on. It was highly surprising to me that my feet were barely a 5. I thought they were at least 5 1/2 since I have worn 6s for years. And actually yesterday I found out my left foot is smaller than my right foot--more on that later. The weird thing was that when I tried on the 6s, it felt perfect in my left foot, but my right foot felt like it was swimming. Then, when I tried on the 5 1/2s, the right foot felt perfect, but my left foot felt tight.

Normally, I would have stayed with the 6s except that I have developed calluses on the ball of my feet, especially during long runs. My feet literally kill me, and I can barely walk. So I thought maybe I had been wearing the wrong size for years as this is typical of many women who buy shoes, according to the running people at the store. They find woman do not want to wear a half size larger.

I decided since I had some pain after a short run with the 5 1/2s that I'd better wait before dishing out the money. Instead, I made a podiatry appt. with a podiatrist who gave a short talk back in the fall to our running group. He immediately remembered who I was too, asking whether the dog (Tovah) was still running with me.

After his foot tests, a number of things were revealed:

  • My left leg is longer by about 3 cm compared to my right (I knew one leg was a little longer but couldn't remember which one)
  • My right foot measures right at a 5, my left foot is a little smaller.
  • The second digit on my left foot sticks up (apparently this is a deformity some people have) which causes more pressure to my metatarsal area. Since I have bunions on both my feet, they do not absorb the pressure well, thus the only place to go is in the balls of my feet. And since the left second digit is deformed, that foot has more pressure and actually stays longer on the ground than my right foot. A few years ago, I had metatarsal inflammation in the same area.
  • My right foot over the metatarsal area is wider than my left foot.
  • My left foot over the midsole area is slightly larger than my right foot.
  • I pronate slightly on my left foot but supinate slightly on my right foot--basically my body's way of balancing itself out.
The treatment plan is custom orthotics, depending on how much insurance will cover. They run anywhere from $300-400, though they last at least 2-3 years. In the mean time, I have some metarsal pads to wear in my shoes, and a little lift in my right shoe. These will both be added into the orthotics as well.

So why did I mention all this weird stuff with my feet? The podiatrist said something interesting to me during our appt. He was telling me how "some people who run 100s of miles have bodies that are built for it. Their bodies just don't seem to break down. But most people have all these small idiosyncrasies that when added together affect us. If you keep looking close enough, you are going to find them."

This is so true. We are made up of many small imperfections if you want to call it that. What I think is ironic is how many people quest for the perfect body but yet do not even think about these small things necessarily. And what I mean about small are, I have one toe larger than the other, one side of my nose is larger than the other, one leg is smaller than the other, etc. You get the picture.

Now, of course, there are people who do focus on these small imperfections and go to extremes--those with BDD come to mind, but mostly people will say, "I want to be thinner, I want to have flat abs, I want to tone up, etc." It's all generalizations to find the quest for perfect, but in reality, there is No Perfect. Because if we were truly perfect, and I'm thinking about this in a scientific way, everything would be the same and symmetrical, there would be no room for error, no flaws, no nothing. Even those like Angelina Jolie who some people say are beautiful, probably has some sort of asymmetry going on.

The other thing about this whole asymmetry thinking is that it is likely that some of them are out of your control. That means, you were born with them, they make up who you are--unique, different, and beautiful too.

So, I know this is a bit long-winded. It was just an interesting point to think about. How many of us really think about symmetry in our bodies, or even how it may affect us? Maybe that is really the "perfection" we are all looking for.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

something we used to say in inpatient a lot "I am perfectly inperfect"