My mother insisted I wore Clarks shoes; well made, fitted shoes. I have slim feet and the styles in my size were never very flattering. My childhood was littered with at least twice yearly tantrums and traumas in my local shoe shop. What was available in my width fitting did not fit with my youthful fashion fantasies.
I hated my shoes. I have very distinct memory as an early teen finally gaining a pair of, in retrospect, weird mesh lace up shoes that Freeman Hardy and Willis or Barratts were selling by the bucket load at the time. Not only did I secure a pair of ‘in’ shoes, I also managed to wear them to school. I suspect by hiding my actual school shoes behind a wall for the day. The highlight of my then small world being when one of the ‘cool’ girls commented that finally I was wearing ‘good’ shoes.
This childhood trauma did manifest itself inevitably into a shoe obsession in my early 20’s. I had an impressive collection of flats. I am 5.10” tall and if I wear heals I take on the appearance of the Empire State building, towering over everything and everybody and thus I have spent a lifetime in flats. Flats are less inspiring when it comes to shoe fetish and the cash and the fixation wore thin. Replaced instead with a need to pamper my feet. I’ve tried reflexology, spa foot treatments, home and saloon based pedicures, foot massage and of course; I always have painted toes nails. I once re-painted my toes nails in the high Himalayas, because you might be at a distance from civilisation but nice toe nails still matter. No one likes chipped varnish. My home based treatments involve siting with my feet in warm water whilst I watch tv, followed by avidly scrubbing my feet with a metal file for the perfect heel in sandals.
A while ago I read about fish pedicures. To many people the concept of a collection of fish nibbling or sucking at your feet is not everyone’s equivalent of ‘pampering’ but me, I loved the sound of this new fad. Fish pedicures sprung up all over the place and yet time, parenting, working and then money contrived to stop me dipping my feet into the fish.
Alas, this fad seems to be on it’s way out and once where there was fish pedicures in every shopping centre. Now they seem less common. (What I wonder happens to the fish?)
Recently, I was on the coast with friends and we stumbled upon a fish pedicure parlour. I had some time, I had other adults for childcare and it was available at the special knock down price of a mere £5 for 15 minutes. Everything was in my favour.
On a hot afternoon when possibly I should have been paddling in the sea on golden sands, I fulfilled an ambition and sat under strip lighting and paddled my toes into a tank full of little Turkish garra rufa fish all eager to nibble away my dry and hard skin. Oh the joy. Well, not exactly, I must admit I shrieked at the initial sensation, thus putting my friend off completely. I put my feet gently into the tank and the fish all rushed forward each eager for a first nibble. It was a very strange feeling, not unpleasant, not ticklish. I hardly felt the nibbling. They don’t have teeth so I guess it’s more sucking. It was the flipping of their tiny tails against my skin. I think it was the shock of the unexpected. But I’m not sure what I had expected. The shop didn’t seem too busy, I imagine they were hungry and so the fish and I persevered. Over the course of my 15 minutes allotted nibble time it actually become very pleasant, relaxing even. The fish got lunch, I got soft feet and fulfilled a pampering ambition. They could have made more effort with my heels but I guess there is only so much a fish can do.
Could you? Would you? Dip your feet in the fish?