RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) -
Ladies, what do you look for when you buy shoes, style or comfort? If you said style, you're in the majority, and it comes at a cost. It turns out our grandmothers aren't the only ones dealing with foot pain these days.
With every color, every heel, every style available, designers are taking shoes and the obsession over them to new heights.
"I adore shoes," says 17-year-old Alaina Smoot as she browses through the aisles at Saxon Shoes in Short Pump. Smoot estimates she has more pairs than she can count on her two hands. "Every shoe I go for is going to be fun and cute."
There's a trend of women wanting to wear shoes that are narrow or very high or strappy with little to not support, and for many, size is just a number.
"When they like something, they really want it. Sometimes size goes out the window," says Saxon Shoes President Gary Weiner.
At the Foot and Ankle Center in Chesterfield, Doctor Mitchell Waskin sees what happens when women choose style over their health. He says those popular pointy-toed shoes can cause bunions, and they're not limited to just women older than their twenties.
"Oh, even younger. I've seen teenagers, I've seen girls 13, 14, 15 that are already having problems," Dr. Waskin explains.
One of them was Jordan Kennemore who had bunion surgery after her sophomore year of high school. "It hurt even putting on sandals, it hurt. I'd go barefoot around a lot," the now 20-year-old remembers. She works full-time as an administrative assistant and is a community college student.
You won't find her wearing high heels when she walks on campus. "I don't wear those a lot anymore. Special occasions, maybe, cause I don't want to try and fit my foot into a tight and narrow space and have something go wrong."
Something could go wrong over time. Dr. Waskin has seen some women who've worn down the fat pads on their feet from wearing heels regularly. "It's almost like you're walking downhill all the time so you get pressure under the bottom of the front of your foot. It gets to be almost like you're walking just on skin and bones."
A March study by the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society found 88% of women in the United States wear shoes that are too small. "Fitters" like Ron Lyles at Saxon Shoes measure customers, but more often than not he sees that they've made up their minds before they try anything on.
"Some kind of wedge with some fun color, glitter, sparkles or flowers or just something like that," Smoot describes her must-have style of the moment. Shoes are a fashion statement for a lot of young women, but Kennemore stops short of making one with her current choices.
"Definitely not the heels," she says laughing. She can smile again because she's long-recovered from her surgery, but she still remembers what it feels like to put a painful foot forward.
Copyright 2014 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond
Do you still wear your fashionable shoes even if they're uncomfortable? Is the pain worth it? Leave a comment here or weigh in on Amy's Facebook page.