The other day, while Pilates training, I thought I was going to seriously throw up. Each foot that walked through the studio doors, was more disgusting than the last. One client draped her grimy hoofs on the foot bar of the Reformer, as tiny pieces of skin literally fell onto the bar. It was like foot dandruff, or a molting f'in reptile.
Here I am again talking about what grosses me out about Pilates. Now I think it’s becoming a work hazard. In the last couple of weeks I have had my share of, bunions (nothing says old Jew like a bunion) claw toes, hammer toes, ingrown toenails, toenail fungus, corns, warts, calluses, cracked skin, and chipped toenail polish. At what point am I allowed to refuse service? Food establishments have their, “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Service” policy. Maybe I should have business cards saying, “Foot Fungus? Funky toes? Flaking Heels? FORGET IT!” I refuse to believe that I’m the only one feeling this way. I can’t be that alone in the world.
I’m truly at a loss. Am I missing something? Did I not read the small print in the job description? Perhaps I glossed over the part where it said that unwashed and unkempt feet were a part of the job. So now I have to suck it up? Terrif. This Pilates culture makes me feel like Lisa Ling uncovering a lost city on National Geographic Explorer. Who knew?
If I wanted to be this close to feet and their disorders, I would’ve become a podiatrist. Don’t get me wrong, I love well manicured feet with perfectly aligned phalanges. Maybe I have this aversion to horrid feet because I grew up around aesthetically pleasing ones. Not only are my feet near perfect specimens, if I do say so myself, but my father has some of the nicest tootsies this side of the Mississippi. I naively assumed that most people had feet like ours. Oh, how wrong I was.
The last time this foot obsession reared it’s ugly heel, was a few years ago when I moved to Prague to teach English as a foreign language (because that’s what a 38 year old woman does, after almost 20 years in the entertainment business). I was truly in the midst of a different culture, and that culture too had bad feet. I remember reading an article in the Prague Post that said that the Czech Republic was trying to change their image. I thought this was a smart idea since many of the people I met acted as if no one told them that the curtain had come down, and it was okay to smile. The article went on to say that the Czech Republic wanted to be more “modern, developed and sophisticated.” They wanted to change the image that the world had of them as people with “weather beaten faces.” And if I may, I’d like to add weathered beaten feet to that image.
I had never seen uglier, dirtier, and more mangled feet, as I had in Praha. Why? Why so ugly, dirty and mangled? I could understand if it was bad genes. Maybe it was the decades of toiling in the fields and the mines. That would only explain part of the picture. What’s with the dirt? Even if I didn’t shower for two or seven days, I don’t think that my toes would look like I just trampled through a mud pile, laced with petrol. I saw more Band-aids on ankles in Prague than runners post marathon.
Then one day, out of nowhere, I saw the most exquisite manicured feet of a woman on the Metro. Her toenails were filed down to equal lengths, not like a jagged pocket knife. The nail polish was a fresh and sassy ballet slipper hue, and there wasn’t a dry cuticle in sight. I knelt down and kissed every polished toe. At that moment my faith in humanity was restored. Now I have to hope for same in the Pilates studio.