Shoe shopping struggles are real when you have a physical disability like Spina Bifida! If you are abled you may find it enjoyable but when you have a physical disability you will find it a little more stressful and slightly less enjoyable. When I go shoe shopping with another abled person I am actually bored out of my mind because more often than not there is nothing I can look at because I can only buy shoes that fit my braces. Buying shoes with Spina Bifida is not fun because most stores don’t have what we need so we have to go on a manhunt and hope we find good quality shoes. It can take months before we find something that we think might work and even after we try it often times it may not be what we thought it was. Something needs to be done about this because people with Spina Bifida are not the only ones with this problem.  A new pair of shoes can be exciting for most people but if you have Spina Bifida not so much because all your shoes look pretty much the same and there is nothing to really get excited. Shoe shopping stresses me out for many reasons and today I thought I’d share with you why that is. 

Shoes don’t hold up-   When shopping for shoes I need a shoe that is extra extra wide to accommodate my braces and one that can take some sort of beating.  People with physical disabilities that wear braces are in wearing them most of the time so they need something that will not fall apart in a couple of months. Unfortunately, that is not the case for some disabled people and good quality shoes are next to impossible to come by. Most shoes are just not designed for braces so they end up falling apart within a couple of months which can be frustrating because often time our shoes aren’t cheap.  Disabled people bend more than ninety degrees just like abled people do which may cause some wear and tear on our shoes. Why can’t we design a pair of shoes that can handle that? If an abled person wanted a pair of good quality shoes that would last them a long time and didn’t mind paying a little extra money for it they would have that option. Why don’t disabled people have that same option? It just isn’t fair that disabled people have to keep buying new shoes every couple of months because of your poor design!

Shoes aren’t stylish- I would love to find a pair of stylish shoes but in my experience, I have yet to find any! Every pair I have found are either just sneakers or just flat out ugly! I can’t wear things like flip flops because I have limited control in my feet and as soon as I started walking they would fall off but I also can’t wear sandals because they don’t fit my braces. Creating dress shoes for disabled people shouldn’t be that hard and should be just as much of a priority as it is for abled people but for some reason it isn’t. When looking for shoes I look at the functionality of them because sometimes its the only choice I have but just once I would like to have a pair of stylish shoes. Disabled people deserve to be in style just like an abled person does so why can’t we find a way to make shoes that are stylish for both abled and disabled people?

Stores don’t always have what you need-  Going up to your local shoe store is not always an option for all disabled people. For some, it may actually be a waste of time because most shoe stores do not have the sizes a disabled person needs and we have to special order them.  Special ordering shoes can be frustrating because even when you think you found a good pair of shoes you soon realize the quality is awful. If you could just go to the store and pick them out you may be able to figure that out before you buy them.

Could I decide that I didn’t want to deal with the frustration of shoe shopping and stop wearing my braces? Absolutely but it wouldn’t be advisable and I would cause all kinds of problems. My braces help keep my feet straight and if I stopped wearing them I wouldn’t walk straight and my feet would not stay in the corrected position.  Back in high school, I had a surgery that rotated my foot ninety degrees to the corrected position, and if I stopped wearing my braces that surgery would have been a complete waste of time because my foot would not stay in the corrected position. This surgery took me six months to heal so I don’t really want to mess it up nor do I think it’s worth it.  Shoe shopping is a struggle for many disabled people and I do hope one day it will improve but not wearing my braces is not the answer! If they would make shoes more comfortable and larger to accommodate people with braces it would really benefit people in the disabled community. Is shoe shopping stressful for you? Do you wear braces and have you found a good pair of shoes? If you have I’d love to hear about your experience please leave them in the comments below.