According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, the worldwide average shoe size for adult men is between 9 and 12, while the American average adult male shoe size is a 10.5.
I remember being a size 10 – I was in middle school. I had a sweet pair of Reebok Pump shoes, which were pretty hip at the time. I remember the feeling of being able to just walk into a store and buy the hottest new shoes. Like an overwhelming majority of people, that was the only normal I knew.
The only problem is my foot didn’t stop there. It grew proportionate to the rest of my body, which was on its way to becoming 6’6. In a matter of two years, I went from a size 10 shoe to a size 16 shoe. I grew so much and so fast that I developed benign tumors in my leg, which was discovered after I broke my leg on a fluke play in a league basketball game. A bit off track but perhaps even more interesting, I was a brown belt in Uechi-Ryu Karate and winning medals in tournaments at the time without issue.
Once I was wearing a size 16 shoe at 16 years old, my new normal became different from nearly everyone else. No longer could I wear any of the coolest new shoes that I wanted. Walking into a shoe store and asking if they had a size 16 in stock became a running joke. Beggars can’t be choosers, so I would get what I could.
My parents couldn’t buy me roller blades because my feet were too big. I would go bowling and have to bowl in socks. While at Basic Combat Training in the Army, I was told the biggest size boot they had was a 13 so I’d have to take those – seriously, was I supposed to cut my toes off so I could wear them? Uncle Sam did not give a fuck. Luckily, my unit had already issued me a pair that properly fit, and I brought them.
In addition to working through my new normal, came the jokes and natural curiosities. A week couldn’t go by without someone thinking they had the next funny joke about my big feet or asking me if everything was proportional. I still sometimes hear it today. It never bothered me, and it was usually well intentioned, but when you hear the same things over and over again it does get tedious.
Thanks to the age of the internet, I was finally able to find more shoes my size (thank you based Al Gore). Almost all my shoes are purchased online. I don’t even bother searching for a brand, I search by the size and filter from there because that eliminates almost everything.
I’m not complaining though. Ultimately, I wouldn’t trade my big feet for anything. They also come in handy when you need to kick someone upside the head.