The last few decades have seen a considerable increase in women’s shoe size. With women getting taller, their average shoe size has increased.
According to the Royal College of Podiatry in London, women’s average shoe size has increased by two sizes since the 1970s.
This guide answers the question, what is the average shoe size for a woman, plus we’ll cover tips to measure your foot size, and a general shoe size chart.
What is the Average Shoe Size for Women in the United States?
There is no average or normal foot size for women. It depends on genetics, ethnicity, environment and lifestyle.
In the United States, the average foot size of a woman was 6.5 in the 1960s. It rose to 7.5 in the ‘70s.
While there are no official statistics available, anecdotal evidence received from shoe sales personnel indicates that the current women’s average shoe size is around a U.S. 7 to 8.
What is the Reason for the Change in Foot Size?
According to a National Shoe Retailers report in 2012, the average shoe size for women has grown by more than one size over the last three decades.
Below are probable factors for this change:
1. Increase in Height
Each subsequent generation is getting bigger and taller. Taller women have larger feet – their bodies need the additional base support to maintain balance.
According to the Society of Shoe Fitters, obesity forces the feet to spread to accommodate the extra weight. This increases shoe size.
3. Pregnancy and Menopause
In some women, pregnancy and menopause could permanently change foot size.
Per the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists, women typically gain 25-35 pounds during pregnancy. The increased weight could flatten the arch of their foot, also lengthening it a bit.
Further, the loss of elasticity post-menopause could put pressure on the feet, changing their size.
4. Hormone Fluctuation
A hormone called relaxin helps relax muscle ligaments, especially during childbirth. This could act on the feet too, loosening the ligaments in the feet, flattening them.
5. Modern Lifestyle
Modern lifestyle habits may be contributing to making women’s feet bigger.
In the olden days, women were homebound. Many were forced to bind their feet to make them fit into daintier shoes.
Today, women lead more active and demanding lifestyles. Larger and broader feet help to carry their weight all day long.
How to Measure Your Foot Size
According to the American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society, 88% of women choose the wrong shoe size. This usually happens because they don’t know how to measure foot size.
Sizing differs with different brands, across different countries. However, big brands usually follow standard conversion charts and shoe size measurement practices.
Below are tips to measure your shoe size.
Things You’ll Need:
- Ruler or measuring tape
- 2 big pieces of paper
- Pencil or pen
- Chair to sit on
Measuring Your Shoe Size:
- Stick the paper to the floor so that it does not move while you measure your foot
- Sit on the chair and place your foot firmly on the paper
- Place your pen perpendicular to the paper, and not at an angle. This will give you an accurate outline
- Trace the outline of your foot on the paper
- Repeat the procedure with the other foot. Note that there may be a slight difference between both feet
- Measure the length of the foot from the tip of the heel to the longest toe
- Next, measure the width at the broadest point of the foot
- Write these two numbers down
- Subtract ¼ of an inch or about ½ of a centimeter from both the length and the width
- Use this conversion chart to find your exact shoe size
- Measure your feet at the end of the day. The activity throughout the day could slightly increase the size of your feet.
- If you’re measuring your foot for shoes, wear socks before taking the measurement.
Does Foot Size Matter?
Some people consider dainty feet to be attractive. However, that isn’t the case with all cultures around the world. The Karo Batak, an indigenous tribe in North Sumatra, Indonesia, prefer their women to have big feet.
In the past, most women shopped for smaller shoes, because they would be too embarrassed to ask for a bigger size. However, women today are starting to embrace their larger foot sizes, thanks to popular female celebrities flaunting their large feet.
Rihanna, for instance, is a U.S. size 9, Evangeline Lilly is size 10-11, and Kate Winslet is a U.S. size 11.
With women joining an active workforce, exercising regularly, or becoming athletes, their bodies and their feet have grown and evolved with them.
In keeping with the current trend, top brands are stocking larger shoe sizes for women. Companies such as Nike, Adidas, Zappos, Dillard’s and Nordstrom sell women’s shoes as large as size 12.
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