my old trouble

JENNY AGUTTER on her dancing feet
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Indy Lifestyle Online
When I was 12 or 13 I started wearing point shoes in ballet classes (shoes with wooden blocks that allow you to balance on your toes). It was extremely painful and it makes your toes bleed. We were told to put surgical spirit on them to toughen them up which is what I did. I was doing to my feet everything you weren't supposed to do at that age, like go for Clark's fittings. By the time I grew up I didn't have very attractive feet. My left foot seems to be all right, but my right foot has developed a rather nasty bunion. I'm 44 now, so I suppose I've had dancer's feet for 22 years, and all the corns and callouses that come with them.

My dancer's feet got me my first acting job when I was 11. I was terrified of going on stage, but I did love ballet and kept it up until I was 17 or 18. Ballet looks wonderfully simple but it makes every part of your body hurt. You don't notice it at the time - your feet are almost numb when you're dancing, but gradually you notice the hammer toes. I suppose it did make it easier for me to wear fashionable pointy shoes and I never had any trouble in high heels.

I lived in America for 17 years and the worst thing for my feet was coming back to cold England seven years ago. In America I went barefoot or wore sandals but when I came home I had to wear shoes again and the cold made my bunions ache. Now my footwear is a combination of comfort and fashion. I walk out all my shoes and wear them until the soles show through.

When you work in films, the costumes have to be correct and that includes the footwear. They are often small and delicate, which is quite a problem for me with my wide-fitting size seven feet. I try and get them to find me one size bigger, but quite often you have a pair that are authentic to the period but are not the right size. Of course I'd wear the shoes for certain scenes but I'd wander around the streets in slippers for any shots from the ankle upwards. One winter I was on location for Silas Marner and it was so cold. The 18th century costume shoes were so tiny, delicate and thin that I spent most of my time in an Empire-line dress and snow boots!

When I was younger I used to rub "Pretty Feet" cream into my feet like the other girls did. And there was this wonderful woman in New York who used to peel the hard skin away taking the corns and callouses, but she did it in a way that didn't leave your feet tender. Then she would rub all these creams into your feet and I love having my feet massaged.

I admit my feet are not very attractive, but my husband doesn't have much of a foot fetish, so I'm OK. I avoid toe-nail varnish and try not to draw attention to my feet, unless I get my stiletto heel caught in somebody's lawn, then I'm really in trouble.

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