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As a woman with size 42 feet, Sylvia Jeffreys has an important message for the shoe industry.

Jessica Wang - November 18, 2018

Two months from Sylvia Jeffreys' wedding in April of 2017, her then-fiance, Peter Stefanovic, did the unthinkable.

He accidentally threw away her very expensive, designer wedding shoes with "floral appliqués" and "sensible block heels" from UK label Sophia Webster – and the Today show host just knew she would not be able to replace them.

Sharing her story on 9Honey, Jeffrey aired her grievance with the shoe industry – something that any woman with a shoe size north of a size 10 Australian, or size 42 European, will understand.

"There was no other pair. It was the last pair in a size 42 IN THE WORLD," she writes for the publication.

"Depending on the make, I am between a 42 and 43 in European sizing. On a good day, I'll squeeze into a 41 strappy sandal, with my toes hanging over the edge.

"But when it comes to a pointy pump, nothing smaller than a 12 US will fit. Therefore, shopping has been an endless source of frustration and disappointment ever since I was fitted for men's trainers as a fully grown 14-year-old."

Writing about her footwear gripe, Sylvia complained that while more brands are extending their shoe range to a size 11, women with size 12 or 13 feet are still not being catered for, with the few shoes on offer in the size range selling out fast.

"If you're a size 12 or 13, which isn't as rare as you'd think, you can forget about stepping out in style," she says, an issue the journalist is well-versed with.

"Not that any woman in this category needs to be reminded of that harsh reality. She's lived a life of low expectations when it comes to footwear."

Instead, Sylvia is calling for retailers to accommodate the roomier shoe-needs of taller women, a community she says is growing, referencing 2014 research from the College of Podiatry which found the average foot size of British women has grown from a size 6 to an 8 in the past 40 years.

Although the Today show host lists Stuart Weitzman, Country Road and Sophia Webster as just some of the designers who cater to her feet needs, having feet that differ from the size 5-10 norm is something the owners of Soleful shoes, Pradhima Shyamsunder and Kuppal Palaniappan can relate to, so much so that they've created their own brand that exclusively caters to women with size 1 to 5 and 10 – 14 feet.

"I had been struggling to find my shoe size for many years, I would often go to the popular shoe stores to find no size 11 shoes or buy size 10 shoes and squash my feet in, much to my pain and discomfort," Palaniappan told Mamamia.

"I would then visit specific shoe stores that catered for people with large feet, however the style of shoe, was outdated or for an older target market."

And while Soleful shoes is doing their part for the shoe collection of plus-shoe-size women, Sylvia is adamant that there's so much more that needs to be done.

"So the next time you tell a tall woman you'd love to have her height, consider her pain. The grass isn't always greener," she writes.

"And even if it were, it would be impossible to enjoy through the agony of crushed toes."

"It's high time the shoe industry ended its discrimination against us," she writes.

"Retailers are out of step with their customers and ignore our pleas at their own peril.

"Judging by the speed at which big sizes fly off shelves, there's clearly a huge market to tap."

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