Tuesday, October 17, 2006

This little piggy went to market...

It all started innocently enough. In Sunday’s newspaper, I read an article about recent studies that suggest the longer your ring finger is compared with your index finger, the more likely you are to be aggressive, athletic and prone to depression. Huh. I immediately checked my fingers. Fortunately, I along with most women have a symmetrical ring-to-index ratio. These kinds of studies are always accurate, so this explains why women are tranquil spectators who never ever get depressed.

According to these oh so scientific studies – involving rulers and a method of rating aggression which (I’m not making this up) measured how hard college students slammed down the phone after hearing rude comments – people with asymmetrical finger lengths, palm sizes, wrist diameters, elbow widths and ankle circumferences are likely to be violent phone slammers and thus a danger to society.

The article went on to say that “scientists have been measuring and comparing hands, feet, ears, limbs, etc. to see whether they provide clues to personality and behavior.” Here is where I immediately thought of Michelangelo’s feet. Well, not Michelangelo’s own feet, but the feet on some of his statues and painted figures. If you study these works, you’ll notice that the 2nd toe on each foot is longer than the first. Michelangelo stole this idea from the ancient Greeks who saw the long 2nd toe as an attribute of the gods. Ever since then, the toe has popped up (or out as the case may be) in various artworks as a sign of royalty, beauty, and intelligence.

So far so good. Thinking this would be fun to mention in my blog, I begin looking though my collections of images for a closeup of the feet on Michelangelo’s David statue. None of my slides really do the toes justice so I resort to a Google image search. My son Ethan, groggy and hunting for a box of cereal, walks by my computer just as the screen fills up with naked Davids. He gives me an odd look. “I’m doing some research,” I explain. “Oh, okay.” He sounds perfectly satisfied.

I find a 3D reproduction of David’s toes which will have to do. But now I begin to worry about credibility. My source for the whole “long toe = Greek god” theory is just a conversation I had several years ago with another professor in my department, so my academic conscience (the equivalent of Jiminy Cricket but with a red pencil and wearing a cap and gown) starts pestering me about verifying my facts before I go publishing hearsay. The other little voice in my head (the naughty one who never got his degree because he flunked out) says “hey, you dufus it’s just a blog.”

I listen to Jiminy because he’s much more annoying and besides I don’t want to turn into a donkey, which I learned from the Disney movie happens if you ignore the cricket voices in your head. I commence a highly academically-rigorous search. I go to Wikipedia.

Now you probably do internet searches regarding length of toes all the time, but this was a first for me. I learned enough for a whole seminar which I hope to someday teach called “Feet Throughout the History of Art.” In the meantime, I will share with you the highlights of my first lecture: "Everything you will ever need to know about long 2nd toes."


Many Ancient Greek and Roman statues sport longer 2nd toes, including the famous statue of Emperor Constantine (of which we only have a few fragments so no one has been able to compare elbow widths to test the agression theory).

The name for the longer 2nd toe condition is Morton’s foot after the podiatrist Dudley J. Morton who is most famous for describing it in the 1930s.

The Statue of Liberty has Morton’s feet.

Henry VIII chose his court advisors based in part on whether they had long toes. I’m thinking he may have been better off using other qualifications. Like their ability to give him good dating advice for example.

Morton’s foot, also known as pes valgus, is considered a disorder by doctors because the longer second metatarsal can lead to weak ankles and flattened arches. This explains why Zeus, Aphrodite and the Statue of Liberty all wear orthopedic sandals.

When you do a search for anything toe related, you’re going to learn more than you ever wanted to learn about foot fetishes. It’s beyond a little bit frightening. Do I dare click on a link that has both “podiatrist” and “sexy feet” in the html?

The Cinderella fairy tale has been forever ruined for me by one overzealous interpretation.

Roughly 20% of the population has longer 2nd toes. 70% have shorter 2nd toes and the other really freakish ones have toes of equal length. What? What’s that you say? My first two toes are exactly the same length? Dang. What the heck does that mean?

10 comments:

Radioactive Jam said...

Must... resist... urge to examine feet...

scribbit said...

I can't get enough of your blog. It's like the Cliff Claven of the blog world. And that's coming from a proud Morton-footonian.

P.S. I always liked David enormous hands.

Julie said...

Jam
Leave the hightops on. It's best not to know too much about your own feet.

Michelle
I'll take the Cliff remark as a compliment only if you meant that I would do well on jeopardy, not that I have a boorish personality, excessive facial hair and a penchant for hanging out in bars.

I'll have to do a post on hands too!

The Lazy Organizer said...

So now I know that my longer second toe has something to do with my soft(flat) feet but does that mean that I'm a phone slammer or that I'm royalty?

But what I really want to know is this, when you walk by your son as he's working on the computer and the screen is filled with naked women and he explains that he's doing research, are you going to say, "Oh, ok."

Erica said...

Bit concerned ring finger about a half centimetre longer than index finger. I am a very angry and depressed person..... oh, well....anyone want a fight :)

Erica
(littlemummy.com)

Damselfly said...

I have a longer second toe. I've heard it means everything from se*x*ual prowess to I'm the dominant one in my marriage. But I've never, ever read such an in-depth piece on the Morton thing.

Coming to you from Scribbit!

Geekwif said...

I followed Scribbit's link to you. I tried to resist, I really did. But the socks came off within seconds of finishing your post.

My first two toes are exactly the same length. And my ring finger is a good quarter inch longer than my index. So I guess I'm freakish and aggressive. Yeah. Great. ;)

The Expatriate Chef said...

I had to look as well. Only my second toe on my left foot is longer. The right is not. Does this make me half-intelligent, half a goddess, or just half a royal pain?

Thanks for a laugh and a slight nagging in the back of my mind about my freakish uneven toes ...

Nicole said...

Just stumbled onto your blog, and had a good laugh learning about toes. My husband has Morton's toes that are FREAKISHLY long I'm going to have to send him a link to this post

Sabrina Lamoree said...

The awkward thing is that my first two toes are the same length but mt grandpas first two are the same and last three are all the same its really weird