Hollyoaks actress Tamara Wall is proud of her bunions and says it’s time to end the stigma around the women’s foot problem.
She told shoe company Calla how her bunions developed in her late teens after she had finished dance college. “I was en pointe when I was 13,” she said.
“From 13 to finishing college, we did pointe rack ballet every morning. You're bashing your feet. Literally, my feet were torn to shreds. You’re not meant to dance on your toes.”
She told Calla: “It wasn't until I started having serious relationships that it bothered me. Men would look at my bunions and be like, ‘Ew, your feet are ugly.’
“At the time I felt negative about them. I went through a big stage in my 20s where you would never see me in a pair of flip flops, which was ridiculous when I went on holiday.”
As Tamara’s acting career took off she learned to manage people’s negative reactions to her bunions.
“I would tell them, ‘It comes from years of dancing,’ because I was proud of being one of the few people who made a career out of dancing.
“My feet got me there, essentially. They're the reason why I have the career I do. So, yes, I am very proud of my feet, and my bunions that go with them.”
Tamara, 43, who lives in Cheshire, has partnered with specialist designer shoe brand Calla to end the stigma around bunions. The Manchester-based company makes hand-crafted shoes for women with bunions. She is one of its biggest customers and spoke to staff ahead of National Bunion Day (Sep 24), in a bid to highlight what bunion sufferers endure.
She also wants bunions to be included in the wider conversation around body positivity, so other women with bunions can feel confident about their feet.
“We’re going through a great moment where we're starting to really open up about, ‘everything is beautiful’,” she told Calla.
“We see larger models now, we're seeing much more on the television with different women of all shapes, sizes and colours. We need to do the feet as well.”
Tamara, who plays Grace Black in the award-winning soap, wants other celebrity women with bunions to help end the shame too.
She said: “When Victoria Beckham became a really big star I remember seeing loads of pictures of her in the press and people were pointing out her bunions like it was a bad thing.
“I was thinking, ‘Oh God, that poor girl. She hasn't done this. It's just her feet.’
“I just wish that maybe she'd have fought back a bit more and said, ‘Oh, so what? Look at my feet. Who cares?’
“Big celebrities need to start going, ‘Hey, these are my bunions.’
“There's nothing wrong with them, they're part of your history and the more people that are proud of their feet, the less of a stigma it will be. Just got to punch that out there.”
Tamara also says the solution is for shoe designers to raise their game for the 25 percent of women who suffer bunions.
Before she found Calla, she struggled for shoes to fit her bunions. The actress took to the stage barefoot when Hollyoaks scooped Best British Soap at the British Soap Awards in 2019.
She said: “You see me on stage with my shoes in my hand, because I've been in so much pain and I literally can't get them back on again.
“Before I knew about Calla I had to get shoes a size bigger than normal or look for one with an extra wide fitting.
“It's such a massive percentage of women that have bunions, you'd think, in this day and age that shoe designers would make wide fitting shoes. It's ridiculous.
“That’s why I love Calla. Calla is embracing it. I think that’s fabulous. And the company makes ridiculously comfortable, very pretty shoes.”
While Tamara has found her solution through Calla’s stylish shoes, other high profile women have undergone bunion removal surgery to change the shape of their feet. Tamara isn’t so keen.
She said: “I'm not unhappy enough to go through that amount of pain. It's supposedly one of the most painful operations to have, you're on crutches for, like, six weeks and they say, like, up to six months to be fully back to normal.
"Is it worth it just to wear a strappy sandal? Is it? No, not at all, so it's not something I'm going to be doing.”
Calla shoes incorporate wide toe boxes, deep cushion arch-supporting insoles, and integrated hallux stretch and comfort panels in kid leather linings.
When asked what message she would give to fellow bunion sufferers, Tamara would encourage them to embrace their bunions. "They're there, and they're attached to your feet, and you live on your feet, be proud of them. They've taken you on a journey. They will take you further on a journey. And the more people that are proud of their feet, the less of a stigma it will be. Just got to punch that out there, that there's nothing wrong with them, and they're part of your history."
We could not put it any better ourselves.
Oh well done you’ve just made me feel less guilty about all the pairs of shoes hidden in
my wardrobe and also stacked up the wall in the spare bedroom, the shoes mostly only worn once! I have quite a few pairs of Calla shoes and boots and although I’m an older woman I love fashionable clothes. BUT with the fashionable clothes you need fashionable shoes! Unfortunately, I can no longer wear really high heels but have a few pairs of Calla kitten heels which are great! Although my feet are broad in the bunion area they are otherwise quite slim! Keep up the good work Calla your customers are passing on the word.