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The Bizarre Scrutiny Around The Duchess of Cambridge's Feet Is the Worst Kind of Sexism

13/04/2016 15:51 | Updated 14 April 2016

A few months ago, I was on a flight from a sunny destination going back to penguin weather in Britain. When I saw the passenger next to me, I almost gagged into my airplane-issued bread roll.

It wasn't because he was wearing a vest and flip-flops, so ill-suited for when he'd have to eventually step off the plane and face facts that it was bloody freezing.

It was because of the grim, horny, yellow toenails and cracked feet sprouting out of his open-toed footwear.

A million thoughts went through my head. What? Why was this okay? Why had he chosen to subject his fellow travellers to this horror show?

Fast forward to present day.

Certain newspapers are running stories about the Duchess of Cambridge's feet, on display during her tour of India.

One has gone so far as to describe them as: "Corns, clawed toes, bunions and fallen arches" and that she had 'neglected' to get a pedicure.

I scrolled down expecting something Hobbit-like below her Emilia Wickstead dress, when all I saw were perfectly normal feet - in fact, at the risk of sounding like that creepy foot fetishist from Sex and the City, they were much better than most I see in my gym changing room.

To add insult to injury, I started to receive press releases from foot product companies about the 'state' of the Duchess's feet and what you could do to avoid such a terrible fate.

I then realised that Prince William would never have had his tootsies scrutinised in such a way.

None of the male politicians get this treatment either when they are papped wearing hideous old-man footwear while on their holidays. We're looking at you, Dave.

But clearly it's fair game when it comes to women. One paper - possibly on a slow news day - decided it was newsworthy to write about Samantha Cameron going without nail polish.

What this smacks of - apart from desperate journalism - is good old-fashioned sexism.

I'm not saying men don't get pedicures or occasionally clip their toenails, but the vast majority don't do anything to them. They let the elements do their work and apparently that's fine. But god forbid that women do the same.

Women's feet, like their vaginas, are meant to be perfectly groomed and pretty. Anything less means you're not feminine, you've 'let yourself go' or somehow are lazy and slack.

I'm sure I'm going to get lots of eye-rolling about this. But we still live in a day and age where women who don't remove their body hair are considered disgusting. But hey, it's fine to have the equivalent of ZZ Top's beard streaming out from a man's armpits.

If this doesn't sum up body image and beauty double standards, I don't know what does. And I have a real issue with the idea of perfection that this type of reporting perpetuates.

It puts women back in that box where they shouldn't have any physical flaws, don't fart, shouldn't snore and must be plucked and preened at all times.

So in my mind, there are three solutions here.

Either we all ascribe to a rigorous regime of waxing and grooming, and anyone who doesn't comply is sent in a rocket to the moon. Or second, we all let it go to pot and braid our armpit hair and curse when our gnarled toenails catch on the carpet.

Or my favourite - number three.

We stop enforcing one rule for women, and no rules for men. Whether you're a man, woman or somewhere in between, wax on or wax off if you want, clip your nails or go for gold like that old Indian guy in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Truly, who gives a shit?

So, horny toenails: not quite the gender leveller I anticipated but a good place to start.

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