‘The rest of my body is fairly normal’
I live in Norwich and I’ve got webbed toes.
I don’t know whether it was a subconscious thing or not, but moving to Norwich, I felt like I would be accepted for who I was and not judged for my toes.
On each foot, the two toes next to the big bad boy are stuck together – like the deformed carrots you see in the supermarket.
For so long I have hidden away from who I was, but I knew I would identify with people in Norwich, and this filled me with hope and determination when I was sitting my A-levels.
Mum promises me she didn’t marry her cousin but my toes tell a different story.
As I waddle down Prince of Wales road, I’m the only student wearing pumps and not heels. I look anxiously towards the locals as I hope to see another pair of pumps, and I pass knowing looks at those who are wearing them; we are the same.
Growing up, I always knew I was different.
Getting changed for PE was a stressful situation because what would people think if they knew I was half duck?
I thought my time would come when I began swimming lessons. I was so hopeful that my webbed toes would serve me a purpose, but my flippers were useless.
Life is stressful having webbed toes.
I don’t even know whether I have ten toes or eight, because two of them are essentially conjoined twins.
I can’t paint my toenails using a pedicure divider. My housemates scream every time I thrust my todgers in their face, and I feel obliged to wear slippers around my house.
My sisters would laugh hysterically when mum played “This little piggy” with their toes. What about me? My toes wanted to join in too.
I thought that when I came to UEA I would be with other people who had webbed toes. We could mock and scoff at toe socks and maybe even knit our own pairs with a special conjoined section.
But at the moment I am yet to meet anyone like me. It’s a lonely life being so different.
I know you are out there. I know that there are more webbed toes ready to waddle with me.
A quick Wikipedia search will tell you that 1 in every 2,000-2,500 people have webbed toes. With this figure, that would mean that between 6-7.5 people at UEA are like me; come to me.
Sometimes I feel more at home with the ducks around the lake than with my housemates.
Some people ask why I haven’t had them separated. The truth is, I kind of love my fleshy little freaks.
What I don’t love though, is what I call my witch-y toe.
On my left foot, I have an ingrown toenail on my baby toe. I have had it removed three times, and each time it regrows in a matter of months.
The last time, the doctor burnt the nail bed off, so that there would be absolutely no chance of it regrowing. My toe, in some miraculously horrific way, still blossoms the hard, angular triangle of a nail I currently have.
It may rip my tights when I put them on, but I guess if someone ridicules my webbed feet I can quickly flick my witch-y toe up their leg and scratch them. It’s the perfect weapon to defend my webbed wonders.
Being a student is hard, and I have considered on more than one occasion that I should join forces with the puppet man in Norwich. I could make a fortune.
The rest of my body is fairly normal, and I feel blessed that I have something that makes me different. In the words of Kurt Cobain, I’d rather be hated for who I am (which is why I came to UEA) than loved for who I’m not. Peace.
So, with my claw, and my conjoined toes, my feet really do fit in with Norwich. I knew I couldn’t go to any other university and be as accepted as I am.
At the moment, it’s the locals I identify with, rather than the students, but I can’t wait for the day when my webbed toe army has enough members to form its own society.