Recession + Foot Facial = Does Not Compute

The glamorous podiatrist of Park Avenue attempts to make this not an oxymoron, fails to make it not ridiculous.

Dr. Suzanne Levine, D.P.M, is one of those people who makes all the cliches about rich people seem inadequate. She's a podiatrist in "studded Louboutin boots" who saw a gap in the market for patients who wanted not only healthy, but beautiful feet. After all, health does not an attractive Louboutin make. Accordingly, she does a brisk biz in foot facials, peels, and custom rhinestone surgical booties, so as to make feet look as well-groomed and eerily well-preserved as the taut faces five feet north. "

At her office, or Institute Beauté, as she has dubbed it, Dr. Levine has patented the foot facial ($225), a treatment that includes a foot mask, callus removal and a collagen-inducing copper cream; and a procedure called Pillows for Your Feet (starting at $500), recommended twice annually, involving Juvéderm and Sculptra injections that provide cushioning for foot soles, making it easier to wear sadistic heels. She also administers foot Botox to get rid of wrinkles and swelling-gotta avoid the dreaded cankle!-and does a bleaching treatment ($225) for yellowing toe nails. And then there is the controversial toe-shortening procedure of pesky extra-long second toes-sometimes done to ease discomfort, other times for cosmetic reasons-in which middle bones of the toe are removed, making it easier to squeeze into a wider variety of designer shoes. It starts at $1,500.

No one's faulting Levine, here: clearly, she's onto something. And, she says, she has scruples: She won't shave bones merely for daintiness, and does not believe in surgery just so people can fit in to shoes - except of course, in the case of transgender women, who presumably have dealt with worse pain. Her attitude is, women are going to wear absurd shoes anyway - might as well make it as safe and comfortable as possible. To those who view this as some sort of needle exchange compromise, well, clearly you've never looked a podiatrist in the eye and lied, claiming you'll wear AAA Keds for the rest of your life. Or, for that matter, apologized to a pedicurist before getting your one, post-winter pedi of the year.

That said, this is the most frivolous, shockingly tone-deaf thing we've run across in a while, and we speak as people who follow the peregrinations of Miley Cyrus for a living. Worrying about wrinkles on your feet? This is taking fear of aging to a whole new level. Feet are one of the body's workhorses, and a sort of odometer, and however much you run the mileage back with an electric drill or whatever it is they do in Matilda, "aesthetic podiatry" will only disguise so much - and, more likely, just contribute to the cycle of addiction and insecurity that already plagues a certain subset of women who live in fear of that one gray root showing, that one crow's foot becoming less than plumped. Ms. Levine acknowledges that it's the latest spate of ludicrous shoes that's largely fueling her business - 7" skyscrapers of which Levine says, "the average person cannot walk in them-they're limousine shoes," - which, no one seems to realize are pretty much the equivalent of foot-binding. Quite literally, these shoes show that someone doesn't need to stand, or walk - let alone work! And yet their popularity has waxed as the economy has waned. And, apparently, so has Levine's business. The rich are different? Yeah - apparently they can't smile with their toes.

Time for Toetox? Park Avenue Podiatrist Tends to Tortured Soles [NY Observer]