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Because Dubious Hodgepodge Would be a Great Name for a Rock Band

By Amalah

With a question from…me! Whoa.

Dear Amalah,
Do you have any words of advice for future question submitters about how they can help YOU help THEM? Also, why do all your pop culture references date from before 1999, you big fat lame-o?

Yes! I do have advice for them! And also, I like big butts! And I cannot lie about it!
1) Before submitting a question, please use the Search bar up yonder, over the masthead, to make sure I haven’t already covered your particular quandary. Follow-ups to previous questions and requests for clarifications are accepted and encouraged, but I’m trying not to beat the ever-loving hell out of the same topics week after week. (Coming soon to a sidebar near you: categories and sub-categories! Whee!)
2) Please include as much detail as possible in your question. Photos are extremely helpful and will not be published, unless you explicitly tell me to publish it. (You little vixens, you.) If you aren’t sure whether a specific detail is relevant, include it anyway. Let me slog through it all and edit it down if needed, but seriously: the more info you give, the better my advice will be.
2b) Which is still probably not saying much.
3) Please use a descriptive subject line in your email, like “oily hair problem,” or “foundation question” or “my boyfriend is a lazy unemployed slob who I want to kick to the curb but omg, I still love him.”
4) Please please please be patient. I answer three to five questions a week, depending on the Small Chunkin One’s nap schedule. But I receive waaay more than that every week and the backlog, she grows. So at this point I cannot promise I’ll be able to answer them all.
Each week I try to pick a diverse group of questions and topics — usually starting with the oldest questions first, although I may mix in a newer question if the subject catches my eye or it seems like a good fit for the week. (I also have this little thing about only answering questions that I…you know…can answer. If it’s over my head, I may hand it off to a guest writer, or I may just glare at it in frustration week after week.)
4b) On that note, please don’t resubmit questions. If you received the auto-reply email with the scary-sounding legal disclaimer, I received your question.
And now, on with this week’s hodgepodge of dubiousness!
His Royal Yet Dubious Chunkiness.
Love the Smackdown, your round-up, and your regular posts!
Here’s my question – I am not in the best of health, and require a wheelchair in order to leave the house. As you can imagine, it is not the ultimate fashion accessory. As a matter of fact, it is a fashion killer. Things that look good when you are standing — hitting all the right curves & accentuating none of the wrong ones — look not so good in the wheelchair. Long legs may look good if you were able to stand on them, but if you’re sitting down the whole time, you may now look as if you have knees the size of dessert plates, which poke out at odd angles. The often advised monochromatic look? Makes you look like a blob of whatever color this may be. Drawing attention to the waist – not so much an option anymore, unless I decided to turn my “accent” into a “seatbelt.”
Fashion magazines aren’t exactly wheelchair friendly, so I honestly have no ideas as to how to look semi-attractive when leaving the house — I may not be a social butterfly, but my college friends insist on getting married, and “I look like a blob” is not really an acceptable reason to decline.
Now before you continue your whole “I-am-not-qualified-to-answer-these-questions” rant, let me just point this out: A wheelchair? Is sitting down (just all the time). You, yourself, probably sit down quite a bit. Perhaps even at the occasional wedding. Therefore, I consider that you have some qualifications & can advise me. Please?
With Many Many thanks!

Oh my hell, I am so not qualified to answer these questions. Although you make a very good point. I do sit down quite a bit. In fact, I am a big fan of sitting.
There are two main issues with clothing and sitting, two issues I’m sure you’re well aware of: waistband tummy bulge and high-water pant legs. The pant-leg problem is solved easily enough by wearing pants with a longer inseam. (Gap, J.Crew, Ann Taylor and Banana Republic all have pants with longer legs, just to name a few places.) Or go in the opposite direction with a purposely cropped pant.
But what about that damn bulge around the middle?
You don’t mention your overall body type or size, so I’ll keep this verrrrry general. Two-piece outfits will look the best, preferably with the top and bottom in contrasting colors. (I hear you on the monochromatic look. Break up the blob, I say!)
The bottom should be at least knee-length, for both um, modesty and to hide the upper-thigh squash spread. I think a full and gathered skirt would be PERFECT, as all that material cascading around you will make your torso seem elegant and slim. And the top should be fitted around your boobs, kind of longish and never tucked in. Use it to cover any waist-funkiness.
And then, of course, you draw even more attention away from any real or imagined blobness with a great pair of shoes and a bold beaded necklace.
Luckily, I have just described an outfit that is so very, terribly in right now. Mini-skirts are out! Tops are hitting our hips! The peasant blouses are so billowy they’re bordering on maternity wear! Three cheers for jewel tones!
Even SHORTS are knee-length right now, which warms my tarry heart.
I’ve borrowed some photos of outfits from Banana, the actual pieces are less important than the overall idea of the outfits. They’re all pretty simple: long untucked tops, cropped pants and/or knee-length full skirts. They’re all versions of outfits I own that are 100% sitting-down-approved.

Hi Amy,
I have a problem that I have no idea how to fix. No matter what type of mascara I wear, I always get dark smudge marks under my eyes within a few hours of application. I only put mascara on my top lashes, have tried several types of normal and waterproof (I know, waterproof is the devil but I’m clutching at straws here) but no matter what I end up with the smudges.
The smudge marks occur right under my bottom lashes and are worse towards the outer edges of my eyes. Even if I only apply a light coat it still happens. My skin does lean towards oily, but not to the extent that I would think it would cause this problem.
I’m currently using moderately priced mascara but would be willing to try more expensive brands.
I’m sick of looking trashy and tired early into a night out, and await your wisdom.
Thank you in advance,

Mascara is one of those things that I still refuse to spend a lot of money on. I’ve tried some very nice ones, but the end result is the same: it’s dried-out toast in about three to six months, with nothing to be done except buy a new tube and toss the old one, no matter how much mascara may be left. If I’m going to spend the big bucks on a top-shelf brand, I am going to use it until I get down to the very last dregs no.matter.what. (I unscrew my foundation’s pump top once the bottle seems empty, and then I scrape the inside tube to make sure I get every usable drop.)
I’m guessing your mascara problems are stemming more from the shape of your eyes and lashes than from the product you use. And then your oily skin is exacerbating the problem. So I’d recommend you try some priming products and see if that doesn’t help.
Some of the best eye bases and primers out there right now are made by Urban Decay (probably because the line is big on bold, wild eye shadows, and colors like “Oil Slick” and “Asphyxia” are pretty much going to made everybody look like heroin addicts without a good priming product).
For your actual lashes, try Lingerie and Galoshes for Lashes, which is a combination primer/waterproofer thingie. First you apply the primer (“Lingerie”), then your own mascara, and then the waterproofer (“Galoshes”) (do you get it? GEDDIT? ha!). To combat the oiliness/smudginess of your whole general eye area, try the Primer Potion.
(Also, have you tried curling your lashes first? And then combing them after applying your mascara? I have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA if that would do any good at all, but it at least sounds like it might, right?)
(The Wednesday Advice Smackdown: Holy God, She’s Totally Just Making Stuff Up Now.)
Dear Gracious Amalah the Wise,
I have very large, very arched feet. Someone should build a structure in their honor and place it on a St. Louis riverbank…
So I’ve got these high arches and in the last few months or so it’s become clear that I’m becoming my mother because I can no longer tolerate shoes without support–that goes for flip-flops, sandals, heels, loafers, basically everything. Any day that I wear footwear other than my supportive and cushy tennis shoes, I spend the evening nursing horrible foot cramps that wreck my toes into gnarled claws of fiery pain.
Luckily, tennis shoes go pretty well with my generally slobtastic wardrobe, but every once in a while I need to put on a skirt or some slacks or otherwise feign attention to style. Also, the tennis shoes are the same ones I wear to the gym, which GROSS.
So what’s a girl to do? I’ve tried insoles, but they either don’t stay put, are so bulky my heel won’t stay in my shoe, or they just plain don’t fix the cramping problem. Plus, insoles and flip-flops don’t get along so well. I’ve tried trendier tennis shoes, but the styles these days are usually just as flat and flimsy as a regular loafer. Even my beloved Chuck Taylors are giving me foot cramps, and it might as well be the end of the world.
Confession: I buy really cheap shoes. I mean really really cheap. (My favorite pair of kitten-heeled sandals were $3.19 on the sale rack at Mervyns four years ago. (Size 10s are usually on deep discount.) But guess what? They are the only shoes besides my tennies that I can wear comfortably.) Could the shoes’ cheapness be the problem? Will better-made shoes come with more arch support? And how will I know that the expensive shoes are crampless until I’ve spent a fortune on them and worn them around for a day or two? Maybe the problem is just my feet and nothing else? Know anywhere I can get new feet at a good price.
Ever grateful,
p.s. I had no idea it was pronounced AIM-ah-lah, and now my whole world is turned inside out.

(You know, there was a time when all the questions I got were about shampoo. And I used to complain about all the questions about shampoo. “I am bored of talking about shampoo!” I would say. But at least I KNEW THE ANSWERS to questions about shampoo. These days? Y’all are just trying to stump me.)
(And it’s working.)
Anyway, this is a question I really hesitate to answer. Foot pain should never be ignored or shrugged off. And the words “fiery pain” raise those good old “she should really be asking a doctor” alarm bells.
There are a lot of conditions that cause foot pain, and your high arches put you at particular risk for developing some of them. Of course, foot cramps can also be caused by relatively innocuous things, like a potassium deficiency. And sometimes? Stuff just starts acting up as we get (gulp) older.
But only a doctor can tell you for sure. He might recommend custom or medical-grade insoles or an anti-inflammatory medicine. Or he might just tell you to head over to Easy Spirit and learn to live with it.
In the meantime, do NOT wear heels or shoes without good arch support. Try a potassium supplement and wear a good pair of supportive slippers (I know, I KNOW) around the house at night instead of going barefoot. And demand a LOT of foot rubs.

About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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I used to have high arches, and years of going barefoot (hey, I work at home, why exactly do I need shoes) ended in a diagnosis of plantar fasciitis and 2 heel spurs. My podiatrist had arch supports made for me, and all I’ve been able to wear for the past 2 years are sneakers. But my feet feel SO MUCH BETTER. Go get thee some arch supports, before you end up at a podiatrist who wants you to wear orthopedic shoes!


Ooh, something I know something about! Yes, expensive shoes are definitely much, much better than cheap ones. I spend $100 for my tennis shoes (I get them from Ecco) and they’re worth every penny. Go to a podiatrist and get orthotics. Never go barefoot. Find a brand that you know you like and fits and then you can shop for shoes on the internet. The pair I’m wearing right now retail for $125, I got them for $30 on eBay. And get on it now, if you ignore it it gets worse and then you start getting arthritis in your… Read more »


I still love my high arches. Sexy and almost cartoonish, their height is the best thing about my feet. The only time I curse them is when shoes have tops on them that do not allow enough room for my foot to fit inside (Leah – do you have this problem too? The bottom of your foot comes up so high that it doesn’t allow your foot inside of the shoe because the straps or the actual leather of the shoe may have planned for the width and the length but not the height?) The very best shoe for my… Read more »


As far as shoes go…they used to only be ugly orthopedic types but over the past few years Aerosoles have come out with some VERY cute styles. They are more than the usual “comfort” suspects. And worth EVERY. PENNY. I also have a high arch so I’m kind of picky (not that you’d know it from my shoe closet) about fit also and I’ve never had a single complaint about Aerosoles. You know, now that they’re cute…


Thank you, Amalah, and thank you readers! (Because I like to overthink and overexplain, I’m tempted to clarify and comment and ask still more questions, but I’m going to resist the urge to abuse this forum and just leave it at “Thanks!”) It looks like my fluffy bunny slippers will be getting some new internal structure work…


I used to manage/buy for a very nice shoe boutique in Northern California. If you think that that qualifies me in any way to give advice, please read on. Expensive shoes can sometimes be the most wonderfullest, fabulousest things on earth. And sometimes they can be complete crap. There are certain very expensive yet incredibly comfy brands I could recommend. (I do have to go on record here saying that I think Dansko clogs are some of the ugliest things ever, and they often don’t work for people with high insteps which people with high arches sometimes have.) But here’s… Read more »


I love when you crazy commenters totally come to my rescue with the awesome advice. You guys are the best.


My feet hurt constantly, and I’m loving the cork-soled Rockport sandals (Cardiff, fwiw) I got from They offer free return shipping, so it’s not a big deal if it doesn’t work out. also has a bunch of orthotics and shoes. And yes, my feet do hurt less when I buy better shoes (IMO, $50-$80 range).

Laura D.
Laura D.

So you go to the doctor and get custom orthotics… any advice for shoes you can wear them in? Kitten heels, slingbacks, sandals, etc. are definitely out!


I agree with the reader who said that more expensive shoes are definitely more comfortable than cheap ones. I swear I can run hurdles in a good pair of $500 3 1/2-inch pumps. There isn’t a pair of $40 shoes made that I can wear all day without pain. Not that that has anything to do with high arches.


LauraD – I got custom orthotics from my podiatrist that are made of plastic and only good for lace-up shoes. Because they’re plastic, a heel would make them ride forward (SO not comfy) and they would fall right out of a sandal. She did tell me that they make leather orthotics for dress shoes, but I wasn’t offered those. Good thing I work at home and can wear sneakers all the damn time.


Hi Emma, Instead of using mascara maybe you should consider a lash tint? While it doesn’t provide extra volume you will have colour for about 4 weeks with no smudges. Here in the UK you can buy home kits but personally I recommend a salon.


I have an acquaintance who is confined to a wheelchair. She always looks so cute I’ve actually spent time trying to figure out how she does it and this is what I’ve figured out. #1 – cute hair, earrings & makeup. Draws the attention to your face. #2 – Cute top, a little fitted & stretchy so it doesn’t bunch all up. Maybe a little pattern. Long enough to cover tummy & hips, sort of. It gives you a longer line. #3 – The bottom half doesn’t need to be noticeable. She’s been wearing a lot of capris this summer,… Read more »


Lingerie and Galoshes is a great product. Eliminates virtually all of the smudge even from applying mascara to the lower lashes. Buuuttt…it’s a pain in the ass to put on because there are two extra steps and you will likely have to comb your lashes out (Tweezerman Lash comb is fantastic, though). Buuuutttt…if you have a problem with smudginess, you can try any mascara your little heart desires and use this. It’s great. But because I am laziness personified, I like Lancome Hypnose in waterproof. Equal amount of non-smudginess and one step. It’s a gigantic pain to take off, but… Read more »


Amalah, you rule!

Rachael Sibley

My opinion is that women should always be recipients of foot rubs.. sore feet or no. 🙂