A week ago, Mike Leo knew trouble was afoot in the Cinderella canon. Disney+ had just announced they’re uploading the 1997 live-action adaptation starring Brandy and Whitney Houston to their streaming service. Leo, however, wouldn’t heel to Disney continuously ignoring a major plothole crossing all interpretations of the movie, including the 1950 cartoon, Brandy’s Cinderella and the 2015 remake starring Lily James.
The fairytale’s climactic scene follows poor Cinderella running down the castle stairs seconds before she’s turned back into a humdrum maid. Her glass slipper falls off, and Prince Charming retrieves it. This is the token he needs to identify his new, mysterious love. The Grand Duke is sent around town forcing every woman to try on the slipper. Naturally, it only fits one woman, and that’s Cinderella.
And they lived happily ever after — until last week.
While home in Rochester, New York, Leo stopped in his tracks and created a digital footprint of this pressing issue on Twitter. “insane how cinderella was the only person in town with that shoe size,” he tweeted. No capitalizations. No period. When you’re going toe-to-toe with the Disney machine, you don’t have time for proper punctuation.
He’s not the first person to wager this concern. In r/Showerthoughts, multiple redditors have posted the same question. “How did nobody else have the same shoe size as Cinderella?” @magicschoolbusgirl (sick name) asked six years ago. “I am supposed to believe nobody had the same shoe size as Cinderella,” @ILLCookie remarked in 2017.
Not sure why people are thinking about Cinderella in the shower, but that’s not the most pressing question at hand — the Cinderella plot hole is. It’s time we get to the bottom of this and heel the sole of the Disney canon.
First order of business, how common are shoe sizes? According to PopSugar, Cinderella’s shoe size is 4-and-a-half, which is smaller than average. “For women, the average shoe size is 7 to 8,” Leon Stepensky, a Brooklyn podiatrist, tells me.
So, Cinderella has abnormally small feet. This makes sense! Small feet historically are a symbol of beauty, and Cinderella is supposed to be the most gorgeous woman in town. In fact, she’s the only lady Prince Charming had the decency to acknowledge.
Cinderella is juxtaposed by her stepsisters Anastasia and Drizella. Both ladies (dressed in cute monochrome dresses The Vampire’s Wife would kill for) try to squeeze their feet into the glass slipper. It doesn’t work. They have normal-sized feet, so the prince doesn’t find them attractive. (Prince Charming is the original toxic White Boy of the Month we never should’ve fallen for, but that’s a conversation for a separate article.)
This is the simple answer to Leo’s question: Cinderella had the smallest foot because she’s the only one in the whole village to garner Prince Charming’s attention, thus she can be the only one with her shoe size.
Once you start down the wormhole of Cinderella’s storyline, though, you’ll see that this film is actually full of factual errors. Like, why the hell is she wearing glass on her feet in the first place? That’d cause blisters. Nevertheless, Cinderella wears her glass slippers the entire night and manages not to break them.
“If Cinderella had a wild night dancing, by the end of the night her foot would be very swollen, irritated, blistered and in pain,” Stepensky says. But she did just that. At the ball, Cinderella twirls in an icy blue ball gown for what seems like hours. Prince Charming spins her on the ballroom floor, across the terrace and into the garden. She’s putting in more than most contestants on Dancing with the Stars ever will. So yes, her foot would be swollen in her glass slipper. If anything, her feet would be so sweaty and fogged in her slipper that Stepensky thinks “she might even have difficulty taking it off.”
Well, well, well! Cinderella isn’t a princess at all. She’s a stunt queen, going out of her way to cause a scene. She might live in France, but she’s clearly not attuned to the French exit. Knowing she had to leave a token for Prince Charming, aka Prince Henry, aka Prince Himbo, to find her, she just so happened to “lose” a sweaty shoe.
Maybe if Cinderella didn’t wear goddamn glass as footwear, none of this would’ve happened, and Prince Charming could’ve spent his time as prince focusing on bigger issues, like helping his scared-to-death staff unionize against his father’s penchant for a toxic workplace environment. (This man literally split the Grand Duke’s cigar in half with a sword in his rage about his son’s inability to ask a girl for her coordinates.)
But this isn’t the story we were presented with, so we’ll have to just accept that Cinderella is really an allegory for Anglo-Saxon supremacy. The story is, after all, lowkey about Christian redemption.
As for Leo, he’s left a little unsatisfied with this answer. “I feel like there had to be someone else who could’ve had that size of feet,” he says. He even wonders “if children got to try on the shoe.”
Well, Leo, that’s a separate question all its own. You’re going to have to foot the bill for that answer.