Allyson Felix announces maternity return policy for Saysh shoe line

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For nearly 20 years, Erica Mintzer has kept a pair of sleek brown leather shoes, hoping that one day her feet would magically shrink and slide easily into the expensive pumps.

She keeps them perched on a shoe rack in her closet as one of the few remaining relics from her size 6.5 previous life. Today Mintzer wears a size 8.5.

The change, she said, happened during two pregnancies in 2002 and 2007. “I think it actually increased each time,” said Mintzer, a 53-year-old DC-based attorney. .

Indeed, Mintzer is not alone. Experts say it’s relatively common for a person’s shoe size to increase after pregnancy — and permanently.

“It seems like a bit of a well-kept secret,” Mintzer said, adding that she suffered some denial when she returned to work after giving birth. “I was trying to slip my feet into recently purchased shoes that I wish I had a motherly return policy.”

It is now an option in a shoe company. Saysh, the lifestyle brand founded by Olympic runner Allyson Felix, recently launched a maternity return policy for pregnant customers with increasing shoe sizes.

“If you own a pair of Saysh Ones and your feet change in size due to pregnancy, we’ll send you a new pair,” Felix, America’s most decorated athlete in history, announced in an Instagram post last week. Her hope, she added, is “that women feel seen by politics.”

On social media, users hailed the initiative, which was touted as the first of its kind in the footwear industry.

“Women give up so much on themselves” to have children, Olympic hurdler Joanna Dove Hayes commented on Felix’s post. “Having a shoe company that understands that while it might not seem like a big deal to some, giving up your shoe size is really an emotional and physical adjustment.”

“What a great thing to do” wrote another user on Twitter who said her shoe size went up half a size.

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According to Mary Jane Minkin, clinical professor in the department of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the Yale School of Medicine, it’s common for people to go up a size after pregnancy – although she doesn’t think that there is much research on the condition. A small study in 2015 found that at 38 weeks of pregnancy, the average increase in foot length was 12%.

Minkin said swelling during pregnancy is “almost universal”; it occurs when blood circulation increases during pregnancy to nourish the baby. But the fluid eventually drains out after giving birth, Minkin added. According to WebMD, the change in shoe size of some people who give birth is more related to hormones and weight gain. The extra pounds gained during pregnancy can add pressure to the feet, flattening their arches. Meanwhile, the hormone relaxin loosens muscle ligaments to prepare for childbirth, which can also cause the feet to spread apart and widen.

Nicole Elias, 38, said so shoe size changed from 7.5 to 8.5 after delivery.

“During the pregnancy, it was clear that my feet were just swelling up,” she said. “And so I found myself wearing a lot of flip flops and tennis shoes that have more flair – and especially more casual shoes in a professional setting.”

New York-based gender equity specialist Elias said she often thinks about little-known expenses women have, such as taxes on tampons or the cost of transporting breast milk home when they’re traveling for work.

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Acknowledging the financial burden of having to overhaul a shoe cabinet, Elias said she believes Saysh’s new policy is a big step forward in mitigating a surprise expense expectant parents may face: “It really is a fantastic way to approach reducing the economic costs for women associated with the events of life.”

For Félix, meeting these practical needs is a primary goal of his business.

After parting ways with her former sponsor, Nike, in 2019 over the company’s maternity policy, her brother, Wes, approached her with the idea of ​​starting his own brand. “I was like, ‘This sounds crazy,'” Felix told People magazine in an interview last year. “But the more I sat with it, I was like, ‘Wow, this is an opportunity. Instead of asking for the change to actually be that change and creating it.

The brand, she said, is focused on fostering community for women and addressing gender inequality. “It was amazing to be able to build this business and build it in such a different way from my own experiences,” she told People.

According to a recent Instagram post, the company’s new policy is part of a series of announcements Felix will be sharing with the goal of making the world a better place for women. It comes days after Felix announced she would be retiring from athletics at the end of the 2022 season.

Elias highlighted the need to see more women in leadership positions, who can bring their insights to help companies shape their business strategies to better serve women and marginalized communities.

“Actually, I really hope it becomes a movement,” Elias said. “I hope other companies really consider this stuff.”

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