IT HAPPENED TO ME: I Still Wear a Toe Ring

I bare a secret that is often too embarrassing to share.

It is something that I’m not proud of, but it’s a part of who I am, dammit. It is one of my physical imperfections that, over the years, I mostly forget about until that awkward moment arises during intimacy with a boyfriend or yoga with a friend.

“Excuse me, do you have a toe ring?”

I nervously snort, “Oh, that ol’ thing! Heck, I forgot it was even there!” I throw a dismissive gesture with my hand, but deep down I’m sweating like a pig on an elliptical.

They saw it. The saw my secret.

The truth of the matter is, yes, I do often forget that it’s been on my right toe since 1997, when I was fourteen years old and toe rings, in addition to nose rings and eyebrow rings, seemed like a wise fashion choice for the pubescent teenager. Since I had nightmares of infections and permanent scarring from nose and eyebrow jewelry, a toe ring was the edgiest I would go. And much like an ass tattoo, my toe ring was not for everyone’s eyes. I knew it was there and no one else (because I didn’t have a boyfriend at 14; I wore suits and fantasized about getting it on with a young Elton John).

What I don’t share with people curious about my toe ring is that I’ll probably never take off.

It’s been adorning my toe for 17 years, so why shed it now? WHY?!

To me, my toe ring has become a symbol luck. I feel that the past 17 years of my life have been above average, and maybe it has something to do with the toe ring. If I discard it now, I’ll be doomed to a lifetime of chin hairs, IBS and bad breath.

Don’t you have something you feel the same way about? Don’t you have some Vegas tchotchke your grandmother gave you when you were eight that you’ve carried with you through life, and even after you’ve moved eleven times between major U.S. cities because you had no freaking clue who you were or what you wanted out of life, you knew that stupid, smiling ceramic kitten wearing a “I LOVE VEGAS!” sweatshirt is what got you through your “lost years.” You later named that kitten Frank and it now sits on your desk in your home office, a daily reminder of your grandma, her special powers and how this little tchotchke saved you from a life of escorting and truck driving.

That what my toe ring is. It’s your Frank.

And much like your Frank, it isn’t high-end. I have no gold or diamonds wrapped around my tiny toe. I probably bought this piece of shit at Claire’s with money I saved from babysitting, and it was probably the greatest thing I had purchased up until I was 14.

Once in awhile my boyfriend will point out my ring.

“You have a toe ring,” he says as though seeing it for the first time.

I nod my head in agreement.

“Is it cutting circulation off to your toe? What if your toe falls off?”

I’m not particularly concerned with my toe falling off. It’s a healthy shade of pink; however, much like the ancient Chinese art of foot binding, my toe is now misshapen. At the base exists an indent that makes my toe look bulimic from the knuckle down.

But I’m ok with a bulimic toe if it means I will not suffer a fate of consistent diarrhea.

If you see me in the future, and I’m shoeless with my toe ring shining up at you, please be nice to me. Yes, I know I have a toe ring, and I know it’s not 1997. But she has been good to me, dammit. She has been good.

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  • Reply Purushu January 20, 2015 at 12:13 am

    Ha ha. Interesting. Back here in India, every married (Hindu) woman wears a toe ring. It’s as common as a married people wearing a ring abroad.

    • Reply hipstercrite January 29, 2015 at 4:15 pm

      That is interesting! I love Hindu jewelry and body art. So, so beautiful!

  • Reply CakeSpy January 21, 2015 at 7:16 pm

    I like toe rings. 🙂 and I still wear a mood ring, so I guess I’m guilty of a crime, too.

    • Reply hipstercrite January 29, 2015 at 4:14 pm

      Awesomeness. I need to find mood ring and wear it!

  • Reply Leigh Ann January 25, 2015 at 10:36 pm

    Can we bring back the ankle bracelet too? I’m serious.

    • Reply hipstercrite January 29, 2015 at 4:14 pm

      Heck yeah!

    • Reply Kendra Lute August 6, 2017 at 6:39 pm

      This story is the same with me but with my ankle bracelet! I love it. I have back ups for when they stretch out too much and I’ll replace it. I feel naked without it. But I’ve had a toe ring for years and just found it in my jewelry box and want to start wearing it again. Do you feel it when you wear sneakers or anything other than flip flops?

  • Reply steve May 22, 2015 at 2:39 pm

    I’m a guy (politely coughs), a mostly straight guy, and I have been wearing a real toe ring, one on the “pointer finger toe” of each foot for more than 20 years. By real toe ring, I mean not one of those non-committed half toe rings that is open in the back. And my more than 20 years I mean, yes, since the early 1990’s. I wear them, and I like them. One is even a James Avery ring. The other probably came from Claire’s too; it was a long time ago, but it was definately from the mall…
    Disadvantages of toe rings include the occasional inevitable public ring viewings/ conversations, being uncomfortable when wearing tight rock climbing shoes, and worries of loss when going off the diving board at Barton Springs, snorkling, and water skiing.
    Advantages of wearing real silver rings on your feet include authentic awesomness, hidden secrets, and appearently some medicinal properties: I like to go barefoot as often as possible, even in places like public showers or maybe some trail running. However since donning the rings I’ve NEVER had any kind of athlete’s foot or any other foot problems. None at all. I’d like to attribute this to my toe rings. I mean why not, right?

    Flaunt those phalanges.
    Dance, decorated digits!
    Stand tall. Trod boldly.

    You are not alone. That was a haiku.

  • Reply tracy November 2, 2015 at 2:10 pm

    I’ve been selling fitted toe rings since 2001, and every year we sell a little more than the last. My grandmother was one of my first customers, and at age 95, she still wears the gold braid I put on her foot 14 years ago. Don’t feel embarrassed, toe rings are great things and make everyone a little happy!

  • Reply Neil Marshall March 9, 2016 at 7:29 am

    Hey, my wife has been wearing her toe ring on her left foot for the last 15years, never comes off, not even when she 2 c-sections, they just taped it up. She loves it all her friends comment on it and one has even started wearing them herself. So wear it with pride and don’t apologise for it.
    I also wear a plain silver one in the summer and love it.

  • Reply Jeanne Sadler May 14, 2016 at 8:16 pm

    Shortly before my divorce 20 years ago, I put on a toe ring and a while later, got one for the other foot. They had to cut one off when I was pregnant the last time, but I replaced it with a ring with little footprints – it reminds me of her.And now, at 56, the opinion of 20-something fashionistas doesn’t affect me a bit. My feet are happy in Tevas and a few toe rings. And so am I 🙂

  • Reply Vic September 27, 2016 at 2:18 am

    I also sell fitted toe rings. They are more popular then people realize. Tracy where are you from?

  • Reply Chad Grande January 21, 2017 at 10:45 am

    I also have a toe ring been on for 10 yrs. It was a mood ring but it just stays black now. I am looking into wearing a couple more. In fact have been looking at barefoot samples as well. I think foot jewelry is sexy. And that I never wear shoes.

  • Reply Chad Grande January 21, 2017 at 10:47 am

    I also have a toe ring been on for 10 yrs. It was a mood ring but it just stays black now. I am looking into wearing a couple more. In fact have been looking at barefoot sandles as well. I think foot jewelry is sexy. And that I never wear shoes.

  • Reply Kellie March 3, 2017 at 12:34 pm

    I know this post is old, but I wanted to share that I have been wearing my toe ring since 1999, when my mom gave me a matching one to hers; I was 12. I have never taken it off and it has never caused me problems! Funny, I believe it os just a cheap one, as it is adjustable to size, but it has never broken, tarnished or fallen off!

  • Reply Tom March 7, 2017 at 6:59 am

    I started wearing a toe ring last year. I feel real comfortable wearing it, I now have them stacked.

  • Reply Jean April 24, 2017 at 3:02 am

    I’m a guy, and I’ve been wearing fitted toe rings for 14 years now. I have them in silver and gold. I wear the gold rings most often because they don’t tarnish. Had to take them off when I went running in both a Half & Full Marathon, but I wear them most everywhere. In closed toe shoes & sneakers, and with my Tevas, Chacos, Birkenstocks, Xeros, Gurkees and flip flops. Women think it’s cool and are fascinated that a man takes such good care of his feet that he dresses them up. Keep it up!

  • Reply Carlo Verzeletti April 25, 2017 at 8:42 am

    Been wearing 1 toe ring on each foot for over 3 years. Never come off. I am a barefooter. Shoes destroy the body and shoe companies are liars. Love toe rings and a representation of barefoot life.

  • Reply Chris January 25, 2018 at 4:49 pm

    Yes, some of us consider it a private thing although mine has been seen as well. No reason to feel ashamed, especially for you as people are less prone to criticize it on a female.
    Mine is a 14K white gold 2mm fitted toe ring I bought at the now disappeared and it was not cheap, it is “My Precious”. I have been wearing it almost constantly since 2001. Like you, I even forget it is there! it is NOT uncomfortable.
    I have another (much cheaper) yellow gold that I had prior to this “high end” version.
    The only issue I faced was that some 17 years down the road, I had a sore toe for a few weeks because of the pressure the ring made on the toe knuckle (or perhaps tendon) as I walked. I have flat straight toes and therefore the issue.
    Great article! I wish my girlfriend would also wear one 🙂 but apparently none of my (former) girlfriends have been wearers of foot adornments.
    The question is, do you still wear it? You should wear it because you like it, not because it is the “fashion”

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