Thursday, 23 September 2010

Pigeon-toed gait endemic among intelligent young women: medical note

I have observed that a pigeon-toed gait is now endemic among intelligent young women (such as students).

A pigeon-toed gait means walking such that the toes of the feet are turned-inwards.

A sign of habitual pigeon-toed walking is that the inner part of a shoe heel will be worn more than the outer part - in more severe instances the outer part of the shoe sole, or even the upper of the shoe, will become worn.

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Being pigeon-toed used to be rare among adults - more common among children, most of whom grew out of it during their teens. It is regarded as a developmental disorder, caused by an inborn distortion of the leg or foot bones which becomes apparent in childhood (but which tended in the past to be self-correcting as the bones grew).

Being pigeon-toed is (almost certainly) dysfunctional on average - because human lower limbs are evolved to work best with straight or slightly out-pointing toes.

Yet I would estimate (from casual observation) that a high proportion of intelligent young English women in their late teens or early twenties (something between a quarter to a half perhaps?) now walk with a pigeon toed gait - all the time, with obviously worn inner heels.

This certainly was not the case thirty years ago.

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So what has happened?

At first I thought it was simply an affectation, a pose, a fashion - an attempt to look sexy in a gawky teenage kind of way. But now I am pretty sure it is developmental - starting in childhood but not self-correcting in the teens, as it used to be. 

In fact, I have no idea what is going on!

My only notions (mere guesses) are maybe we are seeing some kind of dysgenic phenomenon which applies particularly to higher intelligence people (a side effect of assortative mating for some other trait, perhaps?); or that this is a kind of neoteny - of sustained immaturity, of carrying immature traits (characteristic of sexually immature childhood) into potentially-fertile adulthood.This would, again, have to be a side-effect of some other primary process - maybe a side effect of the generally neotenous trend in behaviour in modernizing societies -

http://www.hedweb.com/bgcharlton/psychological-neoteny.html

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But, really, I don't know. Any ideas?