2 women discover they are shoe twins: 'I've been waiting for her for years'

As the glass slipper in Cinderella taught us, the perfect fit exists.

For two Canadian women who both have a size 7 and a size 9 foot, but on opposite feet, this proves true.

On Wednesday, CBC Sudbury published a story about Jessica Gray, an Ontario woman looking for her shoe twin.

Gray was born with spina bifida, which affected the growth of her feet. She usually buys two pairs of the same style of shoes, one pair of size 7 to fit her left foot, and one pair size 9 to fit her right.

She shared her story in hopes of finding a person out there in the world who could use all the oddly matched shoe pairs leftover from what she buys.

About 24 hours later, Genene Maynard of Calgary woke up and saw the article on Gray that her husband had sent her.

It was at that moment she discovered her shoe twin.

"I have actually put out ads on Craigslist and Kijiji, and my mom has as well in Edmonton … and we've never got any bites," said Maynard.

Foot connection

Maynard was born with cerebral palsy, which, among other things, also affected the way her feet grew in childhood.

"My right foot stopped growing at about 10 years old, so my entire adult life I've just always bought two sets of shoes. It's been a financial burden, for sure," she said.

This morning, the two women connected for the first time on the Calgary Eyeopener

"I am so excited to be able to finally talk to someone with not only the same issue as me but the exact same issue as me, like the size 7 and the size 9, and like maybe we can do some online shopping together soon," said Gray.

"Right, I was saying to my husband last night that I think we can become like little pen pals," said Maynard.

"I said those exact same words. I was like, 'Mom, I have a new pen pal," responded Gray.

They learned they had more than just shoe struggles in common. They share a love of tattoos and distinct hair colours, and both had one foot stop growing as preteens.

Markus Schwabe/CBC & Tricia Lo/CBC

Style match?

Then, the most important conversation took place, the discussion of personal style. 

"It's funny because she's really alternative and I'm really alternative. I was like, 'Oh look, she has blue hair and I have green hair — we're matching," said Maynard.

Gray says her style is very diverse.

"I've got three bags [of shoes] in my closet just waiting for Genene. I've been waiting for her for years," said Gray.

It turns out the two share a love for Nike running shoes, and are both sometimes labelled under "mom style."

"I'm a mom so I'm Birkenstock sandals and a lot of running shoes" said Maynard.

"I definitely have been told I have mom style," said Gray. "Currently, I have a pair of Birkenstock sandals … that are waiting to go to Genene."

Smart shopping

Prior to meeting, the women always had to buy two pairs of the same shoes in different sizes, often opting to buy cheaply-made trendy styles so that the double purchases didn't break the bank.

Maynard says sometimes she was able to wrangle a discount from stores, but not often.

"I was thinking, since we're now in touch via email, we could send each other some links, and if we ever see a good sale of something, be like, 'Hey, you interested in this?' And then that way we know ahead of time if the other person is interested," said Gray. 

"So if it is something a little bit more pricey, we kind of know if it's going to be worth it or not."

Gray recently created a Facebook group called Flip Flopped Feet, where CBC Sudbury first picked up her story. She says she hopes others like her and Maynard use it to connect and share shoes and stories.

"I've seen some comments [on the CBC story] online from people of diverse backgrounds. I've seen men, women, children, all commenting that they have the exact same issue and that they're excited to hear my story," said Gray.

It's opening up a huge conversation that people haven't had yet: not everyone's symmetrical." 

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.