Jumping feet first into modeling Tootsies: In its search for the perfect feet, Dr. Scholl's, the foot-care products company, ..asked folks to step right up and show their toes.


The eyes may be the windows to the soul, but feet are the very foundations of our lives.

We couldn't get along, literally, without them. In a lifetime, the average person walks 115,000 miles, the equivalent of five times around the globe. That's hard work, but fortunately, a pair of feet has 250,000 sweat glands, producing as much as 8 ounces of sweat in one day.

Even so, they are often taken for granted, rarely groomed, even more rarely considered as beautiful as other parts of the body.

Yesterday at the Inner Harbor, the Dr. Scholl's foot-care company took a small step toward changing that. Its representatives disembarked from a specially designed, 30-foot, banana-colored recreational vehicle to offer foot care information, foot massage equipment -- and a chance to make one pair of feet a superstar.

The company is on the hunt for a national "foot model" -- someone with a pair of knockout feet to stand up and be counted.

"We're looking for the perfect feet," said Martyn Kolleda, a field marketing manager for Dr. Scholl's. After nine stops on a nine-month, 37-city tour, Kolleda has seen a lot of feet.

But, so far, he said, "I haven't seen a perfect pair."

What exactly is "perfect"? Dr. Scholl's says a prospective model must have elongated feet that are proportioned to their calves and ankles, good arches and proportioned toes. In addition, the feet must be absent "blemishes, protruding veins, hair, corns, scars or deformities."

Not surprisingly, perhaps, most people who sauntered by the Scholl's stand remained shod as they took literature and free foot-care products. Like 46-year-old Joyce Stinnett of Owings, they were too shy to show their feet.

"Not a chance," said Stinnett, who works in group sales at the National Aquarium. "I like my feet. But they're not model feet."

In college, Stinnett worked as a bartender, so she knows what it's like to be on her feet a lot. "I never take my feet for granted," she said. "I think it's very important to take care of them."

David Ziolkowski, 57, a manager of distribution and warehouse development at the World Trade Center, was eager to put his best foot forward. He untied the shoelaces on his size 7 1/2 black Florsheim shoes and slid off his black socks. There was not a corn, hangnail, blister, fungus or stray hair to be seen, just a pair of clean, smooth-skinned, nicely shaped feet.

"I've had these feet for a long time," said Ziolkowski.

"We have a good relationship. Even my wife likes my feet," he smiled, as Kolleda bent down with a digital camera to record an electronic photo of his feet for a panel of judges.

As the day went on, people from all walks of life stepped up to the modeling stand. A construction worker, a crane operator, a football player, tourists and chefs modeled their feet.

George Goss, 31, a chef at Baltimore International Culinary College, decided to ease out of his size 10 Doc Martens boots to model. "For kicks," he said.

"I like my feet," said Goss, who lives in Westminster. "But I never really think much of them. I do know that they travel economically and get me from here to there."

Goss spends about eight to 10 hours a day on his feet cooking his favorite beef and seafood dishes. He admitted, though, that he doesn't put much effort into taking care of them.

"All I do is wash them," he said.

That's the sort of behavior the Dr. Scholl's tour is out to change. Spokesman Eric Kuhn estimates the tour will reach about 600,000 people, with perhaps 2,000 would- be models' feet being considered in the contest. So far, about 600 pairs have been photographed.

"We want people to begin to develop a relationship with their feet," said Kuhn.

"People don't think about them because they are at the bottom of the body. People don't think about them until there is a problem. Often they don't realize there are solutions, so they lock them up in shoes," he said.

And as for the winner of the foot model search? He or she will be flown to New York City, awarded $1,000, treated to dinner at the supermodel-owned Fashion Cafe and be set up with agents and potential modeling contracts.

Now that's getting a foot in the door.

Pub Date: 5/08/98

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