Sales assistants at footwear shops are oblivious to Consumer Council health warnings that pointy-toed shoes can cause crippling disfigurement. The shoes squeeze toes into a contorted triangular position, making walking almost impossible, I found out to my cost when I tried some out yesterday. This unnatural shape can cause painful hallux valgus - when the big toe is pushed towards the others - or hammer toes, when the toes align in a deformed V-shape, the Consumer Council says. Fashion victims have been warned to ensure the shoes are properly fitted and not to wear them for too long. Sales assistants said they were unaware of the latest dire warnings. One shopkeeper said his assistants did not give health advice to customers as purchasing decisions were made of 'their own free will'. Some retailers tried their best to convince me the shoes would stretch. I spent two hours scouring Causeway Bay trying to find a pair to fit my size 39 feet, something that proved a problem as most stores only stock up to size 38. I felt like Cinderella's oversized step-sister trying to squeeze my feet into shoes that obviously were too small. Finally, after a two-hour search, I gave up looking and settled for a pair of size 38s that had to be machine-stretched so my feet could slide in and still left my heel hanging over the back. The shop assistant assured me I only had to wear them for one or two days and they would 'fit like a glove'. A road-test of these modern-day instruments of torture left me wondering why women endure something akin to the ancient tradition of foot binding in the name of fashion. Some of the difficulties wearing my newly purchased pointy-toed shoes included: Walking: As I teetered out of the store I felt like an acrobat learning to perform a delicate balancing-act - so practise taking slow small steps first to avoid falling over, and watch where you are going. Riding an escalator: A couple of wobbly moments when I almost felt my legs give way but I managed to recover unscathed. Remember to hold the hand rail. Running for the bus: Too tricky - forget about it unless you are desperate and prepared to lose a shoe or risk bodily injury. Just one hour into the road-test my feet were begging for a rest. Be prepared for the pain.