Deena Cortese, a former star of MTV’s late 2000s reality show “Jersey Shore,” has a message for everyone harassing her to put shoes on her 1-year-old son: Back off. She revealed in a post on social media her son has a condition that makes it impossible for him to wear a shoe on his right foot.
Cortese posted on Instagram that her son, CJ, has a condition called “metatarsus adductus,” which means he was born with the front half of his feet turned inward. She said his right foot is an “extreme case and he literally cannot get a shoe on."
“This is the experience of almost every parent, which is the world loves to criticize how we do it. They often don’t have the full story."
She said because of that, CJ often wears just socks and booties, but other moms have been messaging her to complain and correct her.
“I’ve been getting a lot of messages about CJ's feet, how he walks and other mothers ridiculing me for not putting shoes on him at 1 years old. Please before messaging me telling me what I should do or asking and making comments about why he’s not wearing shoes, maybe ask if I’ve already looked into what you see could be wrong, because more than likely I have. Anything you guys notice about my son, I most likely noticed it before anyone else,” she wrote in a long post. “I just didn’t think it was necessary to let anyone know why his feet went the way they do, or the reason he’s not wearing shoes.”
TODAY Parents spoke with two doctors about the condition Cortese’s son has, and both said most kids eventually grow out of it. Sometimes, in extreme cases, kids will get treated for the condition.
“If it’s a severe metatarsus adductus, which is actually quite rare, you can put a cast on to try to stretch out the sort-of curve of that foot,” Dr. Kali Tileston, an orthopedic surgeon at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford, explained to TODAY Parents. “You need that stretch to improve the position of the foot over time.”
She added most kids who have metatarsus adductus find their feet are positioned correctly by the time they turn 4.
“In adulthood, they all have good, functional abilities — running, jogging, that sort of thing,” she said.
Cortese, in her post Tuesday, wrote her son will be fitted for braces he will wear overnight.
Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson, a pediatric doctor in Wisconsin, said for a child learning to walk such as CJ, not wearing shoes is actually a good thing.
“When a child is beginning to walk they’re using their toe grip a lot for their balance,” she explained. “Shoes are really for conditions when we go into terrain where we don’t want the terrain to hurt our feet.”
Swanson said a stiff shoe sole would make it harder for a child learning to walk. She added it was unfair for people to be tearing Cortese down for how she is raising her child.
“This is the experience of almost every parent, which is the world loves to criticize how we do it,” she said. “And they often don’t have the full story… I would also just say this mom needs support. The world likely just doesn’t understand.”
That sentiment echoed Cortese's Instagram post.
“You shouldn’t call mothers out by telling them what they should do before knowing or asking for facts first,” Cortese wrote. “I appreciate the concerning messages, but... that doesn’t make a mother feel great.”