This picture makes its rounds around blogs & forums recently:

enter image description here

Does it have any scientific backing?

  • 1
    I'll point out that as-presented, this only really helps with european-heritages. There's no African, Asian, South American, etc. foot shapes. So while there may or may not be some truth to this, it's by no means comprehensive. (Still researching whether there is that grain of truth.)
    – Bobson
    Commented Aug 11, 2014 at 19:41
  • 4
    Unsourced answer, based on reddit: The names are based on the style of toes in that culture's statues. Can't verify it, but someone might be able to use that as a jumping off point.
    – Bobson
    Commented Aug 11, 2014 at 20:00
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    Shouldn't be too hard to find sources for this, but for most people, the #1 cause of the shape of your feet is the shape of your shoes.
    – Mark
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 7:55

1 Answer 1


There is no scientific backing for this classification.

What is referenced as "Greek" is actually called Morton's toe (name derived from the surgeon who described is as a foot syndrome), but it's so common that this congenital short first metatarsal bone is considered a normal variant of foot shape.

In statuary and shoe fitting it has been called Greek foot, because it was an idealized form in Greek sculpture. It also persisted as an aesthetic standard through Roman and Renaissance periods:

enter image description here

Greek bronze statue of boxer at rest | © Joseph Uj/Flickr

The relative length of the big and second toes varies continuously, so there aren't just two categories of toe length. The mechanisms that determine how Morton's toe is inherited are determined by more than one gene, or by a combination of genetics and the environment. These mechanisms haven't proven to be specific to a geographic area, as referenced by Kaplan.

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