I run a website selling pointe shoes, and I cop a lot of flack from ballet teachers who say that's wrong, because students should never buy pointe shoes without a personal fitting.

That statement is so out of touch with reality, it's not funny.

I agree that in an ideal world, every student would be expertly fitted every time they buy new pointe shoes, from the moment they start en pointe until their early twenties. If we could implement that practice, we could dramatically reduce discomfort, pain, bunions and foot injuries. But it's not realistic, because there simply aren't enough pointe shoe fitters in the world. There aren't even enough ballet shops for them to work in!

I speak from experience. When I was a teenager, I lived in a major town, ranking in the top five towns in Scotland. Even so, the local dance shop didn't stock pointe shoes. To get my first Pointe Shoespointe shoes, I went to the shop, they drew a pencil outline of my foot, noted my shoe size and mailed off the order. A week or so later I got a pair of pointe shoes from Freed. No trying the shoes on in the shop or advising me whether they fitted – I just had to learn to live with them!

Ah, you say, but that was in the dark ages – there are more dance shops around now. I thought so too, but just last week I got an email from a student in Australia. She lives in a large town too, of several hundred thousand people – but still, her local dance shop doesn't stock pointe shoes. Her story sounded so familiar – all you do is go to the shop, they consult a size chart and send an order off to Bloch.

If a girl living in a large city can't find a dance store that offers proper pointe shoe fittings, what about all the students who live in the country? There must be millions of girls out there for whom visiting a ballet store is completely impractical – pointe shoes are expensive enough, without expecting your mother to take you hundreds of miles to the nearest shop!

So, given there must be so many dancers out there who have no choice but to buy pointe shoes online or by mail, it makes sense to provide as much information as possible, so they can make the best possible decision in the circumstances. And that's what I've set out to do.