In addition to my bizarre scheduling and sleeping habits, many people question my footwear preferences. Today’s topic: deciding to give up shoes!
I had never liked wearing shoes, but I didn’t really have the freedom to choose not to while I was in high school. During the summer and then at university, I was free to be basically as eccentric and strange as I wanted. I started being barefoot at home, in class, walking around campus, performing, frolicking, pretty much always. I would estimate that I spend about 98% of my time barefoot, since some restaurants give me a hard time and there’s one specific bus driver who seems to be out to get me and my poor bare feet.
Why be barefoot? I’m a dirty hippie. No but really- it’s more natural, it’s healthy, it’s more comfortable, it’s more relaxing, and most importantly it just makes me happy (fun fact: dirt has lecithin, a mood lifting chemical also found in chocolate- and it can be absorbed through your feet!). I’m not the only one, either- there are lots of us out there! One group is the Primal Foot Alliance- they are barefoot advocates who work hard to prove to the public that there’s nothing gross and unhealthy about feet. Their website has resources explaining why being barefoot is awesome and there’s a great community there and on their Facebook page. Barefooters.org is another great place to meet people close to your home who also choose not to wear shoes.
There are many stereotypes about people who are barefoot- that we’re dirty, poor, sick, unhygienic, socially handicapped, unprofessional- the list goes on. I get all kinds of reactions to my bare feet- in the morning sometimes people think I’m doing the “walk of shame,” sometimes people look at me like I walked out of a sewer, some find it amusing, and others are simply curious and strike up a conversation-usually they’re totally on board and on a few occasions, I got people to join me!
First of all, being barefoot is totally safe. After being barefoot for awhile, you can step on glass without getting hurt- this took me a month or so of being entirely barefoot (some people wean themselves off of shoes gradually, but I never do anything halfway so I just jumped right in). Really, just look where you’re going.
Being barefoot is also far healthier and cleaner than shoes- foot fungus and other unsavory ailments come from sweat trapped around your feet by socks and shoes; they’re not inherently found on feet. Wiggling your toes in the fresh air will eliminate smelliness and unwelcome bacteria! Sure, occasionally you step on something gross- but it’s far easier to flick gum off of a bare foot than scrub if out of a pair of shoes. Not to mention, all of the extra germs you expose your feet to boost your immune system- I haven’t been sick in years.
Humans are just animals- our bodies are engineered to work optimally without extra appendages like clothing and accessories (Coming up next week: why we should stop wearing pants…Just kidding). Your feet will be stronger and more effective without footwear- why do you think people are inventing Barefoot shoes?
After you get used to it, being barefoot is far more comfortable than being shod. Ladies in particular (or gentlemen, no judgment here) will appreciate the lack of pinching around the toes from cute flats and the searing knee pain brought on by dancing around in tall spikes. Walking on gravel and rough surfaces hurts at first but once you get used to it, wandering barefoot through cool grass and on smooth warm dirt makes it worth it. Being barefoot changes your entire mentality- I feel far more relaxed and connected with the world. It’s like I can feel the earth spinning, vibrating, and breathing beneath my feet.
Would you ever go barefoot? Maybe not in a professional environment, but at the park or around your own garden perhaps? Maybe just for a little while?