Free your soles!

Free your soles! Go barefoot. Have you ever noticed how evangelistic and intolerant people are towards barefooting and the barefoot lifestyle? I was reading a Globe and Mail article just recently, one of the interviewees in the article (an acquaintance from a newgroup I belong to) was quoted as saying …

“One thing I can tell you is I’m gay and it’s much easier to come out to people as gay than coming out to people as a barefooter,”

Have you ever heard such a sad statement? It is absolutely amazing, the intolerance, scorn and insidious whispering judgment that you run into going around town as a barefooter. Nay sayers often tout the infamous “there are health and safety regulations” or “It’s against the law to be in here without shoes”, yet no internet search engine ever returned a web page that pointed to a law, regulation, bylaw or other statute in that regard. The NSNSNS idiom is a dress code put up by proprietors and store managers who are predisposed to believing that everyone barefoot is somehow unclean or derelict or a rebel out to wind up society by being a rebel.

Here’s a question for nay sayers, shopping in a supermarket (full of good shoe wearing shopers) you notice that a plum (or perhaps an apple or an asparagus bunch) drops to the floor, rolls around for a bit only to be picked up and placed back on the stand by one of the shoppers. Would you knowingly but that piece of fruit (or veggie)? How does being barefoot change this scenario in any way? The answer of course is no you wouldn’t knowingly buy it and no being barefoot doesn’t change it in any way.

Here’s another thought, cost. What does an eight inch long, four inch wide, one-half inch thick bit of cork cost? Is there anything in a $250 pair of Nike runners or a $1000 pair of Laboutin pumps that could possibly justify the price? Unless you are a slave to fashion and so horribly concerned about having the latest greatest fashion styles to brag about, I would say no there is not. Consumer footwear is one of the more ridiculously priced fashion items. Kids are bullied at school because they don’t have the right sneakers, young girls spend many distraught hours worrying whether their high heel pumps are the “in” fashion or simply last years.

We attach all sorts of meaning and status to our footwear in modern society. You can’t look professional and work in the bank wearing your canvas sneakers or your flip flops. You can’t wear last years shoe fashions, that simply won’t do. Yet in some circles we can rebel (ever slightly), such as at University where professors are known to wear sandals, but they must be Birkenstocks (the aforementioned $100+ piece of cork) or similar not cheap flip flops! Barefoot though? That’s banned, you can’t enter University buildings barefoot. Shoes (and footwear in general) serves two purposes really, fashion and protection. We have covered fashion, now consider protection, would you consider wearing oven gloves all day everyday in summer? Would you wear your winter gloves all summer? Again the answer is no. So why would you encase your feet in socks and shoes all year round, indoors and out? If you are a construction worker, mechanic or someone else who works in a profession with obvious dangers to your feet, absolutely put shoes on. You wouldn’t ride a motorcycle without a helmet, you wouldn’t dig a ditch without safety boots. It only makes sense. Walking down a sun warmed sidewalk in summer? Doing banking at the local bank or maybe enjoying a pint with friends at your local? Shed the shoes, go barefoot. Your feet will thank you.

Walking barefoot is natural, healthy, better for you feet, tendons, ankles and your posture. It puts you in touch with your environment in a way that the thinnest of shoes or sandals can not. You can feel the texture of the grass, sand, carpet and (yes) concrete on which you walk. You can feel the warmth and the coolness of the ground. It’s green, cleansing and self-cleaning (a walk in the rain clean all road dust from your soles) and lightens your soul. Tender feet you say? Tender feet come from wearing shoes, not from taking them off. The more you walk barefoot the easier it becomes. Try it for a week, see if you ever put shoes on again. I dare you.

The article in Globe and Mail.


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