Going Totally Barefoot; Wait, What?!

posted in People, Running on Apr 28, 2010

I am not a stranger to odd looks and questions. Living in Oklahoma and wearing Vibrams blows many a mind on a regular basis. I have quite a few conversations about them each week both in my office and out in the wild. There are also those fun times when you hear off in the distance “look at those shoes!” and you know they’re talking about you. It’s a blessing and curse, to be perfectly honest, as sometimes I just do not feel like getting into the conversation of why I’m wearing them. I love my Vibrams, but I don’t always want to talk about them when I’m trying to eat lunch. That is a rant for another day. What we’re talking about today, however, is somewhat along those lines: making your feet as naked as possible and how people react.

Birthday Shoes has an interesting post with the founder of Primalfoot Alliance, a site seeking to promote the idea of “letting feet be feet.” Basically they want to get the word out that wearing shoes is lame.

From the article:

Put simply, The Primalfoot Alliance is an advocate for letting feet be feet first. It is meant to be a unified voice for everyone who believes going barefoot is the best way to function, or who desire to ensure that their feet stay healthy by wearing the most primal shoes possible. We believe that the primal foot is one that is allowed to be free of imprudently restrictive, inflexible or gait-altering footwear. Barefoot is best, but we acknowledge that there are times that footwear is a better choice — just like when people sometimes wear gloves.

I enjoy this idea, but it’s not without its hardships:

The absolute first reaction from others when I go barefoot in public is usually confusion, whether good, bad or indifferent. A vast majority of society has a hard time understanding why ANYONE would want to go out in public without some kind of footwear on.

I have been told by management or security at a number of establishments that I need to put on footwear if I wish to continue there. They have cited all kinds of reasons; usually they’re not well thought out.

I’ve had the idea that soonish I would try running totally barefoot; I know people do that and have had success. Would that lead to walking around totally barefoot in…IN PUBLIC?! That remains to be seen, but I feel like it would be an interesting social experiment, especially in Oklahoma where a lot things that are different are met with fear and confusion. Well, that might not be wholly true, but I feel like that is the truth.

With that in mind, I can only assume that the public reaction around here would be a conflation of what we already experience with Vibrams plus the added frustration of not being able to go to certain stores. But we shall see.

Is this a phenomenon that should be left only to the experts (like Britney Spears in public restrooms)? Speaking of which, what about public restrooms? Those are already gross with regular shoes and twice as gross in Vibrams. Unshod sounds like a nightmare. Has anyone who happens to read this gone any long period of time where they painted the town red while being barefoot only? Please let me know, I want to hear about it.

  • TimeTraveler

    “Has anyone who happens to read this gone any long period of time where they painted the town red while being barefoot only”

    My, my. You must be really young and not know anything about what was going on all over the USA during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Going barefoot everywhere was quite a fad for young people, especially young women. Even in New York City, there were young people going barefoot then. On weekends and when not working. Many of us who grew up during that time think nothing of it. Doing an entire summer barefoot, memorial day thru labor day was a fun goal to try to achieve for some teenagers. Not always possible, but some did it. The barefoot girl with bellbottom jeans or very short cutoff shorts wandering about town and shopping was quite the cliche of the early 70s in many parts of the US. You just grew up in the shoe obsessed society of the 1980s and beyond, and have no idea.
    And please learn something about biology – many tests have been done regarding germs in public restrooms. They tested:
    the floor.
    the toilet seats.
    the countertops.
    the faucet handles.
    the doorknobs.

    The floor had the LEAST amount. The worst were the faucet handles, door knobs, and countertops. Toilet seats, believe it or not, were not that bad.
    This was for reasonable, average bathrooms, the kind you would not mind going into. If it’s so bad in there that there is urine and fecal matter on the floor, you should not go in there even with shoes – just look for another bathroom.

  • Garret

    I’m not quite sure what warranted the slightly snide comments there (“My, my. You must be really young and not know anything…” and “And please learn something about biology,” specifically), but thanks for the post.

    I will concede that I do not have intimate knowledge of the goings on of shoe culture in the 60s and 70s, but it is, as you pointed out, a byproduct of my oh-so-unfortunate situation of not being born in those decades.

    Interestingly enough, I have heard of tests regarding bathroom cleanliness. The findings of those do not eschew my hesitations for going into public restrooms barefoot or even with the protection of Vibrams, however. It’s similar to how a dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s, yet I am not especially eager to let a dog lick my mouth.