If you are reading this blog, you are probably interested in the health benefits of going barefoot more often. Maybe you’ve started barefoot running (or you’re thinking about it). Maybe you have a particular foot ailment and found this blog while searching the internet for answers. Maybe you are die-hard “barefooter” and follow anything and everything barefoot.
This blog exists to promote an idea, or actually a simple set of premises:
1. Going barefoot is healthier than wearing shoes in almost all circumstances.
2. Going barefoot should be a non-issue (that is, it should be socially acceptable).
Premise #1 is a fact. It is based firmly on science and a proper understanding of human ambulation. There is simply no dispute that shoes negatively affect our bodies in multiple ways and that going barefoot is both natural and healthy. There are disputes about the safety of going barefoot, but most fears are based on ignorance and misunderstanding, both of which are easily remedied in open-minded people.
Premise #2 is a goal. Most of you reading this blog live in a Western society which generally expects you to wear shoes virtually everywhere, all the time. Fortunately, that expectation is not codified in laws, only in social norms. It is perfectly legal to drive (barefoot) to a shopping mall where you can shop (barefoot) in every store and eat (barefoot) in the food court. For this we can all be truly thankful! However, if you attempt to do this you may run into social resistance, from store managers, security guards, even other customers. I believe the only way we can change this social expectation is to not acquiesce to society’s demand that we put on shoes.
I realize that confrontation is uncomfortable and I recognize that most people don’t even want to become hardcore barefooters, but I also believe firmly that most people want to go barefoot more. Indeed, a facebook poll revealed that 3 out of 4 people would go barefoot in public if it were socially acceptable. News flash: If 75% of us want to do it, it is socially acceptable!
It’s hard to take those first bare steps into the public realm. Nevertheless, it can be done. I routinely drive (barefoot) to my local mall where I shop (barefoot) and eat (barefoot) in the food court. The last time I went to my local mall I was seen by no less than three security guards and none of them said a word to me. Last year, I was escorted to the exit by a guard for being barefoot in that same mall. Times have changed. But why have times changed (and relatively quickly)? It would no doubt be arrogant to think I alone caused this change, but my persistence has surely been a large factor. After my ejection experience last year, I waited a few months and started going back to the mall again (still barefoot). I have done this for every place I’ve ever been ejected. My discovery: they stop hassling me.
If you want going barefoot in public to be an option, I would encourage you to just do it (yes, that’s irony). Nothing is more powerful at turning the tide than your willingness to just do it. Not only is it liberating to you, it’s liberating to those who see you. When (not if) confrontation arises, be ready to educate, but always educate politely. If the discussion turns nasty, you turn… and walk away. Don’t be a jerk; that just gives us barefooters a bad reputation.
So, what’s up with the title of this post? I want you to know that if you long to go barefoot and carefree, you are not alone. Many other people share that longing and we’ve formed groups to share stories, encourage each other, and advocate for the cause. If you’ve made it this far in this post, I encourage you to join the Society for Barefoot Living on facebook (http://www.facebook.com/groups/societyforbarefootliving/). If you want to advocate for barefoot freedom, check out The Primalfoot Alliance and consider how you can help. Finally, if you want to truly understand your feet, how they are supposed to function and how shoes harm us, then of course you should check out my book, The Barefoot Book: 50 Great Reasons To Kick Off Your Shoes.