Tuesday, July 19, 2011



I’ve been living barefoot for a long time now. In fact, I’ve been going barefoot long enough to “mature” somewhat as a “barefooter.” Lately, lots (and I mean LOTS) of new barefooters have been coming to me for advice and here’s something I’ve noticed: all of them are frustrated and many of them are acting like jerks. Looking back it’s painfully obvious to me that I also acted like jerk when I first started barefooting. Let me explain...

Going barefoot is natural and healthy; wearing shoes is unnatural and unhealthy. When a person first makes that discovery and begins taking his or her first bare steps into a new way of living, they often feel liberation, exhilaration and sometimes evangelistic. They have had an “ah ha” moment after all, a life-changing epiphany. They realize that they have discovered something wonderful and transforming while everyone else around them is still in the dark. Those unenlightened, shoe-touting people that surround them constantly warn of the hazards of going barefoot, of the necessity of good support, of the diseases just waiting to get picked up, of the laws and health codes that prohibit free feet… all the things the new barefooter has just discovered is absolutely untrue and indeed completely opposite from reality. This, this is the source of their frustration.

Then their frustration is magnified by intolerance. For all the self-praise we heap on ourselves for being a tolerant nation, we are shockingly intolerant of bare feet. No one enjoys being confronted, especially by a complete stranger in front of other people, but when you first start going barefoot in public in the USA confrontations are almost guaranteed to happen. As a culture we seem to celebrate the unnatural (such as tattoos, body piercings, industrial diets and walking on 6-inch high heel stilts)* while reproving the natural and healthy (like going barefoot). Unfortunately, for many of us, confrontation brings out the jerk in us. We are confronted and we retaliate, feeling wrongfully mistreated because we know, after all, that we are right. We are angered because that idiot restaurant manager should know the health codes that govern his business, right?

Confrontations led by emotions like these are bound to backfire. What started as a relatively minor incident (in the mind of the manager, not the barefooter who was already terrified in the parking lot) has now exploded into a major ordeal that Mr. Manager will not soon forget. Bare feet are now officially banned and on the radar. You, the barefooter, have blown it and you and your feet are not welcome here.

There’s a better way to handle these confrontations.

Going barefoot is a joy, or at least it should be. Don’t let the ignorance of those brainwashed into believing all the wrong things about feet and shoes steal that joy away from you. It’s so easy for both parties in a confrontation to become defensive and argumentative. Resist this urge. Instead, always try to educate with joy bubbling from your feet and a huge smile on your face. It’s not about proving you are right, it’s about liberating another person, planting a seed of revelation in them that can grow. You will often have to retreat before the other person will hear you, but in this case retreat is not defeat. Leave them with some information to chew on. If you care this much about going barefoot, then take the time to make a business card or brochure (or use the ones already available on the internet). Most of all, leave them impressed with how happy and polite you are, not with the feeling of ‘what a jerk’ that barefoot person was. Remember that you were once a brainwashed, shoe-wearing person, too.

Go barefoot. Go happy. 

PS. Here’s another little secret about public barefooting: You can go into a store one day and be kicked out, then go back the next day and be accepted. Whether you are accepted or rejected depends largely on who is working that day and what kind of mood they’re in… unless you put up a fight. Then, you will always be rejected… banned and on the radar. Don’t fight!

*For the record, I have nothing against tattoos or piercings, I’m merely pointing out that they are unnatural.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Shoes: A Public Health Hazard

In The Barefoot Book I compared wearing shoes to smoking cigarettes. While this is an obvious exaggeration, there is truth in the comparison: both shoes and cigarettes are unhealthy and lead to physical and functional maladies in the body.

In the 1950’s a few doctors first proposed that tobacco was a health hazard, especially Dr. Ernst L. Wynder. In a panic, the major tobacco companies set up puppet research centers in 1954 that spent more money on propaganda than medical study. Phillip Morris tried to “buy” Dr. Wynder for forty years but without success, thanks to the integrity of this great scientist. Even as late as the 1990’s the tobacco giant Brown & Williamson conducted a massive smear campaign against Dr. Jeffery Wigand, one of their executives-turned-whistle-blower on the industry’s efforts to hide the dangers of tobacco. Today, however, the risks of tobacco are common knowledge and public health has improved dramatically with the concomitant disuse of cigarettes and other tobacco products.

Presently, I’m asserting that shoes are a public health hazard. As far as I can tell, shoes are responsible for at least 90% of the foot maladies we suffer from in America. While many podiatrists continue to insist that shoes are “necessary” and members of the general public jeer and mock my position (See my Mean People Suck post), they are all on the wrong side of the medical facts. Given this truth, I hope that fifty years from now most people will be going barefoot much more often than they do today.

Be ahead of the curve. Go barefoot for better health.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

TOMS Burning Candle at Both Ends

Many of us in the barefooting movement have done considerable research on TOMS, “Inc.” and believe that founder Blake Mycoskie exemplifies the very worst of capitalism. Many people mistakenly think his for-profit company is a charity. His method of tugging on people’s heartstrings to make a buck (or a million) has been blogged about before [1], but now Blake has sunk to a new low. His “charity” has always been implicitly (if not explicitly) Christian. I personally heard the man speak at a Catalyst Conference several years ago where he attested to the Christian impetus behind his work. For those who don’t know, Catalyst is self-described as “the leadership filter for what’s next in the church” and is one of the largest annual gatherings of Christian leaders in the United States. Mycoskie is slated to speak at the conference again this year in October.

But it seems that Mycoskie is just as disingenuous with his religious principles as he is in business and is now caught with his candle burning at both ends. The founder of TOMS appeared at an event hosted by Focus on The Family to lure them into a distribution partnership, but when his friends on the left discovered this they balked. Subsequently, Mycoskie apologized for rubbing elbows with Focus! He said, “Had I known the full extent of Focus on the Family’s beliefs, I would not have accepted the invitation to speak at their event." The extent of their beliefs is that they focus on the traditional family. Of course Mycoskie, a member of Mosaic church in LA, knows fully the beliefs of Focus. His appearance and subsequent “apology” only demonstrate that Mycoskie is happy to play on both sides of the fence in order to sell, er, donate, another shoe.

Well, Mycoskie, your Christian charity has been busted for not being a charity, and now you're busted for not being Christian. Eventually, you’re going to run out of wax.

PS. A Day Without Dignity is a great video about why “charities” like TOMS are bad for local economies.


Crime & Punishment... The Barefoot Way (Revisited)

Shut down by a barefoot woman
(I originally blogged on this last year… hence the “revisited.”)

A member of the Society for Barefoot Living (SBL) was told recently by a cafeteria manager that the cafeteria would be *shut down* if the health department found him in there barefoot. I myself have been told the exact same thing by a restaurant manager. Either this is a standard line you learn in food management school, or this is one seriously common myth.

As far as I know, for every law in the United States, it is the person who breaks the law who pays the penalty. It works that way for theft, murder, tax evasion... everything. Except apparently for the health code "laws" that regulate restaurants and businesses. Evidently in those cases, person X (restaurant manager) loses his business and his job because person Y (restaurant customer) committed a “crime.” This is ludicrous. How can anyone think such a thing?

What if person Y goes into the cafeteria not only barefoot, but completely 100% just-like-the-day-he-was-born naked? What happens to the cafeteria then? Well, nothing. Mr. Nudie, however, will probably get metal bracelets to wear (at least, in most parts of the USA). The person who commits the crime, does the time.

Silly. But many, many people believe the law works differently when you're barefoot.