Whatever happened to "No shirt, no shoes . . . NO DICE!"?!

How do you avoid falling in holes or tripping over curbs or whacking your head on things? You just… train yourself to include scanning the ground with your visual intake of the world around you, slightly more thoroughly than you already do. It’s a little like being a passenger in a car. You’re far less perceptive of conditions and dangers on the road because it’s largely irrelevant, but when you’re the one steering and responsible for protecting yourself, you become more observant. When you’re wearing shoes, something else is protecting you, so mostly you just don’t bother noticing the loogies you’re stepping in.

Well, you’re fine to think that, of course. Personally I think the human foot is no more tacky than the hand or the top of the head, and a whole lot less tacky than flip-flops. Before 1930 you’d have thought it was tacky for a man to be topless at the beach. If we were in a Muslim fundamentalist nation you’d think it was tacky to walk around with your hair uncovered. If we were in Australia we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. It’s only tacky to you because you have a culturally-constructed idea of what’s “couth” in clothing.
You’re fine to think it’s tacky or to look down on someone who forgoes wearing shoes, but it’s just as arbitrary as someone who thinks it’s tacky to wear white shoes after whatever arbitrary date you’re not supposed to wear white shoes anymore.

Of, I don’t know, not being weird.

Seriously now, NajaNivea, I have a question: Where do you live?

I think part of some businesses’ reluctance to cater to barefoot clients may have something to do with how lawsuit-happy America has gotten in recent years. No matter how many signs they put up that say you do business there at your own risk, you and I both know there are assholes that will try to sue the shirt off their backs as soon as they go on barefoot, and through their own clumsiness, step on something sharp. :frowning: The lawsuit loonies have had far too much impact on the way a lot of businesses feel the need to conduct themselves now, imho.

But I still step on things that aren’t really a big deal if you’re wearing shoes. Anyway, streets are really dirty. I can’t imagine where you’d live that your feet wouldn’t be filthy at the end of the day…

Well, I still think a man wearing no shirt not at the beach is pretty tacky. Or a woman wearing low riders and a midriff baring shirt and a huge muffin top. I mean, most people have pretty gross feet as it is–I can’t imagine that walking around barefoot constantly would make them any more visually appealing.

This subject comes up once in a while on barefoot discussion groups. The conclusion generally goes that while there isn’t exactly a rash of motor vehicle accidents involving jammed shoes, there’s certainly a non-zero chance of it happening… so best to toss 'em elsewhere. Besides which, taking your shoes off while driving seems unnecessarily hazardous to me quite aside from where the shoe ends up. Anyway, there are a surprising number of folks who join the discussion groups who rarely or never go barefoot in the “outside” world, but who slip their shoes off in homes or in the car; barefoot driving is a common topic of discussion for folks just beginning to realize that they no longer need to be chained to their footwear (;)).

Anecdotally, on driving barefoot: I wore shoes customarily for a half-dozen years or so and drove all the time wearing them without issue. A few months ago, I arrived at a work site and put on a pair of steel-toed boots to do some work with some unruly livestock. When I was done, I started to drive home without bothering to take them off before getting back into the car. I had to pull over to take them off a few blocks down the road because I couldn’t feel the pedals. I mean, I could tell where they were and when I was pressing down on them, but beyond that, nothing. It felt like trying to handle a horse’s reins wearing boxing gloves. It’s surprising how much information you gather through the soles of your feet, once you become aware of employing them to do so.

It’s also a challenge (for me, anyway) to drive wearing very high heels. My foot doesn’t “sit” naturally the way it normally does. Part of this is because I’m not what you’d call a “natural-born driver” (some people, including my husband, are, I’m convinced); part of it is because I don’t wear very high heels very often. At any rate, if I’m going somewhere dressed up to the point of wearing high heels, I will either slip them off and put them in the back seat while I drive, or wear flats to drive where I’m getting and change into my dress shoes once I get there.

I’ve looked at those links, and have to confess: now I want some foot jewelry! However, I’m pretty sure they’d look silly on a woman my age. :frowning:

I agree wholeheartedly except on the point that being barefoot makes anyone more likely to injure themselves or sue. I understand that’s generally perceived to be true, but not factually so. Foot injuries are one of the single most common sources of “general liability” for retailers. There’s no graceful way to point out that very nearly all of these injuries occur on people wearing shoes. Demanding patrons wear shoes makes the retailer *feel *safer but doesn’t actually reduce their general liability or the frequency of accidents and injuries… unless by chance they’re demanding OSHA standard safety gear, which isn’t usually the case in a retail store. If anything, customarily barefoot people are far more aware of potential hazards, and far more likely to notice and avoid them. But what’ay’gonnado? It’s their right to decide who shops in their store and who doesn’t. I’ll happily spend my money elsewhere, if they prefer it.

Currently on the left edge of the US. I split most of my time between two areas: one is statistically the most conservative and politically right-wing county on the West Coast, and the other is possibly the most socially liberal in the PNW, but in all honesty I’ve traveled on business to major cities all over the country and never really run into “issues” anywhere. At least in my personal experience, public perception of a barefoot person seems to be dictated mostly by the other collective judgments people make about me when appraising my dress and attitude, and far less by geography. I’m generally dressed in a clean and (otherwise) “respectable” manner and conduct myself with good deportment like a young professional, instead of like a dirty hippie or sweaty redneck or street person. People sometimes do the “OMG DIRTY” freakout if I’m wearing casual clothes, but I’ve never yet had anyone froth and fume at me when wearing upscale clothing. It’s as if the “OMG DIRTY” reaction turns into “oh cute, a barefoot girl. She must have broken a sandal strap or something”.

Seriously now, why do you ask?

Right, and I don’t step on those same things, because I’m accustomed to not wearing shoes. You may not notice them, and you may continue to step on things like loogies and dog poo, because you expect your shoes to protect you. I do notice them, and I avoid stepping on them. I’m just better trained to avoid “ick” because it’s relevant to me, that’s all. If keeping the soles of your shoes pristine was important to you, you’d avoid the ick too. You just don’t think it’s a big deal because you’re wearing shoes, so you direct your perceptive capabilities elsewhere.

Not as dirty as you imagine, but that’s why I wash or baby-wipe my feet periodically for cleanliness or appearance’s sake. Just imagine how filthy your shoes are at the end of the day, or however long it’s been since the last time you cleaned them. I guarantee my feet are cleaner than the soles of your shoes.

Well, like I said, no one’s demanding you change your personal sensibilities. I’m just pointing out that it’s an arbitrary standard, set in place by your cultural upbringing. You might think feet are gross, but that’s just your opinion. Personally I don’t think they’re any more gross than noses or hands or ears. Very nearly all of the “grossness” you see in the way of things like foot fungus or bunions or hammertoes or corns are a* direct result of wearing shoes*. Customarily bare feet are healthy feet. I apologize ahead of time if we should ever happen to run across each other at the grocery store, but I just don’t personally feel compelled to wear shoes because some people happen to think they’re an ugly body part. I’m not offended or upset that you think so, I just think it’s silly.

What is this, some sort of top-secret covert shit? Are you guys CIA agents? How come folks who don’t wear shoes, or frequently see people who don’t wear shoes, can’t say where they live? I’m actually curious.

Edit: I saw the response after submitting. The reason I ask is because I’ve probably spent three years out of my entire life in a place where I *could *go outside without shoes.

I don’t think so. I spend most of my social time with women of my mom and grandmother’s generation who are inclined to wear things like foot jewelry… but then like I said, I’m fortunate to live in an area where most people just don’t give a damn about how others clothe and decorate themselves. I don’t mean that people here dress particularly unusually, just that people aren’t generally terribly judgmental when it comes to appearance. Someone wearing something as innocuous as foot jewelry isn’t going to warrant a whole lot of funny looks.

As an aside, something I forgot to mention about the public perception of the “ugliness” of feet. Men seem to have a MUCH harder time “getting away with” being barefoot. Apparently their “ugly” feet raise more objections than female bare feet. No studies, obviously, just the collective perception of the barefoot masses. Men seem get thrown out of places or barred from entrance far more often. If it’s moderately socially unacceptable for a woman to be barefoot, it’s really socially unacceptable for men to be podiatrically unrestrained. :frowning:



Accidental double post deleted!

Nope, but we almost ended up moving there this last year. :slight_smile:

NajaNivea covered everything I would need to say (and is a better barefooter than I am), but barefooting is awesome and fun, and who cares if your feet getter dirty? That’s what soap and water are for.

I’m too self-conscious and shy to barefoot often.

Well, it just seems like a lot of work to wash your feet every time they get dirty. I’d rather just wear shoes and take them off when I’m inside.

Well, we’re not talking a full-on pedicure, here. It’s more like the occasional attentive minute with a baby-wipe. Anyway, it’s probably more trouble for me to wash my hands periodically throughout the day than to just wear a pair of gloves and take them off when I get home, but being bare-handed provides me with a fair amount of sensory perception and dexterity that I would miss. Plus, being bare-handed is just more comfy and I simply prefer it that way. Still and all, I don’t look down on folks whether they choose to wear gloves or not; it doesn’t affect me either way.

It’s gotta be Arcata. My sister lives there.

I’m not a barefooter myself (although your indoor comment makes me wonder). I looked into it because I prefer to be shoeless indoors* and in the (grassy) yard, etc. One thing I’ve always wondered is the prevalence of barefooting in northern (colder) or southern (hotter) climates, etc. I know that around here, I made the decision to wear shoes because the pavement will oftentimes be hot enough to literally cook an egg. How do you get around that, or frozen ground, or torrential freezing rain, etc.? I’ve not gotten the opportunity to talk to a live barefooter before. Truthfully, I’d probably be more of a barefooter if I wasn’t so temperature sensitive, or if I lived somewhere where it was around 75 degrees F year-round.

  • I was raised overseas for a time in Japan, and I became used to removing my shoes upon entering a home or restaurant, and many other business-type places.

Most people are, to one extent or another. There was a long discussion a while back about the definition of “barefooter”. Someone finally came up with a 1-10 spectrum where a “1” never allows their bare feet to contact any surface, stepping into house slippers immediately out of bed (maybe even sleeps in socks), while a “10” on the scale never wears shoes except under the most dire of circumstances. Most people in the real world fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. As I recall, barefoot indoors and on home property with “occasional barefoot forays to the park, beach etc” is smack in the middle of the “barefoot spectrum”. The point is, if you enjoy being barefoot at any time or place, you can call yourself a barefooter :wink:

I don’t know the stats around the world, but equatorial climates are perfect places to be a full-time barefooter, socially speaking.
You do lose some of the sensitivity over time, just like with any other skin formerly kept under strict wraps. At first I hobbled down my driveway or would hop back and forth between the grass and the sidewalk to cool my feet off. A month or two into my first barefoot summer as an adult I made a quick dash across a paved street in >100* weather and blistered my soles (ouch). Fortunately, I live in a temperate rainforest, so I really only have a few weeks out of each year where the weather is “extreme” enough to be dangerous in either direction. Crossing blacktop like in a parking lot or a crosswalk, you just stick to the painted lines as much as possible. If it’s truly, wickedly hot or there’s actual ice on the ground… well, it just depends. Most of the time I can get away with wearing half-sole dancing shoes and kinda trotting on the (protected) balls of my feet when necessary, but really this whole barefoot thing is all about comfort. I go barefoot partly because I enjoy the sensations of being barefoot. If at any point it becomes more comfortable to wear sandals or mocs or fluffy socks and snow boots then I just go ahead and wear them. I’m not super-militant about it or anything. I kind of enjoy the challenge though, so conditions have to be pretty bad before I’m happier in a shoe than on the ground.

**Most **people look where they are going and avoid stepping in dog crap or big wads of spit. I wouldn’t want to step on those with or without shoes. But how do you avoid things like broken glass or splinters? Do you live in a large city or out in the country? I live in Manhattan and if I were to see someone walking on the sidewalk with no shoes on (who wasn’t homeless) it would just be bizarre.

You just… step around them. And don’t shuffle or drag your feet along wooden boardwalks. Glass of the dangerous sort is fairly easy to see. When I first ditched the shoes I’d make a wide berth around anything glittery. Once your soles are reasonably acclimated, glass just isn’t that dangerous, and I don’t encounter it very often. Also, it rains here about ten months out of the year, so it’s not like there’s scary minefields of microscopic, invisible glass shards lying in wait to razor up my feet. As far as splinters… I got a splinter once, I just picked it out with a needle or a pair of tweezers or something. I assure you, there really just aren’t that many dangerous obstacles out in the real world, and toughened soles are fairly impervious anyway.

A couple hundred thousand people, but I’ve barefooted my way around all sorts of major cities. Never been to NYC though.

Cool microscopic eyes! Can spot fungal spores from above, never need to fear athlete’s foot! Can see the difference between regular street grime and the film of dog poo that washed over the sidewalk in the rain!