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Like the breast, barefoot is best!

March 4, 2012

After almost two months of being barefoot practically all the time, I was asked to put on shoes. It was at my daughter’s school, where I had visited and volunteered a few times before sans shoes with no problem. This time I checked in at the office so I could read in her classroom. As I was sent back, the man at the front desk looked down, noticed my feet and then, rather nervously, stopped me and told me that I needed to have on shoes. No big deal, I said. I have a pair in my car. I ran back and put them on.

Still, the event reminded me a lot of my breastfeeding days. I unabashedly breastfed my three children whenever and wherever they needed to eat. Most of the time I had no problems, but in the five-and-a-half total years I spent breastfeeding, I did have a few confrontations. I never backed down—I was entitled to feed my baby and I had the law behind me.

The baby at my breast is my daughter who is now in kindergarten. I was recently asked to put on shoes at her school.

Contrary to popular belief, there are no laws that would prohibit me from going barefoot in public, but as far as I know there are no laws that protect my right to be barefoot either. I can be refused service by private businesses if they decide to enforce their own shoe policy. My daughter’s school has a dress code that requires shoes to be worn “at all times,” apparently by visitors, too. (Although, the dress code also prohibits tank tops and I seriously doubt I would have been stopped and asked to put on a shirt with sleeves had I been sleeveless that day.)

While most of the dress code is understandable, I find the shoe policy unfortunate, given the fact that in the growing years, feet develop best when barefoot:

Research published in podiatry journal The Foot in 2007 suggests that structural and functional changes can result from the foot having to conform to the shape and constriction of a shoe, rather than being allowed to develop naturally. And the younger the foot, the greater the potential for damage…

The human foot at birth is not a miniature version of an adult foot. In fact, it contains no bones at all and consists of a mass of cartilage, which, over a period of years, ossifies to become the 28 bones that exist in the adult human foot. This process is not complete until the late teens


Furthermore, optimum foot development occurs in the barefoot environment, and, therefore, children should be encouraged to partake in barefoot activity.

I would love to send my kids to school barefoot. Shoes are optional at schools in Hawaii, as well as New Zealand, South Africa and Australia—those kids are going to have some healthy, strong and well-formed feet.

Who do my bare feet hurt?
I have gotten into debates with others about the appropriateness of public breastfeeding and I have yet to hear a compelling argument against a mother’s right to feed her hungry baby in public. What it usually comes down to is breastfeeding makes some people uncomfortable so that’s why they think it shouldn’t be allowed in public. Fortunately, the law protects breastfeeding mothers and not Victorian sensibilities.

Since going barefoot I have joined some barefoot forums and have read about all sorts of problems barefooters like me have encountered while in public. As I have read and thought about the issues the shod have with the unshod, I see some parallels to the struggles breastfeeding moms sometimes have in public places. Like breastfeeding, I don’t think there is a compelling argument against barefooting in public. And so I ask the question: Who is hurt by bare feet?

Common responses are usually things like feet stink and spread germs. Science does not back these assertions. Naked feet do not naturally smell any more than your hands. Feet stink when they are crammed in shoes. Athlete’s foot is also a problem for the shod, not the unshod. Fungus needs the dark, moist place provided by shoes to grow. It will not grow on dry feet that spend all their time in the light of day. And unless you plan on licking my soles, my feet are not spreading any more germs on the floor than your shoes. Besides, I wash my feet a couple of times a day. How often do you wash your shoes?

Sure, I think everyone would be better off barefoot, but what you wear on your feet, if anything at all, is really matter of personal choice. I promise not to care about what you put on your feet, if you promise not to be bothered by what I don’t put on mine… Except for Crocs. Now, those are really hideous. 😉


From → Kids

  1. Lisa permalink

    i agree with your view of foot health and that bare feet would be happier and healthier without shoes. i think the issue in public places is not society’s discomfort with your naked feet. it is liability issues with the businesses. unshod feet are unprotected feet. they do not want the liability of anything that could happen to you — from slipping (bare feet slip more easily on slick surfaces) to having your foot injured if something were to fall on it.

  2. BarefootKW permalink

    Hi Shodoff,
    Join us in the Society for Barefoot Living, and our Facebook group as well. We are over 1000 + members and always happy to welcome and support other barefooters!

    Barefoot Kent

  3. i get similar comments when people notice that I wear flip flops almost exclusively in the warmer months and even some in the colder months. The worst consequence I’ve ever noticed from it is how very dirty my feet get and how much more often I have to clean the tub because of my filthy feet standing in it every day. I say good for you for taking a stand on both the breastfeeding and your shodoff lifestyle.

  4. I love my crocs!

  5. Adrienne Robinson permalink

    Witty, very witty, and I cannot argue against your point! Thanks for sharing, Marci!

  6. Michelle permalink

    I say more power to you! But I must digress, I adore my crocs!

  7. I agree with your breastfeeding/barefoot comparisons. Good points.

  8. Thanks Shawn!

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