Public

Don’t you wish you could go barefoot all the time? There are actually “full-time” barefooters who haven’t worn shoes in years, nor do they own any. Going barefoot in public can be an intimidating and liberating experience.

If you do decide to venture out and bare your feet to the world, there will some who feel the need to warn you about sidewalks littered with diseases and hypodermic needles. Such comments almost always come from people who aren’t educated about the benefits and risks of going barefoot. Yes, there may be some broken glass, but the human foot becomes surprisingly tough with practice and will be able to handle such “dangers” quite fine.

Wearing shoes has really become a social construct. Yes, shoes are tools and are at times useful, but most places where shoes are worn pose no danger to the feet. The development of the shoe throughout history has been almost entirely developed around fashion rather than foot health. Shoes were worn in ancient cultures for decoration or a symbol of status to distinguish oneself from the working laborer.

It may be a surprise to some that other developed countries like Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and even in parts of the United States, going barefoot is common practice, and sometimes even encouraged.

Barefoot Students Class Photo in South Africa

Barefoot Students Class Photo in South Africa

Barefoot Students wash their feet before returning to class in New Zealand

Barefoot Students wash their feet before returning to class in New Zealand

Barefoot Students in class in New Zealand

Barefoot Students in class in New Zealand

Dealing with confrontation

Unfortunately, going barefoot in some societies is frowned upon and bare feet are viewed as “gross” by some. It is completely legal to go barefoot in public and to enter stores and restaurants, but store owners and managers may ask you to leave their premises. One reason for this is for insurance and liability reasons. Those who go barefoot should accept risks and responsibilities that go with being bare, but sometimes injuries must be reported, and store owners would rather not take any chances. It’s somewhat ironic considering the dangers of some high heels and slippery flip-flops. Another reason may be the belief that health codes disallow bare feet in the premises, when no such laws exist.

When dealing with confrontation, I believe the best advice is be polite and help educate. When to stand your ground will depend on the place and person. Some would rather not deal with confrontation at all, while others view going barefoot as a basic human right. Some barefooters have had success by offering to sign liability waivers. Arguing may not end well, and may leave a bad image for fellow barefooters. Even if you do leave a premises, you can still leave the other person with some education and something to think about. You may even want to hand out cards or brochures. If you ever return to the premises, you’ll be on a much better note than if you had argued during your first visit.

Places that you visit frequently may be more accepting of your bare feet, as you and the managers/employees will be familiar with each other.

One trick to avoid confrontation is by wearing barefoot sandals. Barefoot sandals are decorative material that you wear on top of your feet to make it appear as if you are wearing sandals, when you are actually barefoot. Wearing jeans may also help by covering the ankles and part of the foot.