I have been criticized for going barefoot and “letting” my kids go barefoot, but I know it’s the best. So do many other people. The latest support came to me from the Zen Habits website which posted this article that I almost couldn’t bother to read because it was boringly obvious to me! But I wanted to share it, so I had to make sure the whole thing was good.
The only strange thing about the article was the suggestion that feeling naked while going barefoot is scary but exhilarating. I don’t feel exposed when I go barefoot because I’ve done it all my life and have long embraced the sensibility of it. I think I’d have to be fully naked outside to feel that way. I went skinny dipping once, in a pool, at night, with a boyfriend. That was somewhat scary (it was a pool at a house he was watching for people who were out of town) and definitely exciting. Going barefoot just feels like freedom and comfort to me.
I haven’t gone as far as barefootedness in stores/restaurants/libraries, though I was impressed to find there are people who really do go barefoot almost everywhere (safe). I do like the way shoes protect feet, and being barefoot on a store floor sounds gross to me. I know that’s probably not the case; I guess we all have weird hang ups. I love being barefoot outside though, and the only time I wear shoes in my house is when I’m about to go out or have just walked in the door. One of the first things I do, within seconds, when I come home is remove my shoes.
One of my all time favorite sites is Parents For Barefoot Children, which is where I first learned, several years ago, that there are many people in the world who believe strongly in this. I thought I was just following a lifetime habit and maybe being natural-minded too. Until I found these unshod people online I was frustrated by the ridiculous attachment some people have to shoes. It’s ridiculous when they unthinkingly criticize other people for shoelessness. At that website I found even more reasons to go barefoot than I knew of. It’s even healthier!
I try to keep my kids in shoes at the park, but I completely sympathize with their desire to go barefoot, so I just keep telling them to watch out for sharp things. Several times I have shown them actual examples of sharp items so they see what I’m talking about (and then we throw those out of reach of bare feet!) I have insisted my toddlers wear shoes at the park, because they’re more likely to not notice sharp dangers, but even they can go barefoot with close supervision in the playground. My older kids, with lots of experience going barefoot, have never hurt themselves running around in bare feet. Shoes are not an issue in my family because they’re learning first hand where it hurts to walk barefoot (our asphalt driveway in the summer, for instance) and the girls have developed the ability to think ahead when they are going out, to decide whether they want shoes, jacket, a good book to pass the time, etc.
While searching for the last website, I found the Society For Barefoot Living, which I’m not sure I’ve ever seen before. Be sure to check out their blog. The first page of the site, Quick Facts, reminded me of how I even remove my shoes for driving in warm weather. I started doing that on the drives home from teaching, over a decade ago. Anyone who has had a job that involves standing and meandering most of the day can probably imagine how good it felt to remove shoes as soon as possible afterward. When I first started doing it I realized, too, that I could feel the pedals so much better. Seems like that would make driving barefoot safer than driving with shoes!
I’m amused by the new shoe products available mimic barefootedness. I don’t think I’ll bother. For those times I want a sole to protect me, I’ll wear sandals, and when its too cold for my southern California blood in these Virginia winters, I enjoy my roomy slouchy boots. But I when I want to go barefoot, I will have bare feet!
Thanks Mom, for never making me put on shoes, and for modeling healthy barefoot living.