First of all let me confess I wear shoes when I go out to avoid being arrested as a madman.
For the first 23 years of my life though I mostly did not wear shoes. I lived in a warm country and in fact in the community in which I lived, uncorrupted by “civilization”, wearing shoes was looked on as rather an affectation, not worthy of a civilized human being. A parallel I guess would be a white person in the Western world walking around in an African costume.
So why do we need shoes? In a cold climate we need shoes like we need gloves, and warm clothes to keep away the cold. Even that fact stands a bit naked when we know from historical records that a great many people in the past lived in cold climates without shoes. Slaves were not allowed to wear shoes in ancient Rome. Shoes at one time were considered a mark of civilization and superiority. I laugh when I see restaurants even today banning barefoot customers “in the interest of hygiene”. With shoes you will still pick up dog shit but you wouldn’t know it.
So why do we need shoes when it is warm? It is like holding an umbrella over your head when it is not raining. As I said before, we wear shoes to avoid being arrested or for fear of being laughed at. As to your delicate tootsies getting hurt, don’t fret about it. Feet are meant to be used for walking on earth. They adopt so quickly. I used to walk on sharp gravel, I used to climb rocks and run along hard granite shores; we chased each other through trees and brushwood. Thorns were a minor irritation which we picked off. So when I came to a ‘civilized’ country and wore shoes it felt like mud had dried on my feet. An insensitive clod lump molded to my feet. I went about ‘clop, clop’ my ankles working out what to do with this new appendage, my brain unable to understand why with each step the sensations in my feet did not change. Shoes are, whether they are made of rubber, leather or plastic, insensitive, brutal appendages.
Have you noticed when you walk barefoot in the park or on the beach how delicately you step and how you have a poise you do not have with shoes, especially wedged or heeled shoes which tip you forward? With shoes your whole skeletal structure assumes an unnatural position trying to balance you on your wedges. It is like standing permanently on uneven rocks. More than any other item of clothing, shoes thus have a permanent effect on your posture and do structural damage to your skeleton.
The profit makers of course have cottoned on to this before the rest of us and they have now invented shoes with climate control, cruise control, shock absorbers, ventilators, and sensor pads to bring them closer to the bare foot, in the process charging us upwards of £150 for the pleasure of owning a pair. They still have not got it right, for with these air filled wedges we run unnaturally, pounding our heels on the tarmac instead of lightly balancing on the balls of our feet and thus projecting ourselves forward.
As to women’s shoes, all heeled and peeled and spangly, I don’t know what to say. Such is taste and fashion. But let me finish with a story.
I used to, in my early days as a nurse work on a women’s ward with old people. These were women who would have been flappers in the 1920s or ’30s. They used to wear cruelly sharp shoes with pointed toes and deadly heels. When I cared for them they were in their eighties living in long term care. When washing these women we found their toes were so fused together, we could not separate them to wash them properly. Rather like those Chinese we used to hear about with bound feet. One reason may be that not all women of the time had large bath tubs to sit in and spread out and wash their toes. When most of your personal cleaning is done standing at the sink and having a strip wash this may be a factor why their toes were so neglected, but having said that, women beware those killer heels. They may be more “killer” than you think!
Besides, there are oodles of benefits in going barefoot. Walking barefoot is scientifically tied to anti-cancer, anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-oxidant effects. It is supposed to have beneficial effects on your heart, blood pressure, mood, internal organs etc. Feet root you to the earth and you benefit from the electric charges the earth gives you so much so they are now making shoes with copper wires in them to sell to you. The benefits are all over uncle google, spread out like sticky jam, but check this site for a start:
‘In the wilderness you have to scream to be heard’, thus said the women who were burning their bras in the 70’s. In a similar fashion I am trying to literally frighten you out of your shoes.
Go for a walk in the park barefoot while it is still legal to do so!