Going barefoot - the basics

by Jonathan Y

Going barefoot is fun and healthy

Going barefoot, even in public, is not against the law. You probably know that already; but did you know that it's also conducive to a healthier and happier life? Read on to find out how.

Bare your feet and live life to the fullest!

Here are some of the most common concerns people have about going barefoot.

Health concerns

Afraid to get your feet dirty? Of course, your feet are gonna get dirty if you walk barefoot outside your house but that's part of the fun. Believe it or not, quite a few barefooters (myself included) think it's fun and cool to have dirty feet. And if you don't like it you can always wash them as often as you like throughout the day which is no big deal.

Now compare that to wearing shoes all day long. If your feet sweat, at the end of the day you (and whoever else is near you) probably won't be able to stand the smell. Yuck! And how often do you actually wash your shoes? Not very often I bet, 'cos you would ruin them. So the inside of your $h0*s (yes, it's a dirty word to us barefooters :p) becomes a culture medium for all sorts of bacteria and fungi (germs) which love warm, moist, and dark places! So do you now see why going barefoot is actually healthier?

What about "athlete's foot?" Some say you get it by walking barefoot in locker rooms. Well, what happens is most people put on their $h0*s before leaving the locker room. So whatever fungus your bare soles picked up will thrive inside your $h0es and cause problems. But if you were to remain barefoot the fungus won't last long in dry air.

Another concern I keep hearing is that you can get parasitic (e.g. worm) infection by walking barefoot outdoors. This mostly happens in under-developed countries where parasites abound and sanitation is very poor, and you walk around barefoot on soil contaminated with human feces. I know, gross! So if you live in a modern developed country this shouldn't be a concern.

While we're on the subject of health, I should also mention that most, if not all, of the foot problems caused by wearing shoes such as calluses, hammer toes, bunions, and other foot deformities can be prevented and alleviated by going barefoot. In addition, some people who have flat feet have noticed improvements after they go barefoot for a while.

Yet another health benefit of going barefoot is grounding or earthing. It's a relatively new discovery that connecting to the earth's natural energy by going barefoot (or some other methods) can help you live a healthy and balanced life. We won't go into details about it here, you can Google it if you're interested. But the bottom line is, going barefoot is healthy!

OK, moving on... Stepping on sharp objects. I have to admit this is a tough one. Everything carries a risk but many people are willing to take risks for the fun and thrill of doing certain things like bungee jumping, sky diving, mountain climbing, or car racing. The risk of dying or getting seriously hurt from stepping on sharp objects while walking barefoot is much, much less than that of the aforementioned activities.

First of all, after going barefoot on a regular basis for a while, your feet become tough; the skin of your soles grows thicker and more resistant to sharp objects that they most likely won't even penetrate. Second of all, a seasoned barefooter is usually more alert and sensitive to the surrounding that often times they "instinctively" avoid stepping on sharp objects and other harmful or yucky stuff like chemicals, bugs, animal doodoo, etc.

On the rare occasion that you do step on a sharp object and get hurt, it's really not that big a deal. You most likely won't die :) Just wash the wound clean with soap and water, alcohol, or other antiseptic solutions you have and then put on some antibiotic ointment and a band-aid to cover it. If it's a small cut, you most likely can continue walking barefoot with the band-aid on until it heals completely. Otherwise, you may have to put up with wearing sandals for a couple of days.

Disclaimer: I'm not a doctor, and I'm not giving you medical advice. The above is based on my personal experience and what I learned from various sources.

One very important thing is to keep your tetanus shots current. This is important even if you don't go barefoot regularly. Hey, even your finger could get cut doing manual things, right?

Let's take a little break and watch this short video about The Barefoot Book.

Social  concerns

What about being ridiculed or looked down upon by others? Well firstly, there is nothing immoral, disgraceful, or even improper about going barefoot, even in public. It's not like you walk around with no clothes on. Your feet are bare and just like your hands, they are NOT private parts although some people like to think they are (it's their loss, though!). Going barefoot is not against any religion. In fact, some religions actually encourage it.

Secondly, while it's true that in many third world countries people are always barefoot because they can't afford shoes (that's actually one way they enjoy life despite their circumstances), there are places such as Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, most parts of Hawaii, and some parts of the Southern US where going barefoot in public is quite common and accepted.

People walking barefoot in public in New Zealand
These are not poor countries or regions, and folks walk around barefoot in public as a matter of personal choice, and others are ok with it. In Hawaii I very often see people driving nice cars and wearing nice clothes walk barefoot into stores. Besides, most homeless people actually wear something on their feet.

Now, what about being considered "crazy" for going barefoot in public? If by that you mean being eccentric or a little weird, so what? Most people have their own idiosyncrasies that make them different from others. Just look at the celebrities :) It's no big deal to be different and actually cool as long as you don't hurt anyone.

If by "crazy" you mean mentally ill, that's a little different. But how many barefoot mentally ill/disturbed people have you seen? Again, not very many I'm sure, as most of them wear shoes. I've heard stories of other barefooters being stopped by police because they went barefoot in public, not because it was illegal but the police just wanted to make sure they were "sane" and doing ok. Cool! :)

Lastly, who cares what others think anyway! It's just their opinion. There are gazillions of opinions in this world and if we let all of them dictate the way we live our lives we won't even last a day.

Even Sesame Street encourages you to set your piggies free which is great!

Legal concerns

Is it against the law to go barefoot in public? Absolutely not! At least not anywhere in the US. Those that say otherwise, are either totally ignorant or are lying to you to cover their own prejudices against bare feet. There is not even a health code that says you can't enter establishments barefoot. I'm sure you have seen signs posted at the door of stores saying you can't go in barefoot "By Order of The Health Department." That's a complete lie! You can check out the following link to verify that going barefoot is legal in the US.

I understand that establishments have the right to set their own rules as to how their customers should dress, like certain fancy restaurants require men to wear suit and tie but they don't say it's by order of the government! Therefore, they should not create "phantom laws" concerning bare feet! *They* should actually be prosecuted for using the government's name to lie!

But it's not all bad for there are barefoot-friendly stores that, believe it or not, have No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problem signs. In this particular story, the sign was seen on Kauai, Hawaii, but I have also seen something similar in Galveston, Texas. Too bad I didn't have a camera with me at the time. I wish there were more of them to counter the negative ones.

Driving barefoot is also perfectly legal anywhere in the US. There are no laws against driving barefoot. Again, you can visit the link for reference.

Phew! Isn't it a relief to know that going barefoot is not against the law? So whatcha gonna do? I would start going barefoot everywhere!

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