Putting to bed the anti-barefoot hysteria

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“Humans are not Hobbits” — This I agree with, but I disagree with the reflection that was printed on Nov. 16 claiming barefootedness as objectively unacceptable. It is my intention to prove that the author has a right to question what she sees, but her arguments fail to take account of the situation’s reality.

Firstly, the author unreliably presents “science-supported reasons” with an argument that starts with an emotionally driven claim that being barefooted is “plain disgusting.” I find no objective evidence for this. The author tries to support her claim with hookworms being problematic. However, she fails to recognise that there have only been eight reported cases in Texas since 2018; and I am sure we can agree that people are not defecating on UD soil, which is how the parasites are introduced.

Additionally, the argument relies heavily on hyperbole. The Mall is described as “a safety hazard .. [of] random sharp-sided stones.” Yet, walking the Mall reveals only a few scattered nuts, leaves, and the occasional hamburger crumb. The writer has drastically skewed the condition of the Mall, which she has walked and experienced many times, yet comments on barefootedness — a situation she appears not to actively interact with. 

The anti-barefoot parade then makes the assumption that we, barefooted people, have poor hygiene such as walking in dirt with open wounds on our feet. Just because we’re fine with dirt on the outside of our skin does not mean we wish it inside. I wash my feet every day. This includes soap and attentive scrubbing specifically for my soles, toes, and nails. Since leaving shoes behind I have actually become more hygiene-conscious. I wonder if the author cleans her feet with the dedication she has to criticizing the feet of others.

The disproportionate “problems” that the writer brings up continues with falling objects and things scattered on the ground like LEGO. I know many dedicated gym goers who will perform heavy lifts such as the squat or deadlift barefoot. Why? These intense actions require both firmly planted feet and reliable ground-foot communication. These are vital for stable and steady muscle and joint movements. 

When the body is stressed, it strengthens the stressed area; humans did not evolve with shoes, so our legs are built to work without such. The author claims that barefootedness causes the muscles of the feet and ankles to become “unevenly aligned.” However, certain types of shoes such as the high-heel have been studied and shown to cause the calf to shrink with long-time use. Alternatively, arch-supports can make the user dependent on them because the body stops strengthening the arch due to the opportunity to be lazy. While shoes are helpful for extreme circumstances like construction yards, evolution has produced structures fit for most occasions.

The author then pulls from first-hand experience to point out the grave peril of spilt milk at the Cap Bar. However, since we barefooters have triumphed over the dropped LEGO, we are unafraid to walk into the land of milk and honey.

The argument that best supports pro-shoes is shoelessness in the bathroom being unhygienic. Yet people touch many things with their hands, including toilet paper, toilets, and their phones — sometimes during and right after using the restroom. People only use their feet to walk — never touching others with said appendages, but touching much with their hands. 

Would Frodo Baggins disapprove of barefootedness? What is the difference between Man and Hobbit? Resistance to mind magic? Sure. A bit of height? Agreeable. The amount of time to evolve the body for effective locomotion? Most definitely. Humans have been walking barefooted much longer than Hobbits have, and the UD campus is a much more gentle environment than Frodo’s. Thus, I reckon that he would love the opportunity to walk where we are blessed to.

When addressing the barefoot situation, arguments should be approached using logical reasoning which “The UD barefoot phenomena” aims at but misses. If UD’s reputation of being academically circumspect is to remain true, we must reject and renounce this anti-barefoot hysteria.

4 COMMENTS

  1. It has been my experience that approximately 20% of Americans hate bare feet, and see nothing wrong with publicly judgmentally body shaming barefoot people.
    I can’t blame The University News for publishing the original article, after all, they don’t exactly have a huge editorial staff to fully research and fact check the author’s claims.
    Look at the garbage that even Inc. Magazine allowed past it’s editors in an article written by a hater of bare feet.

    https://www.inc.com/chris-nashawaty/bare-feet-mark-zuckerberg-mark-cuban-richard-branson-chris-hotchkiss-elon-musk-adam-neumann.html

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