What do “they” think of “us”?

Barefoot Life

I always find it interesting to ponder about what non-barefooters think of us barefooter when they interact with us in public. A prevalent subject during these interactions is the warnings about the (apparently imminent) dangers I will encounter while not having any foot protection in the outdoors. After giving it a thought, I’ve come to the realization that the great majority of shoe-wearing people, in their over-dependence on footwear, think we don’t weigh the consequences before we make our decision to step anywhere in bare feet.

The other day, for instance, I decided to tag along to the dog park with my boss and his dog over lunch hour. Being a park, I naturally went barefoot. I got warned by 3 different people – including my boss, who sees me barefoot every day – about how I was taking a big risk by not having any footwear at the dog park due to all the dog waste I could find there. Needless to say, I already had taken that into consideration before deciding to be barefoot at the park and I was perfectly happy taking my chances, in exchange for my own personal comfort and the experience of having my bare feet on the natural surfaces. Sure enough, I spent about an hour there; both sitting and walking around, and I did not encounter anything harmful to my feet. All that dog waste was either invisible or non-existent.

What I find particularly interesting (and annoying) is not only the fact that people feel compelled to stick their nose in my affairs but also the motherly tone of voice everyone uses when warning me about stuff like that; as if trying to make me aware of these things for the very first time in my life and expecting me to get scared to the point of running back to the car and getting at least a pair of rubber flip-flops to put on. Of course, I try to be diplomatic in most cases and deflect the warnings with a simple “oh, I know… I’ll be OK, though, thanks!”

I wonder if this is something other barefooters have also observed or is it just me, being too self-conscious or on the defensive? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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