On Footwear

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What genius decided that footwear was necessary?

I’m sure that originally shoes were designed for the sole (ha) purpose of protecting our feet from the elements: gravel, rock roads, hot sand, wild animals, etc. Take a look at Greek, art, and you’ll find this is so—they all wear simple sandals that provide an extra layer of protection on the bottoms of their feet.

But is that even necessary? Our skin is designed to create its own protection through callouses. Shure, they don’t look very pretty, but they serve their purpose. Walk barefoot long enough, and you’ll acquire soles as hard as hobbits’ feet. So why shoes?

Especially since they’ve clearly evolved far afield of their original purpose. Walk into a shoe store, and you’ll see what I mean. High heels are self-explanatory. They contort your foot into a position it was never designed to hold. Walking on tiptoe is great for ballerinas, but they went through years of training to teach their muscles how to walk on tiptoe properly. The rest of us just find our spines jarred out of place. High heels: providing Christmas bonuses to chiropractors since 1600.

Even flat shoes are a problem. They chafe. Even well-designed shoes chafe. Maybe this is only a problem in the women’s shoe department, where everything is designed for aesthetics and not comfort and practicality. I’ll admit the fault is with us—we like pretty shoes. Buying shoes is a vicious cycle: see great shoes, buy them, they hurt your feet (at least until they’re broken in), they wear out in a year, you buy more. Guys can wear a pair of shoes for years, since as a general rule they’re built more sturdily.

The thing is, no matter what you do, whether you wear socks or preventative Band-Aids or some other way of protecting your feet or not, if you are wearing new shoes, blisters will happen.

All summer long, I’ve been in sandals. The Greeks had something figured out with those things. They’re comfortable, and during the summer I really don’t have the need to keep my feet warm or to look professional. They keep the sidewalk from burning my feet.

Fall comes, and the chill starts to chill my toes. I put on a pair of flats, wear them for a day, and, predictably, my poor feet are covered in blisters. In the fall, UU girls (at least those with new shoes) walk around campus with Band-Aids until it gets cold enough to wear tights. And even then, the blisters will come.

Why do we do this to ourselves?

I look forward to the day when I can establish my own little dress code where shoes will not be required. I will walk out where the wild things are, let my wide, unshoeable feet get torn by the elements and come out thick with callouses. With this armor, I will pad through the rest of my days as the happiest of hobbits.

Let’s start a trend, guys. 

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