Barefoot bliss is a state of being experienced only by some of our kind. As we all know, us humans walked the earth barefoot for millennia and were content to do so, before the invention of shoes. Nowadays, shoes play an absolutely pivotal role in several areas of society. Not only is footwear there to provide the feet with a barrier of safety from the nastiness of city pavement, it also enforces stereotypes of class, providing yet another system of segregating those who are essentially born equal.
Removing shoes from a scenario altogether conveys one of two messages: either your shoe-clothing is embarrassingly out of shape for the environment you’re entering, or you are rediscovering a lost connection with Mother Earth. The latter, when being observed by a shoed onlooker, would be accompanied by an assessment of clothing, hair and jewelry as to judge whether the “hippy” archetype fits the build. Generally this image is accepted.
Age is also a strong determinant of characterising a shoe-less person. The younger the culprit is, the more accepting we seem to be. Many parents encourage children to go without shoes: perhaps attempting to keep aflame that primitive desire we have as humans not to shod our feet in man-made materials like plastic and rubber. Children are closer to what we innately are; the biases and rules of culture are yet to infiltrate untainted minds – so this might feasibly explain such behaviour.
If one is exposed to a grown person, in public, wearing daily attire but without shoes, a silent and scathing critique would at first ensue, followed by a realisation that this person might actually be in grave danger – perhaps he or she removed their shoes to flee. No offer of help would follow this inaudible verdict, however, despite the self-made justification. Why else would a person be barefoot in public?
What a strange and interesting thing we have created by designing and producing covering for our feet.