"I'd go barefoot all the time if I could."

We hear that sentiment ALL the time! Really. You CAN go barefoot much more often -- even in public! This site has tons of resources to help society become more "barefoot friendly," but you must begin with your own two feet.

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Entries in footwear (4)


Airline Refuses Flight to Shoeless Toddler, Family

source: news.com.au

An woman and her two young sons recently were kept off a Virgin Australia flight after the younger child had lost his shoes and was going to board in stockinged feet, according to an article by the Website Terminal U. After the carrier apparently cited a non-existent policy of Australia's safety regulator, Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), Karen Darley and her four-year and two-year old children were refused boarding on the flight and finally took another one when replacement shoes for the toddler were found.

Further complicating the matter is the fact that the family missed an alternate flight (for which she was not billed additionally by Virgin Australia), and therefore had to pay more than $800 for new tickets. Darley is seeking compensation for the second flight and a portion of the cost of the first flight.

Terminal U shared a quote from a CASA spokesperson: "CASA recommends that all passengers wear shoes on board. There is no regulation for wearing shoes, but airlines can set their own policies." Our emphasis was added. According to a news.com.au article, which Terminal U sourced, the airline does have a policy requiring shoes of "anyone who can walk."

As is often the case with discrimination against primalfoot people, there seems to be confusion as to why Virgin Australia actually kicked Darley and her sons off the plane. Both articles linked above claim that a safety regulation was wrongly cited. The airline does have a policy addressing this issue, but it's not clear if that was brought up by the airline only after the fact.

UPDATE, Nov. 2, 2011: Barefooter Bob Neinast informed us that Virgin Australia's posted Conditions of Carriage actually do not have a requirement that passengers use footwear. That said, the document does state that the airline "may take all steps it believes necessary to ensure the safety and security of its Guests," an excuse often used against barefooters when no specific policy exists.

Whatever the case, there is no regulation requiring that any Australian airline require shoes of their passengers. Furthermore, we believe that it's unnecessary for any airline to prohibit primalfoot passengers for reasons of safety. Under all normal circumstances, commercial airplane cabins are free of anything that can harm the feet. If emergency situations are a concern, hard hats and protective gloves are not required of or issued to passengers.

We hope that as the numerous benefits of primalfoot living come more into the public view, airlines and regulators will eliminate any policies requiring shoes of passengers.

Thanks to our advisory board member Moe Morales for passing this along!


Our Position on TOMS' 'One Day Without Shoes'

On Tuesday, April 5, countless people around the world will go barefoot to participate in shoe-giver TOMS Shoes' "One Day Without Shoes" (ODWS). The event is meant to bring awareness to the plight of people throughout the world who are negatively affected because they must live barefoot. TOMS donates a pair of shoes to children in need with every pair the company sells. While The Primalfoot Alliance is in favor of charitable efforts meant to improve the quality of life of the world's poor, we have some serious reservations about the messages and end results behind ODWS.

Because The Primalfoot Alliance "advocates for people to go barefoot and find prudent ways to let feet be feet first" -- our mission -- we tend to take a skeptical, but objective, glance at any activities that intend to put shoes onto the feet of people who regularly go barefoot. Our supporters have found great benefit from going without footwear, so it's important that any efforts to shoe the feet of people who have never worn them be scrutinized.

We have two concerns with TOMS' ODWS, and are sharing them here with potential remedies for each:

First, even if shoe donations are made in a spirit of charity, those shoes may end up doing more harm than good. Feet that have never worn shoes have different biomechanical structures than those that have. The feet are wider, more triangular shaped and have noticeable separation between the toes. Feet that have worn shoes have an altered shape, often taking on the shape of the shoes. The problem with putting shoes on the feet of those who've never worn them is that those shoes quickly begin to alter the shape of the feet and, therefore, their function. A 1905 study discovered that children who've never worn shoes begin to have altered bone alignment in their feet after only a few weeks of shoe use.1 What's more, shoes provide an enclosed environment that act as incubators for the growth of bacteria that cause athlete's foot and toe fungus.2 They also can contribute to corns and blistering with long-term use of the same pair of shoes.3 On a related note, we wonder if access to proper medical care is available in these same impoverished areas in case the gifted shoes cause foot problems like footwear so often does in developed areas of the world.

If TOMS or any other organization wants to provide some kind of protective footwear to the world's poor who have always gone barefoot, we recommend primal footwear that is capable of sustaining the foot's natural shape and function while providing the needed protection. There are various brands of this footwear available, but even huarache sandal kits could make a huge difference. They would provide an adequate barrier from rocks and unsafe soils, but leave the foot open to the air and keep its natural shape intact.

Second, campaigns to put shoes on the feet of those who do not have shoes often inappropriately demonize barefoot living. While there are conditions and locations in which it is advisable wear shoes, we humans can generally lead reasonable lives while barefoot. Those of us who live in developed countries -- and who often wear shoes -- can especially safely live barefoot most of the time. Our society's smooth, paved surfaces, well-groomed grassy areas, carpeted floors and other harmless ground coverings lend themselves well to bare feet. Those of us who go barefoot on a regular basis can tell you that living without shoes helps our feet to become more conditioned for such activity. Our soles are thicker, feet are better at temperature self regulation, the skin on our feet is healthier and the sensations from our feet are more pleasurable because of a barefoot lifestyle. What's more, our feet become more flexible and strong the more we go barefoot. Those who are served by organizations like TOMS have feet that are conditioned for the rougher, undeveloped environments in which they live. Quite frankly, they function well for most of their daily activities while barefoot because that's the only way they've lived. If poor people of the undeveloped world can live most of their lives barefoot under conditions much harsher than we have in developed countries, we can certainly successfully live more barefoot for greater health benefits. Campaigns that cast barefoot activity in a negative light come across as ill-conceived and misguided.

TOMS and other similar organizations could emphasize that having footwear available when needed is important. Though footwear may not always be necessary, the poor should have the option to wear protection from dangerous ground coverings. Adjusting TOMS' charitable footwear messages from stressing shoes as a necessity to an option could work wonders for striking a good balance between the benefits of barefoot activity and the prudence of having footwear available if necessary.

In summary, we're not opposed to charity. Looking at the bigger picture, however, we argue that providing potentially harmful shoes to the poor in the name of charity is short sighted. Furthermore, insinuating that shoes are necessary for a quality life spreads ignorance, something that The Primalfoot Alliance is attempting to eliminate.

1. Hoffman et al. (1905). Conclusions drawn from a comparative study of the feet of barefooted and shoe-wearing peoples. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 105-136. (Link)
2. Howell (2010). The barefoot book. 13-15.
3. Blisters, Callouses and Corns; KidsHealth.org (Link)

Image: africa / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Your Primalfoot New Year's Resolutions for 2011?

As our founding year winds to a close, we are working on lots of great new stuff to announce in 2011! We hope to spread our message even farther and expand our abilities to advocate for barefoot activity.

Until then, we want to know if you've set any primalfoot resolutions for yourself. Have you decided to make 2011 the year you "go barefoot?" Will you commit to wear only primal footwear or less on your feet by the end of the year? Let us know in the comments here.

What does 2011 hold for letting your feet be feet first?

Happy New Year from The Primalfoot Alliance!

Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net