"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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Friday
Mar092012

Alliance Opposes Ohio Statehouse Shoe Rule

The Primalfoot Alliance, an organization that advocates worldwide for the barefoot lifestyle, stands in opposition of a rule requiring that visitors to the Ohio Statehouse wear "shoes or comparable footwear." The rule was approved 8-2 by a committee and will now go before the entire state legislature.

In December, we sent letters to each member of the Joint Commission for Agency Rule Review (JCARR) speaking on behalf of all barefooters in Ohio and beyond. We expressed our concern that requiring shoes of visitors takes away an individual's right to make health decisions about their own body and forces a biomechanical restriction on feet. Apparently those concerns fell on deaf ears.

The leadership of The Primalfoot Alliance will now be considering what actions this organization can take to have this rule repealed. Options include petitioning all supporters of barefoot living to send emails and letters to the legislature as a whole or petitioning the ACLU for assistance in defending barefooters' natural rights.

Many legal precedents beyond this single action have already been set against the barefoot movement. Now it is time for a sea change to begin that stops additional damage to the movement and reclaims rights for anyone who chooses to live without shoes. If we cannot do that, bare feet and our natural rights will continue to be blocked in irreperable ways.

More:

Columbus Dispatch: "Bare feet officially going bye-bye at Statehouse" 
Ahcuah: "Statehouse Shootdown" 

Corrected: Struck statement saying that the rule goes before the entire state legislature. Because it was not rejected it will automatically go into effect once filed.

Tuesday
Nov012011

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!

Tuesday
Aug162011

An Open Letter To Fern Markgraf and the Schools of America

by L. Daniel Howell, PhD, Vice President of The Primalfoot Alliance

By all accounts, Hawaii is one of the most barefoot-friendly places in the United States. Bare feet are generally welcome in the shops, markets and eateries on this beach paradise.* Accordingly, public schools on the islands have also been traditionally accepting of barefooted children.

Until now.

Back in December of 2010 a news article emerged from Maui in which public school principal Fern Markgraf declared, “the olden days (in Hawaii) when kids all had bare feet are no longer acceptable.”  This declaration, however, begs the question: Why? What threats to bare feet exist today that did not exist in the “olden days”? Why are bare feet in Hawaiian schools – once the norm – no longer “acceptable”? Is it possible that Fern Markgraf and the rest of Hawaii is just falling prey to Western ‘civilities’?

On June 1, 2011, I mailed a letter to Mrs. Markgraf encouraging her to reconsider this position. I now make the letter available to the public as an open letter – a plea to all schools throughout America that prohibit (or even discourage) students from going barefoot on their campuses. As a professor of human anatomy, Vice President of the Primalfoot Alliance and author of The Barefoot Book, I am thoroughly convinced that requiring footwear on children damages their feet for life. If you are a school administrator, I – on behalf of the Primalfoot Alliance – urge you to reconsider bare feet in the classroom. Please contact us; we would love to talk with you further about this important health issue affecting our school children.

***

RE: Footwear on schoolchildren

Dear Fern Markgraf,

Thank you for your dedication to improving the lives of children through education. As an educator myself, I know it’s a tiring and often thankless profession (yet also rewarding).

I am writing because you recently cited footwear as a dire need and priority for your schoolchildren. You stated in a Maui News report that the “olden days (in Hawaii) when kids all had bare feet are no longer acceptable.” I certainly believe you are doing what you feel is best for the children in your care, but I think you are making a mistake that in the long run will harm the feet and health of the children in Hawaii.

There is a growing body of scientific evidence that prolonged shoe use damages our feet, ankles, knees, hips and spine. The use of footwear by young children is particularly problematic since a child’s foot is still developing; the shoeing of children sets them up for foot problems that last a lifetime. It is widely believed that footwear is needed “for safety reasons,” but after performing a thorough search for barefoot-related injuries I and others have found scant evidence to support this assertion. Indeed, the evidence indicates we should all go barefoot more for healthy feet and bodies.

I sincerely urge you to reconsider your requirement for footwear on your pupils. Schoolchildren have long gone barefoot in Hawaii without serious injuries. Indeed, the history of going shoeless in Hawaii is cause for celebration. As states on the mainland are realizing the harm caused by shoes and the benefits of going shoeless, Hawaii has a unique opportunity to lead the nation in promoting foot health through going barefoot. Schoolchildren in Hawaii have already demonstrated that going barefoot is safe and healthy for children. Perhaps a more sensible approach is simply to let children and parents decide for themselves whether shoes are necessary for them.

I am available if you would like further consultation. I love sharing the discovery that feet are healthiest and happiest when bare!

Sincerely,

Dr. Daniel Howell
Vice President, The Primalfoot Alliance
Author, The Barefoot Book

(Please note: The original letter was co-signed by Michael Buttgen, founder & President of the Primalfoot Alliance and Michael Warburton, research scientist.)

***

Related articles by Howell:
An Issue of Safety. Really?
Shoes: A Public Health Hazard

Related resources from The Primalfoot Alliance:
Our Position on TOMS' 'One Day Without Shoes'

National-TV Stories Provide Positive Looks at Barefoot Living

Frequently Asked Questions


* Jennifer Aniston has even made waves this week walking barefoot around the islands and according to an internet poll the vast majority of people think it’s "cool."

Image: Arvind Balaraman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net