Anti-Barefoot bigotry What a horrid idea.

As a child who chose to go without shoes and would go to extreme lengths to ensure that it stayed that way! And with friends from all over the world who treasure the freedom, cultural associations and joy that going barefeet gives our children, and ourselves as adults, and fear the prejudices of those who have never had that freedom and who consider us bad parents or mad in some way for that choice.

Hope this doesn’t come across as too strident – but this is something I feel very strongly about.  

Bare feet are not a terrible thing – they are wonderful! You feel powerful, grounded, walk and run differently – with lighter steps. No sore feet, blisters, bunions, or misshapen feet. Cuts and scratches aren’t usually  a problem. You can feel the earth beneath you.

Shoes have their place – in cold climates or where there are health issues with parasites, but they are not essential for life in other climates.

Ask many a New Zealander, Australian, or white South African. Shoes are a cultural issue not necessarily an indicator of poverty. For those of us who have experienced the move from a western world to a sunnier clime – shoes are often one of the first things to go – not because we can’t afford shoes, but because they are constricting, a by-product of a different climate, an irrelevant imposition. The barefoot – poverty association is a dangerous thing. Many people choose bare feet for the joy of it.

Wanting to end poverty is a wonderful sentiment – but it is patronising and frankly damaging to dictate the terms to those who we feel need help, to dictate their aspirations in our image.

People need to be empowered to make their own decisions for their family, free to take the western influences they want, but retain their own values and culture. Not be constantly told that unless you wear shoes, drive the right kind of car, wear a suit and tie, eat western approved foods although your traditional ones are ideal for the climate and more nutritious, use formula, use a pushchair, go to school 9 to 5 every day then we don’t consider you suitable peers. The issue is that people are able to provide for themselves and their families – not that they remake themselves in the western image.