Myths and excuses against barefooting
There is a small but recurring set of "reasons" used by those objecting
to bare feet, all of which are specious and contain little or
They are often appeals to a conceptual authority that doesn't
exist, and are based on nothing other than timeworn prejudice and
deliberate misinformation that began over a half a century ago.
Here is why none of them are valid excuses to discriminate.
Far too many people are ignorant of these facts and thoroughly brainwashed
by the misinformation they grew up with, but as detailed here it only
takes a few minutes on the internet to find the right answers.
A few happy piggies running around has absolutely no impact on the operations
of any business establishment, venue, attraction, or infrastructure.
Furthermore, there really are individuals with a medical need to avoid
wearing shoes, and for ADA compliance must legally be accomodated without
Public awareness of all of this is increasing, and while unshod visitors,
customers, or even workers may still not be the most common day-to-day sight,
the sooner it becomes normalized and accepted in our lives the better.
There are NO health laws/regulations in any state in the US, or in
most counties and municipalities, against bare feet -- including in food
or other business establishments, and any public places.
That's amply detailed at all of the barefoot advocacy sites, notably
which hosts official supporting letters from state health and
Bare soles do not spread germs on floors any more than shoes do.
Feet left open to the air are in fact much healthier than when kept
confined in stagnant fungus-farms all day, which is why those of
a barefooter never stink and are in much better shape.
Safety: little or no bearing.
People accustomed to living barefoot enjoy more agility, balance,
situational awareness, and general comfort, even while walking and
working in harsh environments and around heavy items.
Experienced barefooters are more mobile and capable without shoes
than with them, and inherently resistant to hazards underfoot.
The perceived safety risks are generally overblown, especially by
those unfamiliar with the physical reality on the ground.
Many types of generally "acceptable" footwear make their wearers far
less safe than they would otherwise be, such as flip-flops or
Footwear may be useful on occasion in very cold weather or on genuinely
injurious surfaces, but only as a tool for a specific use -- like oven
mitts, to prevent actual damage.
It is hard for the routinely shod to understand just how tough and
resilient the human foot can become, and how the biomechanics of our gait
and stride instantly adapt to surface characteristics as needed.
Some of us spend time enjoying hikes outdoors, up mountains and over sharp
rocks and gravel and plenty of broken glass, without mishap and
happily "growing our own shoes" in the process.
Our feet *want* to be this way, and they will develop naturally
to a very robust condition when simply allowed to.
Because of the way premises liability and duty-of-care law works, an
establishment has NO responsibility for anyone's feet.
This is one of the most common stated fears of
venue management, and it's totally groundless.
There is not one general-liability business insurance policy on
the planet that calls out footwear concerns for its patrons.
"OMG you'll step on something and then sue us" is a complete lie, and
an implicit accusation of deliberate entrapment attempts on the part
of the patron.
No sane lawyer would try to prosecute a foot-injury claim by someone
who freely entered a premises without shoes -- the notion is ridiculous,
and the most likely response would amount to "you walked into the place
barefoot? Have a nice day."
Looking out for one's own well-being in such circumstances is always
100% on the individual, regardless of circumstances.
Food: no relevance, and there never has been.
The notion that footwear has any relationship to food retail or handling
is one of the most insidious fake-news myths from the sixties, but a
deeply entrenched one that often includes bogus "health code" claims.
The community is working to dispel this, and a growing list of high-profile
corporations have no "shoe rule" anymore because they've
realized that having one is nonsensical and simply bad for business.
Food establishments have far more to fear from the hands and mouths of
their patrons, not their feet.
Unfortunately, many workers in food and related industry have not been
made aware of these facts and still run on their own misguided prejudices,
so we still see the discriminatory "No shirt / no shoes / no service"
signs here and there.
Decorum/social: none of anyone else's business, just
like for any other outwardly visible lifestyle choice.
We don't go around belittling people for their weight or hat logos or
unusual hair colors, because we supposedly live in a polite society
where we simply tolerate each others' quirks and appearance.
"Decorum" is about how we behave, not how we dress, and it's generally
agreed that arbitrary harassment is what's unacceptable.
Enlightened corporations and venues are encouraged to support
this position to anyone who raises a question, and handle third-party
complaints with solid reassurance that there's nothing wrong.
In a professional context, any employee or representative of an
establishment that chooses to bully someone over such a petty, harmless
non-issue should do so at the risk of their own career.
No organization's management should ever support such behavior on the part of
an associate, and incidents or confrontations need to be promptly reported
in the strongest possible terms for remedial action and training.
It's the only way they'll ever learn.
[A half-sheet printable graphic short form of this can be
downloaded here --
geared specifically for Massachusetts, but an image of any other
state letter from barefooters.org could be resized and substituted in.
Print double-sided landscape and cut apart into convenient flyers.]