👣 Barefoot FAQsLast updated on January 30, 2021
I've been going barefoot for many years now, since my ~sophomore year of high school. I don't think I've ever met anyone who's gone barefoot as much as I have, so as you might imagine I get a lot of questions about it. Writing this post is, as usual, mostly for my own benefit. However, I'll try to make it interesting to anyone who'd like to read some stories about my experiences!
Why do you go barefoot?
In short, I find it more comfortable.
- It feels nice to "feel the ground" with my feet. There are so many interesting sensations! Texture, temperature, etc.
- Shoes are uncomfortable for me. I only want to wear them when I need to keep my feet warm, like gloves.
- Going barefoot is increasingly a part of my identity. I feel more myself when I'm barefoot, and I love meeting other people who enjoy to go barefoot.
Sometimes people will ask me if I go barefoot to be "grounded" or for a heightened sense of spirituality. I honestly don't know much about grounding, and it's not something I ever think about. As an atheist, I don't find much religious or spiritual meaning in going barefoot, but it's cool that other people do!
People have asserted that I go barefoot to attract more attention. I love meeting and talking to people, and freely admit to expressing myself in ways that spur conversations! I honestly forget that It's Weird To Go Barefoot. Along with the way I dress, do my hair..., the way I express myself is genuine. It's ok if you don't think my self-expression is attractive or sexy or tasteful, but I do!
When do you go barefoot?
In the warm season, which for me in Williamsburg, Virginia is ~March-October. I plan to move somewhere warmer after I graduate from college, so that I can go barefoot all year and generally avoid cold weather.
Where do you go barefoot?
Wherever I'm allowed to, which is most everywhere. There are no laws (to my knowledge) that disallow it, so I'm only banned from places that intentionally ban me. I've written some stories below about time I've gotten asked to leave different places.
Have you ever been kicked out of somewhere?
Yes, plenty of times.
During the 2018 March for Our Lives protest, a large group of students from my secondary school marched from our school to the Capitol Building. Once things had wrapped up, I really had to pee. We were close to the National Museum of the American Indian, and knowing that they have a public bathroom I popped in for a minute. The security stopped me, and asked if I had shoes. When I said that I did not and just needed to use the bathroom, their supervisor said that I may not enter the museum without shoes on. I'd peed myself a little by the time I got to the Botanic Garden bathroom!
When I was a student at James Madison University I was frequently asked to leave the dining halls, but I don't recall any issues going barefoot to class, except for a bio lab professor who required closed-toe shoes in class. The following year I transferred to William & Mary, and started having similar problems with dining hall employees asking me to leave. I filed a complaint with the Office of Compliance & Equity, who forwarded my case to a Human Resources Manager for William & Mary Dining Services. He kindly investigated the issue for me, and concluded that there are no laws, "Food Safety issues," or campus policies that require shoes. Since then I've been asked to leave dining halls a number of times, but I've either had my phone handy to show them that email, or they've been intercepted by a manager.
When an employee at a store or restaurant asks me to leave, I try not to make too much of a fuss. Maybe it could be seen as discrimination, but I want to respect the wishes of business owners. It is their property after all! It doesn't happen very often though, and for every time it does, there's another time where an employee apologizes to me about a spill on aisle X or something like that. Once the owner of a Kebab restaurant came out from the back and profusely apologized to me because she hadn't cleaned the floor that day! Writing that story years later brings a smile to my face 😁
Have you ever hurt your feet?
Never very badly. My feet are pretty tough at this point, and I watch the ground as I walk! I can remember two minor cuts I've gotten on my feet that stopped bleeding very quickly. I can say with certainty that I've cut my hands way more times! I'm very confident at this point that I know the risk I'm taking: I've stepped on a lot of things and understand how they can feel or hurt me. Even if I do injure my feet severely, I doubt I'll stop going barefoot as long as I'm still able.