Letter writer: Going barefoot is personal choice, harms no one

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Mr. [Michael] Sheasly makes some good points (“Dogs’ Rights Supersede Barefoot Humans,” June 8) [Xpress]. As a full-time 24/7 barefooter myself for the last 14 years, I’ve done extensive research into any and all legal, medical and health aspects of going barefoot, and in spite of the fact that this lifestyle choice is completely legal, healthy and natural for human beings to do — causing absolutely no harm to anyone — a number of people still stubbornly hold on to old, negative myths not based on fact.

As Mr. Sheasly pointed out, North Carolina health codes do not ban bare feet by customers in any business establishment — including restaurants — or other public place. Nor does Buncombe or any other county, in fact, nor does ANY health department in any of the 50 states. What health departments require is that facilities meet certain minimum food- and food-handling safety and sanitary requirements. They have no control over or concern whatsoever with what a customer of a business is or isn’t wearing on his or her feet. I have letters from many local and state health departments that confirm that fact.

Mr. Sheasly states his reasons for living barefoot are related to his disability and religion, which, as he also states, is all the more reason that he should not be discriminated against for his lack of footwear. However, one should not need a “reason” or other justification for making such a choice. Choosing to be a barefooter can be simply a matter of personal choice under our freedom of expression rights.

Indeed, being barefoot should be a nonissue. The choice to wear shoes or not wear shoes should have no more impact on anyone else or any business than the choice to wear a hat or not wear a hat. What difference does it make, really, to anyone else other than the person who chooses to do it? Being barefoot in public harms absolutely no one and should be of no one else’s concern. It’s just another personal choice of attire or appearance, no different from choosing to wear a green shirt versus a red shirt, shorts instead of long pants, hair dyed blue or left natural, piercings in our faces or no piercings.

— Kriss Sands
Mars Hill

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30 thoughts on “Letter writer: Going barefoot is personal choice, harms no one

  1. Kriss

    I’m sorry you feel that way, Shelly. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion, but I’m not sure why you have to shout (post in all caps), which is usually considered very rude – and especially when you include calling people names. If you’re trying to get some kind of point across, that’s not a very good or effective way to do it . I totally disagree with you about Madison County. I have found the people here to be very friendly and accepting of others, regardless of how they may choose to dress. I guess you are the exception.

  2. I wholeheartedly concur with Kriss; barefoot isn’t an issue to anyone other than the person choosing do do so. I was going to write a rebuttal to Shelly’s unhinged screed and ad hominem attack, but I think her caps lock choice speaks for itself. I’m truly sorry that the moral fiber and upright character of Madison County will deteriorate in an instant should I choose to stroll their sidewalks sans shoes. One wonders just how tenuous that pious conservative structure must be if one (or two) bare feet can make it all tumble down.

    • Kriss

      As far as “pious conservative structure” is concerned, that’s another thing that’s really laughable in Shelly’s comment, the “VERY CONVERSATIVE AND RED” characterization. She’s apparently not aware of the political makeup of most of the current elected officials in the county (not conservative). And she’s obviously not aware of the fact that in the March primary, Bernie Sanders got more votes in this county than the combined total of every Republican running. And Hillary Clinton got more votes than any one of the Republican candidates running. No, Madison County is no way “conservative and red.” But even if it were, what does that have to do with someone choosing to go barefoot?

      • Kriss

        On the other hand, she may be right about Madison County being “conversative.” (I just noticed her misspelling.) Yes, people here are happy to have a conversation with anyone. Again, as I said, very friendly folks.

  3. Lee G

    Going barefoot is a perfectly natural choice. It seems that some people forget that we all started barefoot, playing on the carpet, grass or sand with no shoes!

    Shoes can be a fashion statement, a useful tool or a social norm. Aren’t we open minded enough to accept those who don’t follow the norm –for whatever reason they choose? Personally, wearing shoes (or even sandals) makes my back & legs hurt and my feet feel uncomfortable. Thus, I typically choose barefoot, even roaming the streets of downtown Chicago.

    • boatrocker

      I feel the same way about wearing underwear or pants. I have been a bare from the waist downer for years. I wear a clean hat, shirt and shoes but no one will serve me in restaurants. Why doesn’t everyone agree with me? My doctor says it is ok as I have a medical affliction known as commandmoitis.

      Everyone treats me like an outsider. It is a choice, after all and I’m tired of suffering for my beliefs like Gandhi, Martin Luther King. WWII Jews and people who believe in the metric system.

  4. boatrocker

    While I respect your views, might I suggest you learn to write in your native tongue, Standard American English so you do not become a target for Southern stereotypes who print in all capital letters?

    Also, feel free to use complete sentences. That is how one posts online to affect positive change. Checking for spelling works too.

    • Kriss

      Good suggestions, Boatrocker. I’m actually happy that Shelly did post her comment here. It shows everyone a perfect example of the intellectual and educational level of many of the closed-minded folks we sometimes run into. I’m also happy to say that people like that are few and far between.

  5. Nikola

    If you think bare feet that get washed multiple times a day are dirty, wait until you see shoes that get washed … uh, well … you know how often you wash them thoroughly. You should be disgusted to have people with all the dirt on their shoes around the place where you eat, not to mention all the bacteria and funghi they are growing inside their shoes. Oh, but I suppose dirt and germs you don’t know are there are all right… or are they?

  6. Bob

    Kriss is correct – Going barefoot harms no one, and in fact is very healthy to any individual who chooses to do so. I have been a full-time barefooter for 35+ years (I just turned 55), and it has given me renewed health and mobility from joint problems. Some folks are mis-informed about “perils” of bare feet, but in reality, no one even blinks about people with bare hands!

  7. bsummers

    Sign seen at the MASH/CALM tent on the edge of Main Meadow, at the 1992 Rainbow Gathering in Colorado:

    Maybe Wear Shoes

    Mind you, if there is a Ground Zero in the alternative lifestyle in America, it’s Main Meadow at a Rainbow Gathering. And even there: frostbite, staph infections, broken toes, need to be taken seriously. Just sayin’ – fully support the right to encourage people to go barefoot, so long as you educate them how to do it safely.

    • Kriss

      I don’t think anyone is trying to “encourage people to go barefoot.” I’m not anyway. It’s not for the faint-hearted. We’re just saying for those of us who may choose to do so, leave us alone. We’re not doing anything wrong or illegal or that has any direct effect on anyone else’s life. Nor are we any kind of potential liability to any business, and anyone who believes we are just doesn’t understand how legal liability works in the real world or the actual history of personal injury lawsuits due to footwear or lack thereof.
      We’re just doing something that’s unusual. That’s all it is.

      • bsummers

        We’re just doing something that’s unusual.

        Didn’t used to be. We all came into this world naked, & that’s how we leave. Sorry if I came off as critical – I support your choice.

        • Kriss

          No, bsummers, you didn’t come across as critical at all. :) I just wanted to point out that we’re not trying to tell people they should be barefoot, so we don’t want people telling us we should wear shoes. Though, their feet would be much healthier if they did ditch the shoes, but that’s a personal decision, and nobody should ever be telling anybody what they should or should not be wearing on their feet.

  8. Adam

    Shelly, I am surprised to read that you are a Church-goer with intolerant and un-Christian views like that. Christian love Is all about celebrating the souls of people in our community, regardless of their dress, race, social status, cleanliness, wealth etc. You should not worry about their “soles”! Nobody will force you to look at them or to go barefoot yourself. Incidentally, what does “cuteless” mean?

  9. ApePeeD

    “No shirt, no shoes” is not so much a health issue as a “hippies aren’t welcome” issue. It’s been around so long, that restaurants might not even know the real history behind it.
    Not like I actually mind…

    • Kriss

      Indeed. The signs started around the early 1970s as a way to keep left-leaning hippies out of conservative owned businesses. Hippies aren’t around any more, but the signs remained and took on a life of their own.

      Interesting along those lines, a friend of mine who lives in France recently posted a Facebook comment regarding going barefoot, “It really saddens me when I read about all those troubles you [have] over in the US. Isn’t it supposed to be the land of the free ? When looking very hard we don’t even come close to 1% of your troubles here in Europe.

      It’s true. Nowhere in Europe will you find signs banning bare feet, and discrimination against a choice to not wear shoes is almost nonexistent there.

  10. I don’t understand irrational responses like Shelly’s, or the silly person comparing bare feet to his desire to wave his genitals at people (newsflash: in contrast to the complete absence of laws mandating footwear, laws prohibiting obscenity are universal). In particular, the notion that policing what other people put on their own feet is “conservative” amuses me greatly. As I understand traditional conservativism, it emphasizes the value of personal liberty. Demanding the “right” to dictate that I strap unwanted and harmful accessories to my feet is the exact opposite of that philosophy. Shelly, why do you hate America? Why do you hate freedom?

  11. Dan

    You do not want to see my bare feet while dining in a restaurant, but if I wear the common flip-flops, it is Ok, being that most of you ladies wear those all the time.

    Now – what is the difference between bare feet, and wearing these rubber pads with two straps where you can see most of the foot? I am covering the sole and you can not see the dirt on the bottom? or is it the foot itself that you are disgusted by?

    This is a neurosis, I do not want to see your painted toes while you wear open toed sandals, so would you stop going with these kind of shoes?

    • Kriss

      Good points, Dan. With flip-flops, which are worn by pretty much everybody nowadays, you see as much of a person’s foot as you’d see if they’re barefoot – even the bottom, as they flip-flop along while walking or while dangling as the person sits with their foot up off the floor.

      So what’s the difference? The difference is really all in someone’s mind. I think it’s just the knowing that a barefoot person’s soles are actually touching the floor or the ground – and that’s what they seem to have a problem with – again, all in their mind. Complaining about not wanting to see someone’s bare feet, but having no problem with feet in flip-flops, is just not rational.

  12. own2feet

    The letter-writer is correct in stating that going barefoot harms no one, least of all the person who chose to walk without shoes. There has been greater barefoot acceptance over the past several years, but there’s still a long way to go. Some people don’t like seeing others go barefoot, but then again, some people don’t like seeing others in high heels (to use just one foot-related example). The mere sight of someone in heels makes me uncomfortable, but do I use that to lash out at the person wearing heels or try to get that freedom of choice taken away from them? Of course not. Freedom means different things to different people, and for those of us who enjoy the sensations that accompany walking (or running) without shoes, barefoot freedom is a liberty we hold dear.

  13. Kriss makes an excellent point. His going barefoot is a personal choice which is perfectly legal and harms no one. People who claim to be “offended” need to understand that there is no constitutional right not to be offended. In fact, claiming “offense” is a way people who feel powerless try to gain power over others who make different choices. If I am offended by the sight of certain clothing, do I have a right to order others to remove it? Of course not! America is built on tolerance for individual differences, not on bullying one another into pointless compliance.

  14. Tracy Rose

    Xpress encourages a full discussion of the issues, but personal attacks are not permitted in this forum. This comment will be deleted.

  15. People should be able to wear whatever they want. Owner’s of restaurants and bars should be allowed to have a dress code of their choosing. If one doesn’t conform to the dress code, go to a business without the restriction and support them.

    • Kriss

      I agree. People should be able to wear what they want. The problem with “have a dress code” is that very few restaurants and stores actually have an official “dress code.” Why would they anyway, especially if it’s a casual place? I’m not talking about places that require a coat and tie (is there any place in Asheville like that?). 99.99999% of the public knows how to dress properly without breaking the law. The problem is that more often than not, some low-paid low-level employee makes up his or her own dress code, based only on his or her own misinformation, belief in common myths, or deep seated personal bias against certain parts of the body (could be feet, could be female breasts while breastfeeding). I’ve experienced it a number of times myself, and have read numerous accounts of it – the employee says “shoes required,” the manager when called says, “no, that’s not the case.” I’ve even heard employees swear “there’s a sign on the door,” when there was no such sign. These are people who’ve just been brainwashed throughout their lives to believe that bare feet are somehow “illegal” or otherwise “bad,” and that every business has a “no bare feet” sign on its door. That’s just not the case.

  16. Sick of the Barefoot crap

    Every six months or so, impassioned barefooters write letters like this and they get published because they’re quirky and weird. Then, all the other barefooters create an echo chamber around the original letter indicating how awesome and totally not weird this lifestyle is. Is this seriously your fall-on-your-sword issue? Are you so persecuted? DO YOU HAVE NOTHING BETTER TO FOCUS ON. This is the most trivial and ridiculous issue I can imagine.

    • Kriss

      Wow, I’m amazed that you are so obsessed with this topic that, instead of using your real name, you’re compelled to reflect that obsession in your made up name.

      I don’t think such letters are written nearly that often. Maybe every few years is a little more accurate. And they are published not because they are “ quirky and weird,” but because they reflect a real problem or issue that’s important to the writer. That’s what all the letters on Mountain Xpress are about, real problems or issues important to the writer. Obviously not all issues written about are important to everyone else, which is why we have the option to ignore them.

      I don’t understand how an issue you feel is so “trivial and ridiculous” can have such a negative impact on your own life that you need to complain about other people’s rights to or interest in discussing it. Perhaps you have nothing better to “FOCUS ON” yourself. May I suggest just scroll on by any topic that may contain the word “barefoot” in the future, and you’ll probably be much happier.

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