Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Wednesday, April 23, 2021

Many’s the time during my college career when I’d walk all over campus barefoot. I wasn’t alone, and it wasn’t just the granola contingent, either — lots of students took advantage of the Florida climate and terrain to regularly feel the ground against their soles. No harm done, and in fact, it probably helped keep the feet strong and healthy.

But that was college. These days, the idea that the human foot is more harmed than aided by footwear is a little hard to swallow, despite the alleged historical background:

[New York Magazine write Adam] Sternbergh calls the ubiquity of footwear a “conspiracy of idiocy.” He points out the probability that at no point did any shoemaker say, “Let’s design something that works with your foot.” In the Middle Ages, for example, people began wearing shoes with higher heels to avoid stepping in other people’s excrement. Today, high heels are considered sexy. Whatever their reasons for wearing the shoes they wear, people don’t usually consider whether a shoe actually works with their foot, he says.

Given the daily barrage of ground-level threats in the big city — various debris, unforgiving surfaces, elements, other people — I’d say the mere protective covering provided constitutes a shoe that “works with your foot”. Preventing damage to the footsies makes human mobility that much more efficient. After that, you can worry about details like gait and support (which is what ends up happening with orthopedic obsessing like this anyway).

Besides, from the glance-through I gave Sternbergh’s article, “You Walk Wrong”, it comes off more as an advocacy for yet another more-perfect ergonomic shoe line, this time some sort of Kevlar-soled slipper. Basically an advertorial filled with claptrap, which is the general consensus from the Bryant Park Project peanut gallery.

Can we live without our shoes? I wouldn’t mind it — after I retire to some warm-weather beach somewhere near the equator (or on the Moon, by midcentury). Until then, my feet will be losing their “war” with the shoes in my closet.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 04/23/2008 08:34:49 AM
Category: Fashion, Science, Society
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