The Beauty of Bare Feet
If there’s one thing I love and appreciate about surfing, it’s that it gives me one legitimate reason to be barefoot. If you’ve ever met me, you probably looked down while we were shaking hands and wondered why I wasn’t wearing shoes. It’s not a statement-well, maybe it is a little. But it branched from a realization that I had about three years ago. I feel like so many people live their whole lives constantly worried about what people think of them. I was a slave to that mindset until my sophomore year in high school. I did everything I could to please people, or at least make myself think I had their approval. In junior high, I was embarrassed when my dad took me to school in our old Rodeo, and I wouldn’t dare bring a lunch in a brown paper sack, because I was afraid people would think I was poor. When I got to high school, I became obsessed with my style…or lack thereof. All the cool girls wore Hollister and Abercrombie. I knew I couldn’t afford those brands, but I did my best to get my hands on them when I could. Almost all throughout high school, it was a show. I knew that I didn’t look at people the way I assumed they looked at me, but for some reason I always thought people were focused on how lame my outfit or my personality was. I was always at odds with myself, and I constantly wanted to be a different person.
Then the day came when I finally acknowledged something so random that had been bothering me subconsciously for most of my life: I hated shoes. And that was what radically changed things from that point on. I don’t know why I feel so strongly toward something so miniscule and harmless, but I do. I just don’t like the feeling of shoes on my feet. So I stopped wearing them. The reason why this is so significant is because it was the first time I made a decision that wasn’t controlled by what people would think about it. In fact, I had no inhibition at all about the matter; I just took my shoes off and started strolling. After that day, it was rare if you ever saw me with shoes on. Of course, when I was at school I would carry sandals around with me because some of the yard duties would make me wear them if they caught me, but I’d always wait for them to tell me to put them on. I pretty much became “that-girl-who-walks-barefoot”, and that was fine with me. People thought I was weird, and I loved it because I was finally being someone who no one else could be: me.
Besides the liberation I get from going barefoot, there are health benefits that compel me further to ditch my shoes on the daily. While most “shoebies” would disagree, going barefoot is a great way to prevent athlete’s foot and other foot fungus. While dirt and bacteria are a huge factor in the accumulation of foot fungus, without the element of moisture and lack of proper ventilation, it doesn’t stand a chance. In fact, since I stopped wearing shoes, my feet have looked and smelled healthier than when I used to keep them cooped up in those mobile saunas.
My favorite thing about my bare feet are the callouses that have developed. Yep, you read that right. Those babies are my pride and joy. Sounds weird, huh? But it wasn’t until I stopped wearing shoes regularly that I realized just how much we baby our feet. Between manicures and shoes that offer enough cushioning to fill a padded cell, we set our feet up for failure by enabling them to be as fragile and sensitive as a newborn child. Ever since I became a barefooter, I’ve developed these callouses that have allowed me to do crazy things I never thought I’d do. I’ve walked barefoot on the street, rock climbed more efficiently, and even completed a five mile hike (though it hurt pretty bad) completely barefoot! To me, it only makes sense that we should let our feet grow up with us. And not only has the skin on my feet become stronger, but the bones and joints in and around them have become tough as nails too. I can do my favorite activities such as running, rock climbing, and surfing without worrying about breaking a bone or spraining something.
Most importantly, being barefoot makes me feel more in tune with myself and the earth. It connects the spiritual to the physical. And my feet are the physical means by which I experience my metaphorical journey, so by the end of my life, I want them to help me tell my story just as much as my hands will.
Latest posts by Alexandra Romeo (see all)
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