Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: First Footing

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  • Josh Addison,

    Possible TMI: As a child, I used to have some sort of icky fungal skin thing on my feet that would flare up every summer when my feet got sweaty in their shoes, meaning I'd spend as much time out of shoes as possible. (It also meant that come winter time, I'd be left with big scars down the sides of each foot, which went a lovely purple when we had to run - barefoot - around the cold, wet school field for PE...) I have no specific dislike of shoes, but I still tend to take them off as soon as I get home every day - it doesn't feel like my feet can breathe otherwise.

    Onehunga, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 298 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    One of the things that struck my mother when she emigrated here in 1950 was that children went barefoot everywhere, unlike in England. This horrified my maternal grandmother: as far as she was concerned, shoelessness could only mean you were too poor to afford shoes.

    Luckily she got over it by the 70s so we did in fact go barefoot most of the summer. I clearly remember that we wore roman sandals to school but took them off at the first opportunity. Lost shoes were a perennial problem.

    I'd quite like a pair of roman sandals for this summer, which I will wear in ironic hipster homage to my intermediate school uniform...

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones,

    I'm pretty sure they make you take off the heels if you're about to hit the big inflatable plane crash slide. They wouldn't want you to put a hole in it. I suspect running over flaming aisle carpets isn't much fun barefoot, but neither is having nylon stockings melt onto your skin and they don't ban those. They might even make flight attendants wear them.

    I'm very careful about my inflight foot and legwear. Sneakers and heavy cotton wherever possible.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 976 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    Oh, Emma, me too. I hate shoes. I would never wear them if I didn't have to. And clothes too. But that's another story altogether. I'm not as brave as you though when it comes to the freedom of my feet. Yes, I often wear them bare when I go to the supermarket or dairy, and I don't wear shoes at work ( I wear them to work, I just take them off), possibly easier for a kindergarten teacher than some professions, I'll warrant. But. But. I have tender feet. Broad peasanty bunioned tender feet. They don't take to stones etc kindly, so I have to wear shoes sometimes. I will take your post as inspiration, though, to wear them less often.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Dowden,

    In the late 90s I was an outdoor ed. instructor on the Isle of Wight. We had a new group of Year 6ers from a school somewhere in England each week.

    Part of our routine was to 'excitedly' welcome the kids as they exited their bus. This generally led to the same 2nd question* from almost every child from every school, "Why aren't you wearing any shoes?". Very few of them had any idea of how lovely it was to walk on grass sans sneakers (they invariably called them "trainers" but there's no alliteration).

    Myself and the other Antipodean backpacker outdoorsy types were always very pleased when, by the end of the week, the same kids got on their bus: grubby, tired, happy and barefoot!


    *The first question (boy or iril) was always who 'your team' was.

    Canberra • Since Dec 2007 • 38 posts Report Reply

  • Bob Munro,

    Can't find the reference .. but somewhere,

    Hamish Keith tells the story of having to find shoes for the potter Barry Brickell when he went to Government House to receive an honour. Brickell's feet were so broad from years of going shoeless that all they could find to fit him were a pair of beige suede desert boots that had to be coated with black nugget to meet the required dress standard.

    Christchurch • Since Aug 2007 • 418 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    If you'd have been David Haywood your barefootedness would no doubt have been the cause for a sever beating. Lucky for you, eh?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    My standard line is: "shoes? funerals, trade shows and snow" (well weddings too) - I've had the one pair of dress shoes for over a decade and some ski boots

    I've worn Birkenstocky-like things for 30 years, barefoot round the house - my feet smelled so foul as a kid, ditching shoes when I went to Uni was wonderfull

    Living in Dunedin I occasionally get "aren't you cold?" to which the usual answer is something like "they're warm, look they're glowing a healthy bright red - my ears are cold ...."

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    If you'd have been David Haywood your barefootedness would no doubt have been the cause for a sever beating. Lucky for you, eh?

    I'm starting to wonder what didn't get Haywood beaten up. It's a wonder he's as normal as he is.

    I'm very careful about my inflight foot and legwear. Sneakers and heavy cotton wherever possible.

    Anywhere I'm going to be pushed for leg-room, like the movies or on a plane, I really hate having to wear shoes. It's like having the seat in front of me an inch closer. If I'm going to be sitting for a long time, I want to be comfortable.

    Like Jackie, if I have to wear shoees somewhere, I'll take them off as soon as possible.

    I will take your post as inspiration, though, to wear them less often.

    Yes, use me as a role model. So it begins...

    shoelessness could only mean you were too poor to afford shoes.

    My Nanna's attitude was the same. She lived in Devon until her family emigrated here when she was nineteen (in 1913), and she was horrified by pretty much everything I did. But yes, shoelessness was for urchins and reflected badly on my family. I wish my kids would wear shoes less - my son's shoe consumption is measurable in dollars per month.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    I do prefer shoe-wearing (habit, and a very nasty piece of pipi shell half-wy through my foot at a tender age) but I completely sympathise on the not-noticing thing. My sister and my mother adore shoes, and it drives me bonkers. Especially when they tell me I should throw out *perfectly functional* shoes because they're "looking a bit tatty".

    1) If there aren't any holes, they're not that tatty
    2) Shoes are too bloody expensive for me to be buying a new pair every year. Or every six months, as they seem to think is appropriate.

    What I really want out of shoes is...no blisters. And no wet feet. I'm pretty much indifferent to the rest. There is one small exception, but that's only 'cause I'm short and they're stable four-inch heels, and I enjoy the sensation of looking people in the eye for the half-hour or so I can stand to wear them.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    They're broad and flat and peasanty, and I don't care.

    Mine too, and neither do I... except when it comes to buying shoes.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    I counted once, and I have over fifty pairs of shoes. Do I get pelted with old jandals for even venturing into this thread?

    (I am, however, pro-bare-feet in general. It's one of the great delights of living in New Zealand, and a visit to the beach with shoes on is just plain wrong. Even in winter.)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Isabel Hitchings,

    I'm fairly sure the Womens Lifestyle Expo would bring me out in a rash. My friend was recently raving about how much she loved getting her eyebrows "done" and I realised I must have slept through all the girl 101 lectures.

    I do, however, wear shoes whenever i leave the house but mostly due to fear of bees.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2007 • 719 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    A shoeless friend picked me up from Auckland airport yesterday. It made me smile.

    I recently read an article about a new movement of shoelessness. there's the idea that shoes stop the foot from naturally flexing as we walk, which can cause various problems with feet, legs, spine. While in the past, people with foot problems were advised to wear super padded shoes, now it's suggested they go shoeless.

    Also, the Society for Barefoot Living!

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1946 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Savidge,

    I've always had the softest spot for me old bare feets. Y'know, they keep me grounded and connect me with 'ol Mother earth and all that hippy shit.

    And once I even managed to raise eyebrows in that other haven of the bare sole, Hawaii, by doing an eighteen mile hike sans bulky boots as all the tourists and a few locals trudged by in their leather and goretex creations. Tootsies were a wee bit tender by the end (I guess I forgot about the volcanic origins of the place) but I really wanted to feel the red soil and frangipani flowers underfoot for hours on end. I also had the pleasure of wading through every stream I encountered without worrying about getting any stupid socks wet.

    And my feet smelled like frangipangi for hours afterwards!

    I really enjoy driving barefoot too.

    Somewhere near Wellington… • Since Nov 2006 • 324 posts Report Reply

  • Sam F,

    I really enjoy driving barefoot too.

    Just reading that sentence brings back delicious memories of summer camping holidays. Driving in jandals comes a poor second, and of course is dangerous to boot (ooh, dontcha love subconscious puns?).

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1609 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Beard,

    I have the sort of broad feet that makes most shoes uncomfortably narrow, so of course I ... put up with the pain so that I can squeeze my feet into some slim and stylish Italian numbers, rather than be seen wearing something clumpy from the Last Footwear Company. I'm not going to go to the bother of being fitted for a bespoke linen suit just to ruin it with bad shoes.

    Clearly I'm not in touch with Mother Earth: I don't like walking barefoot on grass, and I even try to avoid walking on grass in shoes. Risk getting mud on my new Moma suede brogues? I don't think so! Luckily, there's not much grass around where I live.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1040 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby,

    heck, probably the one thing about being in mount maunganui is the bare-feet. it means that the second i'm home here in wellington the shoes are off.

    and yup, driving without shoes is one of lifes little pleasures. especially the prickly walk from the forecourt to the counter across the little tiny stones.

    they make my feet tingle all the way to the nape of my neck.

    awesome.

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • Hadyn Green,

    I counted once, and I have over fifty pairs of shoes. Do I get pelted with old jandals for even venturing into this thread?

    I have a vast array of sneakers at home and I love shoes. For some reason if I'm barefoot I can't get anything done. I'll just lie about on the couch.

    Perhaps it's my Tauranga/Mount Maunganui upbringing too: if you're barefoot, relax.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2090 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    Now Hadyn, that can't be true. I was born and bred in Auckland and spent my childhood barefoot. Makes no difference. Interesting theory, though.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    I counted once, and I have over fifty pairs of shoes. Do I get pelted with old jandals for even venturing into this thread?

    I have to admit I can't even picture what this looks like. I'm basically a hedonist, so I have no problems with taking pleasure from having lots of shoes, I just can't grok it.

    I buy a pair of black boots at the start of every winter. When I do wear shoes I walk heel-first and hard - it's been described as the sort of walk Jessica Rabbit would have after joining the Wermacht, and it destroys the heels of boots. But I'm pretty sure I still haven't owned fifty pairs of shoes in my entire adult life.

    But every time I go clothes shopping I have to forcibly tell myself that I don't need a sixth black skirt.

    I do, however, wear shoes whenever i leave the house but mostly due to fear of bees.

    Yeah, I get stung quite a bit.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Savidge,

    Even better than mere barefoot driving is piloting a left-hand drive auto with your left foot dangling out the window!!

    Of course a certain amount of flexibility is required.

    Somewhere near Wellington… • Since Nov 2006 • 324 posts Report Reply

  • Carolyn Skelton,

    Some people in NZ also associate bare feet with poverty. One winter when was in primary school, I resisted my mother's intensive pleas for me to wear shoes to school. I was getting too much pleasure from the barefoot experience, but I think for most folks around me, the Kiwi barefoot thing was for summer.

    Eventually my concerned teacher took me aside and asked me if my parents could afford to buy me shoes. I think somehow the message was conveyed to my parents and, not surprisingly, my mother was mortified that we were considered so impoverished, and her so uncaring.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 39 posts Report Reply

  • Rogan Polkinghorne,

    Phew. I've thought for a long time that perhaps my dislike of shoes/footwear in general was weird...glad I'm not alone!

    I just don't get the need for mountains of shoes...you can only wear one pair at a time! I have a strict '2 pairs max' policy; one pair for work/formal occasions, and another pair for casual which normally only see concerts etc. 50 pairs? That's craaaaazy (and expensive?)

    A-town • Since Nov 2006 • 105 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Darlington,

    Shoeless Thoughts:

    1. When my kids were much younger we had friends visiting, one was from England and he visibly winced at our kids running up and down our gravel drive in bare feet. He couldn't believe that they could do it.

    2. In Spain earlier this year. Shoeless is very very bad and our almost constantly shoeless kids got a lot of laughter and pointing from the local kids who were all immaculately dressed, including shoes.

    3. Also in Spain. The young kids and teens on the metro looking for gullible tourists to rip off would always start with a shoe check. Fancy, shiny shoes, especially shiny white ones beloved of a certain type of tourist meant sure money. Beat up Converse sneakers with ripped jeans, not so much.

    Nelson • Since Nov 2006 • 949 posts Report Reply

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