Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Toms Shoes, One Day Without Shoes, and My Thoughts on the whole matter.

Let me just say that I wrote this post late at night so I apologize for any typos you might see. Also this post may and probably does contain strong language, extreme sarcasm, rude language, and hostile remarks towards Toms Shoes. Don't like it?  Get over it.

Alright, my long delayed position on Toms, and their One Day Without Shoes campaign. Last year Toms slogan for this day was "It's Hard Without Shoes." This is one of the MANY lies that Toms tells American consumers to make money off of them and spread myths about what it is to be barefoot. This poster pretty much sums up what kind of company Toms is. Piece by piece I will rip this propaganda apart. 

"Most children in developing countries grow up barefoot whether at play...blah blah...THESE CHILDREN ARE AT RISK." Really Toms? They're at risk? Are you saying that I, someone who has been barefoot for just under a year have tougher feet than kids in third world countries who have never owned a pair of shoes? I don't think so... 

Now...this would appear to be me barefoot standing on a pile of feet have not burst into flames and I am not writhing in pain from lacerated, and infected is this possible?

"CONSTANTLY AWARE of THE GROUND IN FRONT OF YOU," that a bad thing? There was a girl in my city who tragically was killed because she was texting, listening to an iPod, and had her hood up. She was hit by a bus. If she was aware of her surroundings she might be alive today. The reason I bring up this grizzly story is to prove a point. Is it better to numb yourself to the world around you, or use what you were born with to navigate though it. 

Almost by magic I am able to walk through the basement of this long abandoned fire control station in Galilee, Rhode Island without injury. On the ground you can see glass, concrete fragments, wood planks, fencing, wire grates, and all sorts of "hazardous" debris. I simply look where I am going and if something looks dangerous I DONT STEP ON IT!

The next claim "Suffering Regular Cuts & Scrapes,"Dear God can you get any more dishonest? TOMS, I am half way through your poster and I don't need to go on anymore to come to the conclusion you are a despicable lying for profit company masquerading as some sort of charitable foundation. You make me sick. Though it pains me to do so,  I will read on through this poster and continue to address its claims. Ok, back to the claim at hand. Alright...maybe you people who just took your shoes off for the first time, you may get cuts and scrapes, but for those who choose to live barefoot, cuts and scrapes are almost a non issue.

If the glass, concrete fragments, and other debris didn't hurt me, the splintery frame of a house under construction must have loaded my feet full of splinters and rusty that would be a cuts & scrapes. If you don't believe me ask any barefooter. The lies are piling up Toms...

"Tending to Infection After Each Walk," OH MY GOD INFECTIONS NOW START, DEVELOP, AND MANIFEST THEMSELVES IN THE TIME IT TAKES TO WALK FROM ONE PLACE TO ANOTHER!"Well, clearly we are screwed...not just barefooters, if infections suddenly work like that we are all clearly going to die. Now consider I understand it, for an infection to happen there generally has to be some sort of open wound. I could be wrong on that but thats sort of an as far as I know thing. Anyway, this one is to all the women that are reading. How many of you have worn a shoe that gave you a blister or a sore? I have too, but I feel like women's shoes do this more. Anyway now lets look at the shoe, warm, dark, and moist, now that great little African kid gets his new pair of Toms, gets a blister because his feet are not used to being confined in shoes and we have the perfect recipe for an infection. 

Still thinks Toms is so great? 

"And Enduring Not Only Enduring Terrain, but Heat & Cold." Enduring terrain? Are you kidding me? Ask any barefooter, we become connoisseurs of all different kinds of terrain. We seek out new things to step on and feel.  To someone who lives barefoot stepping on things hardly ever is uncomfortable. Now to the heat and cold. I have no pictures for heat, but I can say that it really is not that difficult to walk on even asphalt on a hot day, that said, there are always ways around it, stepping on the white, running, or walking around. Cold however, I have many pictures of. 

While I am not aware of anywhere in africa not on the top of a mountain where snowfall is common...I think this picture very well illustrates that to a barefooter, snow is not a problem. So I've gone down this poster and in my opinion torn down every claim Toms makes, now to the meat of my rant. (Yes there's more. No I am not sorry).

Toms One Day Without Shoes is an event held every year to raise awareness of the suffering of children all over the world who have no shoes. As you can see, Toms has quite a brilliant team of marketers and spin doctors. Their One Day Without Shoes event really plays right into their hands. It is important to remember that Toms IS has been and always will be a FOR PROFIT company. Shoes weaken the feet. To anyone who is not familiar with me or the barefooter movement that may sound strange. Consider this though, when summer comes and you take your shoes off, it hurts at first, but as the summer goes on it becomes easier. Your feet were weakened all winter by shoes and they have to retrain themselves back up to their natural strength. So the One Day Without Shoes, taking place in April, is a great time to schedule it. While people's feet are still weak from a winter in shoes, but warm enough to get participation. People take off their shoes for a day and try to get an idea of what it feels like for those kids who have no shoes. Naturally, most of the people think it hurts, think its awful and hard. Trust me, that is not what barefooters think and it is not how we feel. The ground is not our enemy as it is with the chronically shod. 

Toms neglects to mention that it would take months of conditioning to get anywhere close to what the lifelong barefoot feel underfoot. But this shock factor plays into their hand and sales of Toms shoes rise. People feel false pity for those who have far healthier feet than they could ever dream of having. 

Now back to what I mentioned, shoes make the foot weak. Not only do they do this, but they cause both short-term and long-term damage all over the body. This phenomenon is well documented and scientifically substantiated. The scientific evidence that shoes improve overall health? I haven't seen any have you?

Wearing shoes only breeds dependence on shoes. As your feet weaken they become more and more dependent on the padding and support they provide. I would hate to see those poor children in africa twenty or thirty years from now suffering from collapsed arches, hammer toes, foot fungus, arthritis, and a whole list of maladies only people in the west seem to get. It is interesting that we "civilized" and "advanced" cannot see what some of our devices are doing to our health. 

That next generation of Africans may grow up in shoes, a whole new array of health problems will rise. I just hope before that happens the mainstream media and medical "experts" will intervene and put a stop to "charitable" organizations like Toms. The minimalist movement is gaining speed, while I see it as shoes companies trying to save their sinking ship by marketing to the timid, I would rather see a woman in five fingers than 6" stiletto heels. That is just needless self destruction. One has to pick their battles and take any small victory when it comes their way. 

For extra food for thought, I have some more well thought out, less sarcastic, and more professional articles written on the subject. 

Alright well html links are being uncooperative so I will just let you copy and paste. Also the second seems to have disappeared from the internet but if I find it I will link it.

Remember folks.

Barefooting is easy
Barefooting is good for you
Barefooting is NOT illegal
Join the revolution

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  1. I was looking forward to your post today... Maybe tomorrow.

  2. sorry about that! I didnt forget about posting today but it was a beautiful day so I spent it outside, can you blame a guy for wanting to walk barefoot through the city on a beautiful day? haha. Its up now though.

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  3. The problem of the children in the 3rd world is not that they don't have shoes. The problem is that they don't have food.

    I am a half-year barefooter and I absolutely agree with you. Cuts and scrapes are almost a non-issue for an experienced barefooter. Going barefoot always and everywhere is great.

  4. I've been a semi-barefooter for a few years now... I'm a girl and I like some of my cute flip flops and flats... But I go barefoot when I can/want.
    We've gotten in trouble at our college for being barefoot. The school 'dress code' thing says you have to wear shoes to class and events. But in the cafeteria and a food lounge they put up a sign that says the food department has a law that you have to wear shoes, which is an absolute lie... at least in Oklahoma. So we talked to them about that and the sign came down a week later.

    I love this article... You hit every point and argued... maybe not to the best of your abilities, but you still argued.
    As barefooters we see what you're talking about, but to people who have worn shoes all of their life it looks like you're just making stuff up like TOMS... maybe put up or quote statistics or another article that backs you up.

    Thanks for posting. It's a good article. I may be a longer barefooter (in a way), but I'm still not brave enough to go barefoot in the snow. I've done it a couple of times, but I get too cold too easy... Plus I really just hate being cold =/ ... Maybe next winter I'll try again.

    Happy Barefooting.

  5. I at some point will throw up some statistics concerning this whole matter. There are some people I have talked to about toms and it finally clicked in their heads. I will have new articles coming up with more statistical data and specifics. My rants like this though seem to get a lot more attention. But thats how America seems to work, rants hold more influence to some than facts and data. Thats why I use a few approaches to get the message out.

    Thanks for the comment

  6. The whole Toms thing is just the usual showing-off nonsense: "look at us, we're helping the poor" and now we feel better about ourselves. First, as you know, going barefoot is not a particularly horrific or pressing issue: it's the normal, natural state of humanity. The problem is not that huge numbers of people are not wearing shoes; the problem is that huge numbers of people are. Second, the Toms extravaganza just directs attention away from the real problem, which is inequality. The problem is not that people in developing nations have no shoes; the problem is that Americans each have ten pair! The problem is that the people marching around barefoot one day of the year under the Toms banner are all hogging too much of the earth's limited resources for the other 364 days of the year. That makes the whole thing just another political show with no serious substance. In the thirteenth century, St. Francis and his followers went barefoot as a sign of solidarity with the poor also (and as a spiritual ascetic practice), but they did so on a permanent basis. They were the real thing. So, being barefoot is not a problem; if you argue that it is, you at least have to admit that it is nowhere near the most pressing problem; and the whole Toms thing is just another example of a wealthy society making token gestures with regard to issues that are hardly even real. Sadly, it's the American way: pick a non-issue and make some token gestures regarding it and thereby direct attention away from what is actually going on and ease your own personal guilt. It's really quite sad.

  7. Shoes are a lot like drugs. They give a sort of superficial, temporary comfort, along with the illusion that you need them to function. As you know, people become dependent on them and easily buy into the fiction that they are a necessity or a requirement. What the drug pushers (in this case, shoe corporations) are looking to do is widen their customer base by making it seem that the wearing of shoes is a necessity and that the non-wearing of them is a debilitating problem that must be rectified. In the meantime, of course, they will make huge amounts of money when formerly barefoot people gradually buy into the erroneous notion that they are incomplete without a pair of Nikes. The Toms movement may have good intentions (as do-gooders often do), but it's really just another cog in the wheel of capitalism: tell them they need shoes, help them get some in the short run, and then sell them many more over the course of the long run. It's a situation very much connected to the "shoes required" entry signs that purport to be in service of good health, when in fact they are in the service of capitalism: the real reason for those signs is not to promote health (how utterly absurd is the notion that bare feet are unhealthy), but to keep a certain "element" out of the store. Bare feet are associated in the capitalist mind with poor people, beatniks, hippies, etc., all groups that are unlikely, given the broader prejudices of our society, to "make a good impression" in a store (or to buy much, for that matter). It's about appearances and about money. Same old story. Welcome to America.

  8. Hey man, thanks for typin this up. My college had a huge ODWS event, and I spent the weeks beforehand ranting against TOMS shoes. I've never been a fan of the organization, even before I became a full-time barefooter. What I could never fathom is why their shoes cost $50+ and yet they can only afford to send ONE pair of shoes to a "child in need" per pair bought. Regardless, I (and my full-time barefooting girlfriend) were treated as soulless gits for not going all nuts over TOMS. In fact, about a fortnight after ODWS we had something called Ecopalooza, a celebration of all things sustainable and Earth friendly. GF and I were barefoot (naturally) and I was wearing a sign that said "Ask me why barefooting is better for the environment!" I got into a discussion with a self-labeled "hippie" who would not stop singing the praises of TOMS and straight up told me that my going without shoes was a terrible and dangerous idea, and that my dislike of TOMS is deplorable. TOMS has certainly indoctrinated a ton of people to their 'holier-than-thou' ways.

    Rock on, sole brother.

  9. I agree with the your statements. i like five finger vibrams,five finger vibrams also make you satisfied.

  10. i know that shoes are bad for u but how about the fact that these kids cant go to school or get a good education or job????

  11. This is GREAT! I've been going barefoot since last year or so, and I LOVE it!!!!! Even though I've been told to wear shoes, I still take them off to be free and to let my feet breathe. How fun! Yes, TOMS are shall be banned forevermore! Amen!

  12. Last year Toms slogan for this day was "It's Hard Without Shoes. ...

  13. Dirty Hippies, all of Ye.

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