WARNING: Some of the content of this post may be objectionable for some readers. It contains photos of (gasp!) dirty feet. Just sayin'. You've been warned.
There's one aspect of the barefoot lifestyle that's continued to be equally intriguing and confusing to me. If you spend any time perusing the online posts of "hardcore" barefooters, you can't help but find comments about it. It's DIRTY SOLES.
For many barefooters, dirty soles are a badge of honor. People will either gloat about how "black" their soles are or ask others about it as if they are wanting to know how committed they were to the unshod lifestyle. After someone comments about going barefoot somewhere, it's very possible to receive a question like, "How black did your soles get?" or comment like, "I bet your feet got REALLY dirty doing that! Pictures?"
Oh yeah, pictures. There's a LOT of barefooters out there that LOVE to see and post pictures of dirty feet. Again, I think a lot of it is kind of a "badge of honor" thing, but I honestly think a lot of foot fetishists use them for their, um, personal enjoyment. Some of the photos are just dirty feet, like this one:
Now, while some might say, "Oooh, look how dirty his feet are! That is SO AWESOME!" I say, "Wow, he has high arches." But I digress.
Other photos have not just dirty feet in them, but the actual person attached to the dirty feet. This person is often intentionally showing their sole to the camera. An example:
As evidenced by the above picture, sometimes the person's foot isn't even that dirty! For some reason, however, there are lots of people who are into this.
Hey, man, whatever.
But guess what? I've even played along with this, too. I don't know why, but after a New Year's Day run this year, I posed for a couple of photos with Barefoot Rick, a local barefoot runner who's pretty well known throughout the community. The evidence:
SERIOUSLY! WTF IS THAT ABOUT?! WHY DID I DO THAT?!
I really don't get it. To me, going barefoot is really not a competition to see whose feet can get the blackest. I just like to go barefoot because I think it's better for my feet.
In fact, measuring someone's devotion to a barefoot lifestyle by how dirty their soles are is hardly an accurate indicator. This morning, for example, I went for a barefoot run in the neighborhood. I was out for approximately 25 minutes. I got blacker soles from that short time than going barefoot the entire day Saturday -- including shopping at local stores for a few hours.
For those who get some kind of sexual pleasure out of dirty bare feet: Ooookay. Not my thing. For those who see black soles as a badge of honor for going barefoot: Rethink that. It doesn't equate. For those who thing going barefoot is gross because you get dirty soles: I can understand why you think that way, but it's really quite harmless. I regularly tell people that simple baby wipes are very good at wiping off the objectionable dirtiness.
What do you think of black soles and barefooting? Is that what keeps you from trying an unshod lifestyle? Do you see dirty feet as a barefoot badge of honor? Please leave your feedback in the comments below.