How is it that our society's collective thinking has gotten so twisted that we now believe that I could be liable if people use their feet as nature intended and that shoe companies are free from liability for weakness, stiffness, skin conditions and other ailments that are caused or exacerbated by their products? Do you see how topsy turvy that thinking is?
I wonder how many billions of dollars have been spent in the U.S. in the last half century to pay for the various treatments of ailments caused - or at least exacerbated - by shoes including...
- Plantar fasciitis
- Fallen arches
- Morton's Neuroma
- Dry/cracked skin
- Toenail fungus
- Athlete's foot
- Ingrown toenails
- Stress fractures
- And more!
I assert that a great number of these ailments would have never occurred if people had gone barefoot more. Would injuries have happened to barefoot persons? Sure, but I'd bet it'd be far fewer than many would like to believe and that the overall costs of treating such problems would have been less.
If I would be liable for someone who goes barefoot getting injured, why aren't the shoe manufacturers liable for all the ailments listed above that their products may have caused for their customers?
It would be interesting to see how a class-action lawsuit against shoe companies would play out. Would it be thrown out by a judge? Would the plaintiffs successfully plead their case that shoe companies sold their products knowing full well that they could cause these ailments in customers without warning them of such dangers? Would the defense actually try to convince the court that shoes don't cause any of these ailments or that shoe wearers should have known the risks involved?
This feels a lot like the lawsuits that were successfully brought against the cigarette industry years ago. These huge companies spent loads of money in reparations after they'd been found guilty of duping and damaging the American public to make a buck. Warning labels were required on EVERY pack of cigarettes thereafter. The shoes available for sale and use today are just as bad for the feet as cigarettes are for the lungs, but many people don't know it.
Daniel Howell, PhD, author of The Barefoot Book and a professor of biology, believes that sellers of high heeled shoes should put warning labels on them. I agree. How many women would stop wearing heels if they knew that 20,000 women go to the hospital each year due to heel-related injuries? How many women would stop wearing heels if they knew they were far more likely to develop bunions, hammertoes, Morton's Neuroma, corns and other ailments because of them? Are the high heel manufacturers telling their customers this vital information? NO, but they should be.
If someone wants to sell us footwear or cigarettes, we should go into the purchase knowing what risks are ahead of us. Most importantly, if we want to opt out of using such products, we have every right do so and should not be forced by anyone to use products that will likely cause us some harm.
Worth noting is that no one had to convince anyone else that breathing without smoke in your lungs is a good, natural thing. That said, why does society put the burden of proof on barefooters that going barefoot is good, natural and acceptable behavior? As I've stated on this blog before, barefoot is the baseline. It is the natural condition for our feet, just as breathing non-smoky air is for our lungs. Sure, there are risks involved, but we understand that as part of our human nature. That said, I can't tell you how many barefooters have been told to put on shoes for their "safety."
Imagine if a restaurant manager changed the way you dine for your "safety.":
"Good evening, sir. I see you ordered the steak. Because of that I'm going to have to ask you to wear these protective gloves while you use your steak knife to cut the food. We don't want you cutting yourself. Alisha here will also be making sure that you've chewed each bite thoroughly and that you're not speaking before you swallow each bite. We don't want you choking, after all. Just looking out for your safety!"
When we use a steak knife with bare hands, we know we must be careful lest we get cut. When we eat steak we know we must be careful not to choke. Likewise, when we go barefoot we understand we must be careful not to step on something dangerous or stub our toes. We don't need someone coddling us and protecting us from things we already know and understand! What we DO need is more public education on the harm that shoes are actually doing to our feet.
What do you think? Should shoe manufacturers be held liable for selling the public on products that exacerbate foot ailments? Should shoes come with warning labels? Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below.