Eschewing shoes: Students walk barefoot despite weather


Not many people are motivated to walk barefoot by watching “Kung Fu Panda.” However, for one group of DeVol Hall suitemates who call their humble abode the “anti-establishment man-town,” walking barefoot outside is a perfectly normal way to express how they challenge what being  “manly” is.

“At first it was ‘Barefoot Walking,’ and now we have a motto,” junior theology and philosophy major Corey Clark said.

(from left to right) Junior Bible/theology and philosophy major Corey Clark, senior psychology and philosophy major Joel Brady, and junior business major Zeke Miller do not wear shoes. The movement began earlier this year with a lap around DeVol in the snow barefoot, but has since turned into an everyday affair. (Photo by Kaitie Fox)

Clark, junior middle childhood education major Zachary Walts, junior business major Zeke Miller and senior philosophy/psychology major Joel Brady started this movement on the first snowy night on campus this year when they decided to run a lap around DeVol barefoot because it was “manly.”

“We discussed about having Romans 5:3-5 as a theme verse,” Brady said.

“Romans 5: 3-5: Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us”

The four men believe that happiness is achieved through meaningful suffering. However, they insisted it was not for spiritual means.

Clark thought he might have gotten minor frostbite because of the weird purple spots on the bottom of his feet.

“We consider it a victory we haven’t lost any toes yet,” Brady said.

However, they are being cautious.

“Every once in a while we take a day of wearing shoes,” Miller said.

They wear their shoes in the cafeteria — where you are not allowed to be shoeless — or when going to internships, Brady said. The men don’t have a set time for walking without shoes but they have been going barefoot for about 16 days.

While they have been wearing no shoes, they have been shown things they didn’t expect. As uncomfortable and painful as this sounds, the four men guaranteed that walking barefoot gives you better traction on ice and through the snow.

“It has become less comfortable to wear shoes,” Brady said. “My feet have become significantly tougher.”

Not wearing shoes has also affected other senses.

[pullquote]We consider it a victory we haven’t lost any toes yet, Brady said.[/pullquote]

“My perception of cold has been changing,” Clark said. “Something that had been mildly hot is now too hot.”

At first their feet were very cold walking around campus, especially in the cold weather. It was hard to get the feeling back in their toes when walking back into buildings.

But despite the cold, Clark said that their feet have been staying clean. Walking on concrete can clean them off.

As odd as it may seem, there may also be some practical health benefits for walking barefoot. According to an article on SheKnows Health and Wellness, walking barefoot can strengthen your ankles, calve, leg and hip muscles. It can also help your agility and equilibrium.

“There is substantial belief that walking and running barefoot is better for you,” Brady said.

What was a one-night adventure has turned into an experiment that has no definite end.

“Even though they said it was rough at first, it has become fairly normal for us not to wear shoes,” Brady said.

They have asked others in DeVol to join them in their endeavor, and they also invite anyone else who is interested to join.

Emily Geig is a co-feature editor for The Aviso AVW.



Lisa Heath is a co-feature editor for The Aviso AVW


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3 replies »

  1. Shoes are also oppressive. Everyone should take a break from shoes. Great for dorm room bonding too.


  2. Hi there. I’ve been asked to comment to clarify a few things. Here goes:

    Mainly what we need to express is that barefoot walking is not an expression of anything for us. It’s….a practice designed to allow us to think about what being a man is. That is not what it started as, mind you. Originally it was mostly a dorm bonding ritual, and it still is to some degree. However, as we continued to walk barefoot we began to consider what being a man is. Notice what is considered manly in society: black coffee, hard work, taking pain without complaint. Suffering, in other words. But we walk barefoot quietly, not attempting to shove it in anyone’s face. The stereotypical man of today is loud and obnoxious, and we would challenge this view. Manliness is quiet and reserved, but not weak and not unnecessarily yielding. Moreover we have discovered that walking barefoot provides an extraordinary connectedness with the world around us. When you feel the grass and the pavement beneath your feet, when you have to be careful where you step, you experience the world is a drastically different manner.

    So why do we walk barefoot? To ponder manliness. To suffer, which we believe is good for us. To experience the world on a different level. To reconsider what is necessary to live happily.

    My sincerest apologies for the nitpicking, but we really do feel strongly about what we are doing, odd as it may seem to others, and we feel compelled to communicate our concerns.

    Corey Clark,

    on behalf on Anti-Establishment Mantown


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