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Yankees, Hackers, and Barefoot Shoes

What do Yankees, hackers, and barefoot shoe wearers have in common? I’ve learned that history isn’t always as cut and dry as I grew up thinking it was. But as far as I understand it, the term “Yankee” was used by the British and loyalists during the revolutionary war. It was meant to label and demean the American rebels. It didn’t work. Why? Because the so called Yankees adopted the name and rolled with it. It had no power over them. When I was a kid, I recall a time when a hacker was considered a very negative term. It wasn’t just someone who was tech savvy who was able to solve complex problems, but a criminal who used their computer skills to steal, break, destroy, and take advantage. I’m not really sure how all that changed, but at some point in my life, I noticed that the term “hacker” had been adopted by a certain demographic of people who were tech savvy but used their skills to think outside of the box and solve real world problems. They were improving their lives, and also improving the lives of other people around them. A hacker doesn’t even always apply to someone who is tech savvy!
So… what does this have to do with barefoot shoes?
The common thread between hackers and Yankees is that both groups of people took a term that was given to them which had a negative meaning, and by simply owning it, they took the negativity out of it and turned it into something positive!
I’ve seen barefoot shoes that are trying to look “normal” by giving the appearance of things like a raised heel, etc. Why? Why are we giving power to the perception that raised heels and narrow toe boxes are somehow superior? As long as we keep doing that, then the world’s perception of barefoot shoes is going to remain negative. Instead of trying to make barefoot shoes that look like conventional shoes, we need to put the top priority on making shoes that work for the human foot, then eventually our perception of what is “normal” will change. It’s a longer process and involves a little more discomfort, but those are usually the most meaningful processes in our lives!
To be clear, I’m not advocating for poor design, or not putting any attention to beauty or style. Not at all! I am advocating for stepping up and having confidence in yourself. Don’t fake it in order to fit in. If you care about your feet, body, and overall health, then own it! It will do more good in the long run for you and for the human race.
Believe it or not, there are people out there that look up to you. Yes, you! I don’t care who you are or what level of perceived influence you think you have, all of us make decisions that influence other people. As your friends and family see you confidently wear shoes with a wide toe box, flexible, low profile, or different in any way, it is going to make a subtle shift in their brains about what is normal, acceptable, and even attractive. This applies to more than just shoes with a flexible sole. There are a lot of barefoot shoes out there that are just as rigid and structured in the upper part of the shoe. Take that away a shoe begins to look differently. But it functions differently as well.
Maybe we can take it to a whole new level and apply this to going barefoot as well! Yes, we make shoes but we strongly advocate for going barefoot where appropriate. There is a stigma about going barefoot and I’ve noticed that is changing! So here is my call. Let’s “hack” the system of conventional shoes and take away the power of raised heels by confidently wearing shoes that are best for our feet, or not wearing any shoes at all!