Is going barefoot old-fashioned summer fun or something else?

Growing up in Georgia we would spend the whole summer barefoot.  We would run out the door and through grass to our friends’ houses and down to the creek. Sometimes we would “fire walk” on the black asphalt but you couldn’t do that in the middle of the day. You would burn the soles of your feet and that, my friends, is not fun.

Michael thinks my feet are so rough because I was barefoot as a kid all the time. I think I just need a pedicure.

(The New York Times Well section recently ran a blog about is it healthier to run barefoot?)

I think flip flops are so popular now that maybe kids are wearing flip flops instead of going barefoot. Are parents more afraid of stepping on stuff or is it just that flip flops are more socially acceptable?

Arizona is even more flip flop crazy than Georgia I think. These folks wear flip flops literally year round and even to church! I have multiple pairs of flip flops here — including my everyday flip flops and my rhinestone fancy flip flops. Did you know flip flops could be fancy?

The pavement is too hot here to risk the fire walk so the kids keep flip flops and other slip-on sandals by the door. I also worry about stepping on scorpions here. Plus there isn’t much grass. It’s mostly rocks between yards and that is a different circus act. (Hot rock walking – two skills, not just one.)

So is going barefoot a happy part of a carefree summer or a great way to step on bee, get Athlete’s Foot and develop calluses? Is going barefoot old fashioned fun or something else? Do your kids head out to play barefoot or would you never allow it? Do you think flip flop popularity is cutting into barefoot time?

– Theresa Walsh Giarrusso, Momania. Follow me on Twitter (ajcMomania) and read what I am reading each day. Great stories on family health, family fun, parenting,  fashion, stars, and more. )

32 comments Add your comment

Hey, JJ...

June 22nd, 2011
12:05 pm

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If you are just now...

June 22nd, 2011
12:09 pm

…figuring out the usefulness of flip-flops then, even if you say you grew up in GA, you did not really grow up around here (though I know you did). Even the belles at UGA have worn them forever. Everyone knows that flip-flops can be fancy, and have been since motherjane and I were kids (way back in the dark ages).

Surely you jest when you say that they are worn more in AZ than in GA…


June 22nd, 2011
12:25 pm


June 22nd, 2011
12:36 pm

I went barefoot all the time growing up (in MD) and thought it was cool as soon as the calluses formed. Now, I have my kids wear sandals outside except for at the pool, but even then they want to wear shoes because it’s too hot and the bottom of their feet burn. It drives me nuts to step on all the little bits of stuff on the ground, and I can tell my kids move faster with shoes on, so we go with shoes. Maybe if we were in a cooler climate, it would be different.

The flip-flops are a different story. This is the first year I bought them for my kids (6 & 8 yo) because I hate the way they look (sloppy and lazy), the way they sound (slapslapslapdragslap…) and the way they are not good for your feet, back, etc. I don’t want to be responsible for any future health issues, so I’ve avoided them until now. I made a point to try and get ones that seemed more supportive and had larger straps, but I won’t buy them again. They continually fall off, still are loud and obnoxious the way they slap on the floor and I can tell my kids have to walk differently to keep them on. What a terrible trend that I hope goes away soon. And now college students think it’s okay to wear flip-flops to a job interview. The only time that I think it’s okay is if you are going out to dinner or a show and it goes with your outfit (along the lines of wearing high heels… i.e. it should only be worn occasionally). Okay, I’m done with my rant…back to work. :-)


June 22nd, 2011
12:37 pm

By the way, when I say that the kids wear shoes outside, I mean sandals, like Keens. I don’t put them in knee high socks and Mary Janes. :-)


June 22nd, 2011
12:57 pm

My two go barefoot all the time..Inside and outside..Once I get in my car after work, my shoes are off until I go into a store, otherwise they are off until I go back into work again..

I don’t wear flip flops and never have, but the kids have them and will wear them at times..The girl was stung by a bee yesterday, no big deal..She got back in the creek and finished her day..

Calluses and Athlete’s Foot? No, I don’t worry about that..If their feet get a little rough around the edges, use a file and smooth it out..As for Athletes Foot, they sell medicine for that..I have about a 3 inch scar on the side/bottm of my foot from jumping up to catch a frisbee and landing on a broken Pepsi bottle when I was about 12..My Mom washed and cleaned it, then wrapped it in a nice tight bandage..

Theresa, love you dearly, but chill out..Have anice cool drink, grab a book and let the kids run free..You really do worry way to much about some things..

mom of 3

June 22nd, 2011
1:00 pm

Shoes, sandals, or flip flops for me outside but then I’m in my 50’s. However, totally barefoot or only socks inside – I really hate shoes. Love to buy them hate to wear them. My grandson – barefoot on grass just not hot surfaces. I remember going barefoot everywhere I went in Myrtle Beach – even the amusement parks. That sounds horrible now.


June 22nd, 2011
1:04 pm

I love to go barefoot in the grass after a good rain……..


Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

June 22nd, 2011
1:11 pm


June 22nd, 2011
1:11 pm

I am a barefoot kind of girl. Spent part of my childhood in St. Pete, we were barefoot all the time. At home I will go outside without shoes, but my husband has to stop and put on shoes. My Mom still loves to go barefoot, but has developed issues with her feet and now must have custom orthodics.

Not a fan of flip flops, don’t like the thing between my toes and the noise they make.


June 22nd, 2011
1:17 pm

Seems to me that Theresa is not worrying about this at all, just pondering.
I go barefoot way more than my children. My daughter is more likely to go without shoes in the yard but my son is quite the wimp about these kinds of things and I have never seen him go barefoot. Most of my friends, though, would never let their kids go outside without shoes. They worry about them getting their feet cut, etc.. Hey, if it’s not going to kill them, I’m not worried about it.
We always wore flip flops (the rubber, ugly kind) growing up in GA but my mom was from Hawaii so I felt like we wore them more than my friends did. They were also a very handy paddle for my mom.
Here is what I can’t figure out. The white cement around our pool gets so incredibly hot that the kids nor I can stand to be on it for more than a few seconds. Cement was never this hot when I was little. We just had to avoid the asphalt. Were we more used to it? Is the sun hotter now? Is cement made differently than it used to be? Just wondering.


June 22nd, 2011
1:37 pm

I hate going bare foot but I love my flip flops. There’s no other shoe to wear on the lake. My girls on the other hand could care less if they went out without shoes or not. I remember as a child I hardly ever wore shoes but my feet just can’t take it these days. Homeschooler, I believe it’s getting hotter too.


June 22nd, 2011
2:13 pm

I’ve never liked to wear shoes. Can’t tell you have many stubbed toes I had as a kid and still wouldn’t put shoes on. I grew up in Las Vegas and even in the land of 100+ degree days, I’d find any way possible not to wear shoes.

I love my flip flops but not the Wal-mart $2 cheapees. I like my Tiva Mush sandals, they conform to your feet and have a bit of arch support. I also like my Keen’s and run in my Vibram 5 Fingers; as close to barefoot running as I’m going to get. I have pretty tough feet but I’m not running barefoot. I have lots of flip flops and glad they started making cute/ dressy ones to go with sundresses and such.

I never bought my son flip flops when he was younger b/c they’re tough for little feet to stay in. He usually had sandals of some sort but something with a strap so they wouldn’t fall off and trip him up.


June 22nd, 2011
2:28 pm

@Techmon – I grew up in Vegas too, lived there for 8 years before moving to Colorado. I was born in Reno.


June 22nd, 2011
2:41 pm

Depends on what you consider flip flops. I don’t wear the plastic ones that make noise just never liked them but I do have some very nice leather ones. My son has a nike pair and a pair of addidas sport slides that he loves. I borrow them from time to time. They are great because they slide on and he puts them on after his games so that he doesn’t ruin his cleats walking on the ground.


June 22nd, 2011
3:02 pm

Just back from lunch with DB! Yum!

I never wear shoes around the house. I stubbed my toe this week and it is all black and blue. I stepped in grease, in our garage, last week and had that mess on my feet as I went for a pedicure.
They laughed at me when I came in and said…”we fix it!”

I grew up in the North but have been in the south for most of my life and while I love shoes…never wear them in or around our house. I am very frugal but now get a pedicure at least once a month. I started this about 6 years ago. In the summer, every 2 weeks or so.
I do not own typical flip flops. I have some sandals for the beach or pool but cannot wear the toe thing very long or it makes me crazy.

Our son has a pair of flip flops that he purchased about 5 years ago for $50 plus. They are leather and finally seeing their last days. He wears a size 13 or 14 and cannot often find shoes he likes.
I think he wears them everywhere except work and church.

I will attest to the area around the pool being a scorcher in AZ. You cannot go barefoot unless you can hop quite a ways!


June 22nd, 2011
3:39 pm

I grew up in Florida, and was allowed to be barefoot some. My parents NEVER went barefoot–not sure if they took their socks and shoes off to have***! My dad’s feed were injured in WW2. He froze in an Oflog as a POW after capture in the Battle of the Bulge, and so he was careful with them. My mom had grown up in FL and was proud to always have enough money for shoes–she had quite a lot!

As soon as my eldest daughter started walking, my mom was after me to put shoes on that baby! I was more likely to be barefoot back then around the house, and I like her being “free” also. But I asked the pediatrician, and he said to let her be barefoot unless it wasn’t safe for her to walk without shoes. I explained what my mother said, and he said, “Well, when you are at your mother’s house, IT ISN”T SAFE for her to be without shoes!” Problem solved.

I have blood sugar issues and neuropathy due to sciatica so one foot has lots of spots with limited feeling, so I wear shoes pretty much unless I am in bed or bath. My adult kids are much more relaxed, and my son wears shoes as little as possible. With my grandchildren, I am cool about them being barefoot inside or out in the yard, but the rest of the time I feel safer if they have on shoes.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

June 22nd, 2011
5:27 pm

Love flipflops…CO way of life…we where them in the snow….Reefs are the best, have bottle openers built into them.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

June 22nd, 2011
5:28 pm

of course I meant “wear” them!


June 22nd, 2011
7:53 pm

we wear flip flops..always have. thats if we arent barefoot. only my sons like shoes…us girls like our feet bare.


June 22nd, 2011
8:23 pm

At 50 I’ve been going barefoot every summer since I was about 12, can’t think of a time when I ever injured my feet besides stubbing a toe or two. Kids today don’t know what they are missing and it’s rather sad to see kids in the pool, at the lake or visiting a water park wearing those aqua shoes. I mean a shoe for swimming?? Pu-leeeze! Going barefoot has always been one of my most cherised summertime memories.

I also love flip flops, now that I live in Arizona, I pretty much live in these things when I can not go barefoot. I started wearing “thongs” as we called them then back in 1980 long before they became so popular. I don’t know why some are saying these are bad for you, my back and legs never felt better. I wear the inexpensive Walgreen’s plain rubber flip flops, they feel like I’m walking on marshmallows!


June 23rd, 2011
12:10 am

Barefoot all of the time when not at work. I also go for a pedicure at least once a month, and put cream my feet every night. As a kid,I can remember going shoe shopping just before school started and the shoes would all feel soooo tight! Flip-flops were for the pool or beach, when using the restroom or walking on the blacktop parking lots. My son never goes barefoot outstide. And, on the rare occssion that my husband does, pool to chair, he makes it look so unnatural.


June 23rd, 2011
12:12 am

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June 23rd, 2011
7:12 am

I am a confirmed flip flopper, but like barefoot too. As a kid, living on a working farm, I experienced the ultimate…walking barefoot and having chicken poop squeeze between my toes…mostly green, with a little white topping. Of course we kept cows too, but theirs was not the same “pudding like” consistency. For some strange reason, my mom insisted that I use the water hose every time I came in the house…even when I was wearing shoes…on Sunday.
I just know you city girls needed to get a visual on that.


June 23rd, 2011
9:54 am

@ shaggy…yes I have seen that chicken poop but never walked in it…thanks for the laugh.
I did not need a visual, as I lived on the farm too. Learned quickly why folks do not sit in the front row at the cattle auction. The cows are not potty trained and if they swerve quickly while going potty, that is like tossing a Coke out the window while driving only it landed on my shirt. Not the side of the car. How is that for a visual?

I walked my dog barefooted last night, to the end of the block at 10;30 and thought of y’all!

Barefoot Jake

June 23rd, 2011
10:32 am

I live in St. Louis and I go barefoot often. Even when it is hot out. The more you go barefoot the easier it is to walk on hot ground. I heard in the Society for Barefoot Livinig that there are some people who gone barefoot so much they can put out a burning cigarette and walk on hot coals with little to no problem.


June 23rd, 2011
10:42 am

I am from New York City and I would not even think about going outside barefoot. My summer footware from about Mid-April to Mid to Late October is Flip-Flops and sandals. Otherwise its Sneakers. Uggs/Boots no way. Summer is no fun if your feet if your bare feet are burning because of the hot concrete or itchy feet from the dirty NY Subway/Bus system. Barefoot in NY is not socially acceptable. Sexy Flip-flops/sandals always socially acceptable as long as the weather in NY stays above 45 degrees.


June 23rd, 2011
11:39 am

I have on flip flops right now….I wear them to work. I wear them everywhere. I have about 10 pair.

Ryan S

June 23rd, 2011
1:23 pm

Going barefoot is definitely good old-fashioned summer fun, & one of life’s most delightful & underrated simple pleasures.

As a child I also spent entire summers barefoot. Shoes doffed as soon as the last day of school let out, & except for going to church or a relatively few other places where Mom would tell me I needed to have shoes on, my feet were happily bare until school started again.

Going barefoot is a pleasure that I still enjoy as much as possible, & I’m in good company too!

Earl J.

June 23rd, 2011
9:27 pm

Never worn flip flops in my life! That rubber thong between my toes would drive me nuts! (Sidenote… didn’t flip flops used to be called “thongs” before that term became attached to underwear?)

Athlete’s foot to a barefooter is a non-issue. The Athlete’s Foot fungus thrives inside shoes, where it is dark and warm and moist and stinky…. YUCK! Regular barefooters do not get Athlete’s Foot! And also, bare feet do not smell… unless they have been inside shoes for hours!


June 27th, 2011
4:20 pm

I spent most of my childhood either barefoot or in flip flops and like another commenter (Becky, I think?) said, once I’m off work, the shoes are off!

I go outside barefoot often … even after I once got my foot cut badly on a broken glass bottle, I STILL go barefoot. I will usually wear flip-flops to the pool, though. The cement area around the pool is just too hot for bare feet. I NEVER liked trying to walk across asphalt in the summer.

five finger vibram

June 28th, 2011
12:42 am

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