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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Why shoes? Why anything?

    It was a warm Sunday evening in late April. I got up from my chair, unable to contain my excitement.

    I told my roommates the news, made a phone call and sent off a few e-mails. I had just read an article that left me feeling possibly more vindicated than I have in my life.

    The article, “”You Walk Wrong”” by Adam Stenbergh in New York Magazine, presented scientific evidence demonstrating that shoes are bad for our feet. And it makes sense. As a scientist quoted in the article said, our feet have evolved over the past four million years precisely to be walked on. They have a couple hundred thousand nerve endings that are there to tell you where and how to walk. Shoes mess with that, changing your gait and how much pressure you put down with each step. Got knee problems? Back problems? Blame your shoes. We in the West have the most such problems of anyone in the world. Coincidentally enough, we wear shoes the most, too. Stenbergh likens the development and use of shoes to a war with our feet, and I am inclined to agree.

    For years, I have fought my own war with shoes. When I was a little kid, my best friend’s mom would scold me for walking around the corner to their house barefoot. If she or my mom tried to put shoes, or much less suffocating socks on me, I would take them off. Even my flip-flops get flicked off whenever I get to my destination, and I still go barefoot whenever possible. Shoes have simply never felt right. My friends and family have mocked me for years about this quirk, so imagine my satisfaction to find out that I was right all along.

    Other perceptive souls have wised up to this war and launched a counteroffensive. A plethora of clubs and outspoken individuals have sprung up advocating everything from barefoot running to barefoot hiking. They seem to be prospering, but moreso in places like Seattle and Washington. Sure, sure – here in Tucson, where you can cook an egg on the sidewalk, belief in shoes might be grounded. All the same, it leads one to wonder what other supposedly helpful or necessary things we may use that don’t actually help us.

    Forks and knives are some of the most awkward tools around. We certainly didn’t evolve hands, and especially fingers, for the purposes of using a fork and knife. Think for a moment of your caveman ancestors, Ugg and Grog, standing over you as you dig into a steak. Instead of picking it up, they see you daintily prodding it, cutting it into nice little cubes. Imagine their reaction: confusion, disappointment. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

    In this climate, neither do clothes. Sure, when it gets cold, you should grab a sweater (and maybe some of Ugg’s boots), but what about the sweltering heat of May, as we transition into summer? It’s forecast to hit 90 degrees by tomorrow, and in a few weeks it’ll be right up to 110 for those of us sticking around (which, along with everything else, doesn’t make a whole lot of sense). Inevitably, the round of complaints will start again about how hot it is outside. It’s not news to anyone that clothes don’t make us any cooler, but here’s a thought: Why wear them at all? Especially when we start wearing as little in the way of clothing as we do during summertime, it seems like the logical thing to do would be to take it off. You’re not really fooling anybody as to what’s under there anyway, and clothes block sweat from evaporating and keeping you cool. Perhaps if we were that little bit less Puritan, we could take some honest, unembarrassed pleasure in each other’s sweaty, glistening bodies. Maybe we’d even ask each other on a few more dates.

    Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychology, theorized that not getting enough would be the downfall of our civilization. Such questions then become relevant, even necessary, when that familiar claim about first dates comes around. After all, if we gave up the many things in our lives that simply don’t make sense, we wouldn’t have to worry about which fork to use.

    Matt Styer is an interdisciplinary studies senior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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