I didn't state this in my original post but I grew up barefoot...
So much so that I had to pretty much be bribed to wear shoes when I went to Kindergarten...
There were also issues with me keeping my shirts on.
I got my bottom spanked fiercely once for taking my shirt off along with the boys on the playground on a hot day in first grade.
I really didn't understand the issue.
My mother was so sad, she came and picked me up from school and hugged me, and was furious with the teachers.
I was raised in the woods by hippie farmer mom... pretty much naked was fine.
Mostly I just wore shorts only at home when I was little and looked mostly like a boy from the belly button up.
(Around 3rd to 4th grade I naturally started wearing shirts all the time on my own.)
She used to take me skinny dipping as well... a bit of an alternative upbringing.
I take my shoes off once I get inside and I ask others to kindly do the same. It keeps the floors much cleaner and just seems like the polite thing to do. Why would you need to wear shoes inside, especially when it has been raining, snowing, etc? My feet are always cold though so I usually wear socks around the house. Unfortunately living in a populated urban area makes it hard to go barefoot outside.
I've been a full-time barefooter and member of the SBL for 6+ years now. I recently started wearing minimal shoes when running hard core trails, but other than that and outside my temperature threshold, I'm barefoot. I've found that my feet help regulate the rest of my body temperature, and it's rare that I am too cold or too hot. I rarely get bothered about by barefootedness by stores or businesses, and I've come to realize that 1- if you act with confidence, most people don't care. And 2- most businesses just don't want to be liable if you hurt yourself. I come straight out and say in a non-confrontational manner, "Hey, I've been barefoot for 6 years, I don't have shoes, and I promise I'm not going to sue anyone if I hurt myself." Usually they shrug, smile and let me go on my way. I do carry around a letter from the local department of health in my wallet, just in case. The Society for Barefoot living has many states letters available for print on their website. The occasional gas station with have a posted sign and I'll slip on some flips or xero-shoes I keep in my car, but if it isn't posted, I'm usually good to go.
In my part of the world, it's the norm to take your shoes off when entering someone's home, and some businesses such as dental offices also make that request. Many people in my circle of friends even make clean slippers available in a basket near the door for people whose feet might get cold. I've always gone barefoot or sockfoot in the house, or sometimes in soft slippers if it's quite cold. I also walk around on grass or similar surfaces barefoot pretty regularly.
This summer I started barefooting elsewhere out on our walks, although it depends on how hot the pavement is and whether there's grass to walk on as an alternative if the path gets really rough. It's really not a big deal to most people here--we don't have a "hillbilly" stigma about people not wearing shoes. I still wear shoes into businesses, though. I haven't even thought of going into somewhere like the grocery store without some thin sandals or VFFs or something like that.
I'm always barefoot the minute I step into my apartment. My roommates are the same way, so there's no weirdness there. I live in south FL, and the apartment is kept at about 77... there's no way anything is staying on my feet.
I wear flats to work/public, and I have my Merrels for the gym.
as a kid, I was barefoot everywhere, including outside on the lava rock gravel paths at my parents' house, asphalt, etc... asphalt does tend to get too hot though, that's one reason I'll don shoes ;)
I remember a few incidents re:shoes...
I was doing a summer jazz program at a University near where I grew up - I walked around barefoot for a few days, a few people told me I was going to get ringworm or that it was weird. I kept my Birkenstocks around so I could put them on... nobody cared enough for it to get to that point (but then again, it's SF area jazz people... buncha hippies, I tell you what!)
I walked around my college dorm without shoes a lot - more of an unconscious thing... it got me in trouble once when I was an RA... I was a lot more conscious about it after that.
I currently live in New York City and don't have any want to walk around truly barefoot outside my apartment/job because of: a. the ick factor... most anything I'd step in is more "gross" than an actual health hazard (unless I have open cuts on my feet), and b. I hate having to talk to random people about my feet (I get enough random questions about VFFs)
we do "indoor shoes" - flip flops - in our apartment... there's too much cat hair, litter, dust, etc that we don't want to track onto beds, couches, etc. (yes, we DO sweep/mop, I swear, and guests are asked to take off their shoes).
My boss and I are both barefoot a lot, as are some of the people we share an office with - most attorneys seem have that leeway! I do have a pair of "office slippers" that I wear when clients are around or when I want to go to the bathroom... my boss will go into the bathroom barefoot... there's that ick factor (for me) again...
I'm actually amazed at how many people in the world (or maybe just the US?) are plain skeeved out by feet. I always take my shoes off on an airplane... I've read on forums that a LOT of people frown upon this... I've had strange reactions to lack of shoes/socks in a lot of places too... it's just strange!
I get skeeved out by SHOES on beds, couches, subway poles, etc... shoes are just gross (especially city shoes, with all those germies + synthetic materials + nooks and crannies!). lol?
barefoot inside, outside. when i go shopping or whatever i wear crocs (shut up, they're comfy) or ballet style slippers or flipflops
i'm in a small town so things are cleanish (but like cori said, barefeet in gas stations bathrooms are a heck no) so i wouldn't have a problem being completely bare foot, i guess i just saw too many 'no shirt no shoes no service' signs as a kid
it is generally associated with poverty, which is why people who hold onto class issues will have strong aversions to barefooting.
I've been a barefoot-as-much-as-possible person my whole life, and I am barefoot all day (in my offices/teaching), and then barefoot in my home. I barefoot a lot in my neighborhood (might as well), but when I'm in town, I wear vibrams. I find that it's just more comfortable for me.
I will also wear my vibrams on hikes where I'm not already familiar with the terrain (ie, hikes around my home are easy, because I knwo the terrain, so I'll barefoot those).
I used to wear shoes nearly all the time, even indoors. Going Primal turned me on to the barefooting thing. Nowadays I wear shoes as infrequently as possible. Flip flops if the ground's too hot, and Sanuks if it's too cold or I am in a setting where barefoot would be socially inappropriate. I avoid dress shoes like the mutilation devices they are.
[QUOTE=Crabbcakes;972040]You drive barefoot, too?? I am going to have to try that! I somehow thought it was illegal or something - seriously![/QUOTE]
It used to be illegal, when cars were first produced- when you drove, the brake pedal would get extremely hot, so If you were not wearing shoes, you wouldn't be able to stop.
I'm usually barefoot in the house, but out and about I go with minimalist shoes.