In defense of sandals: Going toe to toe with the opposition

Maisy Clunies-Ross, Opinions Editor

For generations, sandals were a part of people’s lives. The Mesopotamians wore sandals as they built the first recorded civilization. The ancient Egyptians wore sandals as they built the pyramids. The ancient Greeks wore their sandals both into battle and while forming the basis of Western philosophy. Sandals have been a part of human history just as long as love and war. The path to greatness was carved by people with visible toes. They’re a part of our history and a part of who we are. And yet, in recent years, that attitude has changed. Now, when one dawns a sandal they face the possibility of ridicule. Supposedly accepting and evolved people jeer and screech at the sight of a meer toe. But why? 

To me, there appear two possible culprits: foot freaks and nasty toes. The prevalence of foot fetishists on the internet have led many to view feet as a taboo, something that is desired but shameful. In that light, feet are a thing to be hidden, thus making the revealing of one’s toes akin to the flaunting of buttocks. The monetary gain associated with photographs of feet have also led another sentiment to arise: ‘I’m not showing that for free.’ In combination, these mindsets have led to the objectification and subsequent demonization of feet, which discourages people from showing their feet in any way, including in sandals.

The next reason I believe toes have become so stigmatized is simpler. Many of the people most comfortable sharing their feet are also those who are comfortable going weeks without showering or cutting their nails. We’ve all seen the old men with long gnarled nails, yellowing and hard like pieces of corn sticking out between the straps. Other people’s feet are riddled with blisters and warts, with red bulges and misshapen toes. Some people … most people … their feet are just dirty. I’m not trying to body shame, I think it’s wrong to make fun of people for things they can’t control. However, unlike toe length or foot size, your hygiene is something you most certainly can control. 

It makes sense that no one wants to see crusty, gnarled, dirt covered, toes. Some people’s feet border on public indecency. However, while toes are often the most derided for their unseemly state, they are not the only culprit. I’ve seen just as many people who have disgustingly long fingernails with visible grime caked beneath them. That’s just as disgusting, if not more, than seeing someone with unkempt toes, because you will probably not be shaking hands with someone’s feet! I believe the rules of polite society should be upheld, but if one’s toes are clean and well kept, they have just as much of a right to be out in the open as a finger. 

Whether or not one wears sandals is up to them and I do not seek to force my lifestyle upon others. I am merely advocating for the acceptance of sandals and peep toe heels, for those who wear them to feel safe, for the restless souls who need to wiggle their toes not to be ostracized from their community. All I want is for people to be able to get ready for a school dance without worrying that the tips of their toes peeking out from their heels will be the talk of the night. All I want is for those who once felt afraid to show their true selves in public to dawn their sandals and feel the joy of a warm summer breeze against their bare toes once more. All I want is for a sandal to be a simple fashion choice instead of a mark of difference or a declaration of war.

Now, I must harken back to my first point: the longevity and historical significance of the sandal. History is cyclical, there have been times of progressive growth followed by times of puritanical stagnance and vice versa. There were times when the flash of an ankle could have a woman scorned or set a crowd into a frenzy, yet they are now an unexamined aspect of our everyday lives. I believe the toe will follow a trajectory similar to that of the ankle: accepted to scandalized to supported once more. And so, I conclude. The era of sandals is upon us once more.  

It is with that, I finally pronounce the answer to the universal question: Who let the dogs out? Who? Who? The answer is you. The answer is your friends. The answer is all of us.