When The Shoe Fits, Wear It: But Not In My House

By Hanna Inoue on December 4, 2012

Recently, I had to conduct an experiment where I broke a cultural rule. This rule that I broke was the shoes-off rule that my mother has at home. Being Japanese, we always take our shoes off when we come home. I’d never thought much about it, but after this experiment, it is interesting to note the kind of people who take their shoes off, and the kind of people who don’t.

In American society, I’ve noticed that people generally don’t take their shoes off when they get home. While some of my friends do, others I’ve met do not.

It doesn’t make sense to me. What’s so great about tracking mud, water, and germs through the house? Wouldn’t you rather have a nice clean carpet that you can lie on rather than a dirty mucky one that you’re afraid of walking barefoot on?

Curious about this whole ordeal, I Google searched ‘taking shoes off at home’. One of the results was this article posted on the UK Dailymail website.

From the start, I thought that this article was weird and kind of ostentatious. Mary Gold starts off talking about her dancer friend Caroline who lost her chance at a second date because of her feet. As Laura of Ipswich, UK said in the comments, “I’m sorry, but “love’s young dream” were not split up by the removal of shoes, but the shallow ignorance of the man!” I think that Laura is absolutely right. The issue with Caroline was not her feet, but the man’s incapability to appreciate her for her personality.

But aside from that, Mary Gold appears to be far more worried about her and her guests’ self-consciousness rather than cultural respect. In places like Japan and Canada, people take their shoes off when they return home because it is sanitary. Whether you think you’re going to look fat without your heels on or not, you are going to have to take your shoes off if you want the respect of those whose house you are entering.

Etiquette is what matters most in this situation. Offer to take your shoes off before entering someone’s house. If they tell you you don’t have to bother with it, then don’t. Otherwise, leave off your shoes, whatever the make or style, because if you don’t, you are being rude– and nobody likes a rude person.

The way Ms. Gold talks in her article suggests that all men and women are concerned about every little flaw that they may have– which is not generally the case. In fact, I think taking off four-inch stilettos may be a relief in many cases. Who wants to stand around with their feet in uncomfortable positions for three hours?

This page on Greenster also shows that being barefoot is actually better for you than wearing shoes all the time. I can attest that being barefoot makes me feel far more comfortable than wearing shoes. When I walk or run on the beach, I never wear shoes. Let your feet breathe!

So Ms. Gold, I’ll just say that A) you should probably stop being so self-conscious, because no man you want to be with is going to care about what your feet look like, and B) etiquette and respect come first; that’s the bottom line.

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