Flickr photo by configmanagerShoe fetishists start young. My daughter is obsessed with her red Chuck Taylor high-tops, her flowery rain boots, her gold gladiators, her shiny pink sandals. At two, she's already got more shoes than I had my entire childhood. She's got it good.
Lots of toddlers don't have any shoes. Not one pair.
I've been in cities and towns in countries all over the world where kids run barefoot all day long on filthy streets and dirt roads. In Cambodia, I met two little girls who were sharing one pair of flip-flops. When I asked to take their picture, one girl hurriedly slipped her flip-flop off so the other would be photographed in a full pair of shoes. Once the camera was away, the girls went back to sharing. One too-big, dingy flip-flop is better than none.
Going without shoes in developing countries isn't just humiliating, it's dangerous. It puts these kids at risk for soil-transmitted diseases, cuts, painful sores, and dangerous infections. In some places, shoes are part of the mandatory school uniform. No shoes, no school. No school, no education. No education, no chance for a better life.
This Thursday, April 8, TOMS Shoes is holding its annual One Day Without Shoes holiday, on which they ask people to forgo shoes for the day, a few hours, or even just a few minutes "to help spread awareness about the impact a simple pair of shoes can bring to a child's life."
If you've never heard of TOMS shoes, it's a company that was founded on one premise: to put shoes on the feet of kids who need them. Whenever you buy a pair of shoes from TOMS, the company donates a pair of new shoes to a child in need.
So on April 8 (and likely every other day from now on), when my daughter is deciding which pair of fabulous shoes she feels like wearing, I'll indulge her as I always do. But I'll be thinking of the kids around the world who have no shoes to wear. I'll be thinking of two young girls in Cambodia who shared a pair of flip-flops.
As for my own feet, they'll be naked as a jaybird.
For more info, check out OneDayWithoutShoes.com.
Will you go barefoot on April 8?