I’ve been trying to fight this trend for years now, but the masses have spoken. In a battle that would rival BetaMax v. VHS, the term “barefoot shoes” has won out over “minimalist shoes.” I concede.
Yeah, I know “barefoot shoes” is an oxymoron. Yes, I know not all “barefoot shoes” give an experience that is remotely like being barefoot. Yes, I know many of my purist friends will scoff my tossing of the towel.
The only people that use the term “minimalist shoes” are my ten barefoot friends. The rest of the world calls them “barefoot shoes.”
So be it. I’m sick of swimming against this particular stream. You have won, popular culture, you have won.
What I used to call “minimalist shoes” will be referred to as “barefoot shoes.” What I used to call “reduced” shoes will now be called “transition shoes.”
Who’s with me?
[edit- in case you don’t read the comments, check out Pete Larson’s excellent post about this topic here. I agree with his analysis- we really need to begin looking at shoes with a spectrum instead of defined categories.]
[edit #2- After reading some comments and Facebook discussions, I should add a little more explanation. Over the last few years, we (the barefoot community) have been adamant about rejecting the term. Why? I suspect it has nothing to do with it being an oxymoron or a concern it will prevent people from learning good form.
I think we’ve rejected the idea because of pride. For those of us that have run barefoot, we take pride in our accomplishments. For most, going through the process of going from traditional shoes to running barefoot is a difficult process. Running a race barefoot is even more of an accomplishment. When someone runs a race in Vibrams, then brags about running the race barefoot, we’re pissed. It diminishes our accomplishments. I suspect the emotions behind this is the primary reason this is such a big issue. I get that.
However, I think there’s a greater good to consider. By repeatedly and actively rejecting the term “barefoot shoes”, we’re building a wall between those of us that have the potential to help others due to our experiences and those that NEED our expertise. If we accept the term and swallow our pride, we open up a whole lot of potential to truly educate people. THAT should be our goal.
When I was a teacher, my school was adamant about banning student cell phone use. Despite the ban, almost every student had a phone and used them regularly. The school’s response- develop more elaborate ways to enforce the ban. A ever-increasing amount of instructional time was spent enforcing the policy with absolutely no effect on behavior. Those that supported the idea stood by their guns- they repeatedly called for tougher rules and more enforcement. This became a weird sort of moral crusade- they believed kids shouldn’t have cell phones and were going to prove themselves right no matter the cost.
I made several logical proposals all based on a simple idea- how about we accept what is inevitable and find a way to use it to our advantage? Kids will have cell phones. No policy is going to change that. No matter how much we don’t like it, it’s going to happen.
The same thing is happening with the term “barefoot shoes.” If anyone thinks we’re somehow going to change the industry’s use of the term from “barefoot shoes’ to “minimalist shoes”, they’re either naive or stupid. It’s not going to happen. We have two choices- change our moral compass and find a way to use it to our advantage, or stand on our soap box and continue preaching to an ever-shrinking audience that are turned off by our seemingly crazy rants. I’ve made my choice.]