Sunday, November 04, 2007
Flip flops face ban in US schools
Flip-flops are a banned by some schools in the US because they are thought to cause accidents. One of the oldest forms of footwear are being marginalised by the foot police which has only ensured sandals have become a right of passage for coming of age teenagers. Many schools have taken the unprecedented step (excuse the dreadful pun), of banning the trendy flip-flops, citing concerns of safety, decorum and health. People who own public spaces can exercise a dress code as a condition of entry and that includes what you wear on your feet. In terms of duty of care anyone responsible for the safety of others can err on caution which includes a shoe code based on health and safety. However to make the case it would be appropriate to have evidence to support the measure and there is little of that around when you take into account the longevity of sandal wearing humans. More interestingly are the aspects of decorum and health. The idea sandals lack proper etiquette seems to reflect a misogynistic approach to women and the idea a glimpse of the naked foot is vulgar, quite nonsensical. In the land of the free the idea you are unable to wear flip flops to the White House because they are considered inappropriate dress to be in the presence of the most powerful MAN in the world, seems ridiculous and very out of step (oops another terrible pun) with democracy. Thongs have their uses and are recommended to those troubled with perspiration, something adolescents are prone to. Open access to the circulation of air can be more beneficial than encasing the sweaty foot in a study oxford. To the best of my knowledge there is no evidence to support wearing flip flops has had any adverse influence on the structure and function of feet in 10000 years. One alarmist reactionary defence of the sandal ban includes the safety factor in the case of an emergency. A sad fact is schools are prone to, fires, bomb scares and worse and administrators are concerned about trips, falls, sprained ankles and stomped toes that results from students rushing out the building. Taking other wider experiences such as September 11, many of the women escaping falling masonry etc, removed their shoes to run faster. The ban has probably more to do with reducing insurance premiums and public liability then anything fundamentally wrong with wearing sandals. But what do podiatrists say, are they not always warning against inappropriate footwear? Well podiatrists see people with sore feet and this represents approximate one third of the population at any age and any stage. A significant percentage of clients in need of podiatric care may find fashion sandals incompatible with their presenting symptoms but where is the logic in using this small representation of the human population to extrapolate to the whole. In the end, as with all sumptuary law, no matter how spurious the reasoning, it becomes impossible to enforce.