Hey there, time traveller! This article was published 30/12/2010 (2542 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
EDMONTON — While some women are obsessed with shoes, Sierra Larson is obsessed with avoiding them.
The 20-year-old woman is barefoot virtually all the time — even outside, in Edmonton, in winter.
Larson can't stand shoes or socks and only wears them for work as a line cook, but only because health regulations require it.
When she drives to work, crosses the parking lot and strolls through the West Edmonton Mall to her job at Earl's, she goes barefoot.
When she pumps gas, buys groceries, shops at the mall or eats in a restaurant, she goes barefoot. This summer, she rode in a church rodeo barefoot and went camping for five days without taking any shoes along. And the other day, she pushed her boyfriend's car out of the snow, again, without shoes.
"They're just uncomfortable. I feel trapped when I'm wearing them. When I'm barefoot, I can feel what I'm standing on, I'm connected to my surroundings. But when I'm wearing shoes I feel cut off," Larson says. "And socks are just prison for feet. I hate socks even more than I hate shoes."
While she's gone barefoot much of her life, it was in June that she completely eschewed footwear outside of work.
She had uploaded photos of herself with some of her artwork on an art website, prompting someone to ask if she was a barefooter.
"I said, 'I don't know, what's a barefooter?'" Larson recalls.
Only then did she hear about a small group of people who choose to go barefoot all the time, sharing their stories on websites, such as barefooters.org and barefootcanada.org.
"I thought, 'I guess this is not as socially unacceptable as I thought it was, and I already hate shoes, so I might as well just stop wearing them.' "
Throughout the summer, when she was living with her grandparents on their southern Alberta farm, she'd go for barefoot runs on gravel roads.
She also chased a wayward cow through the bush barefoot — though she did cut the top of her foot on branches and still has the scar to show for it. Generally though, she's remained remarkably injury-free despite her lack of shoes. She did get some frostbite on her feet recently while winter camping.
She admits keeping her feet clean isn't easy. "I've stoppped trying. I've got perma-dirt on my feet."
At almost six feet tall with red hair, Larson is difficult to miss at the best of times. Walking barefoot, she attracts even more attention, from those with foot fetishes to good Samaritans. "I get varied reactions from 'That's so hot', to 'Oh my god, are you insane?' "