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The problem with "barefoot summer"

Make sure your weekend plans involve shoes: "Barefoot boy summer," as the current fixation with ditching footwear has been dubbed, is canceled.

That's according to a handful of podiatrists I reached out to after discovering the many, many TikTok videos featuring people trotting shoeless down city streets, airport corridors, and even mountains. “I cringed,” Dr. Priya Parthasarathy, a podiatrist in Maryland, told me. "You’re pretty much asking for trouble, and I 100% do not recommend it for a lot of different reasons.”

Here's a look at just a few of them:

  • You could step on something sharp. One podiatrist told me she's removed splinters, shards of glass, sewing needles, pieces of shells from the beach, and even long, sharp chihuahua hair from her patients' feet. She worries about hypodermic needles in cities, stinging pests in the grass, and rocks and sticks on trails—which is all the convincing I needed to slide my Crocs back on.
  • There are lots of invisible germs outside. Bacteria, fungi, and viruses all lurk beneath your feet. Going barefoot—especially in damp areas like locker rooms or around the pool—makes you susceptible to unpleasantries like athlete's foot and plantar warts.
  • Going barefoot heightens the risk of injury. Every year, people run over their feet while mowing the lawn barefoot. Others simply fall down, because shoes provide important traction and protection from slippery areas. If you're determined to ditch your sneakers, heed one expert's advice and keep your podiatrist on speed dial.


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"Memory allows us to be familiar, but forgetting gives us a sense of freshness. It provides us with some newness when we listen to a song that we’ve already played 20 times."

—Robert Kraft, professor of cognitive psychology at Otterbein University

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Today's newsletter was written by Angela Haupt and edited by Mandy Oaklander.