This Needs to Stop: Vibram Five Fingers

21 Jul

I have spent the past seven years mocking Crocs and the people who wear them mercilessly. But I must confess: I still remember the very day I almost bought a pair for myself in a moment of confusion.

It was the summer of 2004 and I was living in PEI. I had been seeing these colourful shoes all over the place and had heard people raving about how comfortable they were, how they are hypoallergenic, how easy they are to slide on and off. My feeble, easily influenced mind decided that owning Crocs was a good idea. One day, while out browsing in some of the shops along the Charlottetown waterfront, I found a store that sold Crocs and chose a bright pink pair from the display.

I was in line to purchase those Crocs when I looked at them. I mean really looked.

And a little voice inside my head screamed at me. “For the love of Jesus, you’re about to spend 30-some dollars on PINK RUBBER CLOGS. Put them back on the rack and go get a box of wine instead.” And I did. (It was Hochtaler, for the record. And I mixed it with medications and I shouldn’t have done that and later that night I tried to beat up a girl for liking the Montreal Canadiens.)

Maybe I should have just bought the Crocs.

ANYWAY! Fast forward seven years and all sorts of good things are happened. My mental stability has been restored, for one. Crocs are mostly a thing of the past, which is also a blessing. However, there’s a new kid on the block that is causing me some grief.

Vibram Five Fingers are beginning to crop up in local gyms and on running trails. Apparently, the five fingers design allows feet to move more naturally and freely. I say it assists people who make it a point to go out in public looking as stupid as possible to achieve their goals of looking hideous. If you were out to win a gold medal in Fugliness, they’d be perfect. Otherwise, NO.

I don’t even know what to say about these things other than they’re ugly, they shouldn’t be worn in public, and if I see you wearing Vibram Five Fingers at the gym I am going to walk over and drop the heaviest dumbbell I can lift on your ugly sock-shoes. That’ll teach you to choose hideous footwear. Whatever disdain I used to harbour for Crocs and those who wear them has been shifted – and amplified – for VFF. Just say no.

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26 Responses to “This Needs to Stop: Vibram Five Fingers”

  1. L-A July 21, 2011 at 1:20 pm #

    I agree on these shoes. I find them ugly and slightly creepy. I don’t really want to look at shoes with toes. But strangers on the interwebs think I’m a Luddite for saying so: http://twitter.com/#!/TheFitness_Guru/status/94059482983825409

    • Amy July 21, 2011 at 3:32 pm #

      Toes freak me out – not a fan of toe socks either!

      • Robert June 1, 2012 at 11:48 pm #

        Minimalist running is one thing, wearing Five Fingers is another, there are many alternatives on minimalist running shoes that are not this pretentiously gross, but the tipical user of Five Fingers is not an informed one and does’nt know how to use Google to search “minimalist shoes”.

  2. Steve Dinn July 21, 2011 at 2:43 pm #

    I’d go barefoot all the time if it weren’t for the fact that shops and restaurants could deny me service. Enter Vibram FiveFingers. Problem solved.

    I’ll reference a tweet of mine from just yesterday that cites a great article on why going barefoot (or pseudo-barefoot, in VFFs) is what you should be doing too.

    • Amy July 21, 2011 at 3:32 pm #

      Some people swear by them. I’ve been running off and on since high school and consistently for the past three years and the only time I’ve ever had a running-related injury was from running barefoot…it just doesn’t work for me. And even if it did…I would still think the shoes are ugly 🙂

  3. Sherry July 21, 2011 at 4:43 pm #

    I have been a proud owner of these shoes for a couple of years now however I agree that they are ugly. I also agree that feet are generally gross and toe socks are horrendous.

    However I think you are failing to acknowledge that most people do not buy Vibram Five Fingers for their aesthetic – they buy them for their benefits.

    The human body is not designed for half of the footwear that is marketed to us on a daily basis such as stilettos, Shape-ups, or even sneakers. Yet I own multiple pairs of stilettos and sneakers. Kim Kardashian can have her Shape-ups.

    Vibram Five Fingers force you to use your feet and specifically toe muscles in ways that most of us haven’t since we were kids. The control and flexibility that you experience is amazing and unparalleled (except for actually being barefoot, which would be gross in public)

    It is interesting to note that they come with a warning to only wear them for a limited amount of time when first purchased because your feet and legs have to adjust and build strength.

    I love wearing mine to the gym and for hiking but unlike some gym-goers with their $100 sweatpants and full makeup I am not trying to impress anyone with my attire.

    So in conclusion, while not required for working out or running they certainly do offer benefits that cannot be achieved with sneakers.

    • Amy July 21, 2011 at 4:58 pm #

      They may have awesome benefits. But they’re still ugly 😛

    • John April 8, 2013 at 1:50 pm #

      Very well said! Period.

  4. Ryan July 22, 2011 at 1:43 pm #

    Function over fashion. You’re critique of these based on appearance does nothing but publicly makes you come off as shallow.

    • Ev Mlodik December 7, 2011 at 9:57 am #

      Oh, please! Everyone who I’ve met who have worn this are pretentious poseur douche bags who wear that crap simply to enhance their pathological attention whoring. These “shoes” have no proven benefits and come as another pathetic trend that will die out faster than the Macarena.

      • Brianna April 22, 2012 at 4:40 am #

        Ive had chronic pain diseases for years. Psoriatic arthritis and fibromyalgia. I’ve tried countless medications and NOTHING has brought the kind of pain relief that these shoes do. I’m sorry that you’re shallow and ignorant…. But there are countless benefits associated with these shoes. I love them 🙂

    • John April 8, 2013 at 1:52 pm #

      Perfectly stated.. It’s that simple. These things are bloody amazing, the whole comment thread by the original poster (with respect), has no basis whatsoever, it’s just someone who doesn’t like them, and their look. No depth whatsoever. From an un-biased point of view.. I think these things are the only show I have seen released in decades that actually make sense!

      If these people are so hung up on just aesthetics (I think they look awesome), then they should go buy a $300 pair of dress shoes, and wear those to the gym.

      I hope these things are around forever..literally.

  5. Iain K. MacLeod July 22, 2011 at 3:41 pm #

    Not since the great Mitten versus Glove debate of the first century, have I read such hatred towards a single garment of clothing (and don’t get me started on the “Glitten”). I understand the inherent mockery factor of both the Croc and the Vibram Five Finger shoe, but I would never put them in the same category. Yes, people can find both the PT Cruiser and an F1 Racer ugly, but the reason people stuff themselves into each vehicle are dramatically different.

    I have used both and admit to still being very self-conscious about it. I wish I didn’t care what other people thought, but I still do from time to time. I want to understand the motivations of people to become a better, more well-rounded person. Not to deride and push away my fellow man.

    My Crocs don’t leave our house and are essentially slippers. Mine are modified (I even ripped off the strappy bit) and do find them comfortable for many household activities. Occasionally, one has to take out the trash or clean-up debris from the backyard, but I usually choose to do this in the cover of night.

    I understand that aesthetics do matter. In fact I have a beautiful family, buy Apple products and sometimes even shave. But, as a society, I don’t think it should guide all our decisions. Especially ones that deal with something as important as footwear. The fact that women have fallen for one of the biggest cons of all time, the high-heeled shoe, is well beyond my understanding.

    Personally, even after considering all the science and deep historical evidence of the benefits of barefoot running, I picked up a pair of Men’s KomodoSport shoes to solve a couple of problems:
    (a) My shoes were getting old, I started doing kettlebell and I was not going to go barefoot on the Halifax common
    (b) the dude on the website was using a kettlebell (which some people might find a silly exercise in itself, but it gets my sedentary arse out from behind a computer, so there’s that).
    (c) I had recently watched this Ted talk http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3XTHevPXDY

    I’m not ready to stop into the grocery store on the way home, but I have found more benefits to using them than not. The lightness, ease of movement and my groundedness amaze me. With regular cross-trainers, I used to leave crop-circle sized marks in the grass. Now there are only pseudo-footprints, like some sort of urban Sasquatch. I’m not saying I’m some sort of hero for taking it on the heel by wearing this challenging shoes (that would be Steve Dinn), but I can tell you one thing: I never met a hero who got to where they are by discouraging our obese citizens to from the physical and mental benefits from modern fitness techniques.

    I understand some people would be disturbed by the look of these, much like when people first laid eyes on Joseph Merrick in public, but I think all the fashion-conscious, naturally beautiful people are going to have to suck it up a little in the gyms and on running trails during this very difficult transition. There are far more disturbing things (spandex, body oder and hammer pants come to mind) to worry about than seeing the delicate outline of people’s toes. Not to bring Intelligent Design into this, but what deep-seated psychological unrest has brought you to find error with the feet? A few random Internet searches will clearly lead you to other sad, lonely people who have found ways to cherish the human foot.

  6. Nathan February 23, 2012 at 5:32 pm #

    Dont pretend you go to the gym, the only machine you would be interested in there is the one with sweets in it. There are endless accounts published both online and in hardcopy about the benefits of minimilist running, try reading them before you put up ridiculous postings like this, or just try running, another thing you probably talk about but don’t do.

  7. bill March 30, 2012 at 2:51 am #

    Fivefingers are great…. I have three pairs.

    • lexy May 25, 2012 at 12:10 pm #

      Me too! I wear mine every single day! hiking running and to work (bartending). I swear by mine! I run marathons and the last one I ran I had a much shorter recovery time I swear it’s because i started wearing vibrams.

    • Robert June 1, 2012 at 11:41 pm #

      There are better alternatives on minimalist shoes, Five Fingers just have more publicity.

  8. Tommo April 20, 2012 at 3:54 pm #

    So because you personally find them ugly people should’t wear them? Are you also upset when you see people with faces you find unattractive? Should they wear masks so you don’t have to see something you don’t like?

    You are an idiot. I’m going to wear my fivefingers more just to spite you.

  9. Paul June 21, 2012 at 4:37 pm #

    I am a FULL TIME Vibram wearer. They start conversations ever where I go that range from the mocking and incredulous, to openly considering or secretly curious.

    Fashion is CLEARLY not the reason I wear them. Understanding that this is as close as possible (in lieu of going unsafely barefoot) to letting the human body do its thing while walking or running is the only understanding necessary to use them.

    There is a physical adjustment period so be prepared for that. Recognizing that modern shoes/soles are mechanically wrong for the human gait is not some weirdo concept, its proven fact. This is NOT a fad, but actually a rethinking of conventionally accepted practices that is long overdue and welcomed by a lot of people for a slew of reasons, with more and more people coming on board every day.

    • Ana October 7, 2012 at 10:02 pm #

      How often have you had to change them/ buy new ones? If you wear them every day, do they wear out easily? Thanks!

  10. NINO July 10, 2012 at 7:41 pm #

    D O U C H E B A G S

  11. Jamil October 3, 2012 at 12:29 pm #

    You are actually comparing Crocs to VFFs??? I fully agree that Crocs are one of the ugliest things you can put on your feet, but at least they don’t cause as many chronic injuries as Uggs do. Anyone who knows anything about biomechanics, or generally the human body, knows that wearing shoes is not a good thing. I would not have had to treat the hundreds of people I have over the last few years, otherwise. Wearing shoes causes reduced movement in your ankle as well as your stabiliser muscles weakening (to the point of switching off) as well as a lack of proprioception in your feet. The problem is that it is not acceptable to be barefoot in public. I have been wearing VFFs for over 6 years now, and unless I am in the office or somewhere else I need to wear a suit, you will not ever see me wearing shoes. From a fashion point of view, all I can say is, each to their own. You either like them, or you don’t. You obviously prefer form over function, as most ignorant people do.

  12. clay October 22, 2012 at 1:15 pm #

    Before VFF shoes, I was constantly having problems with my knees from running….now I run pain free. So you’re saying that if I want to fit in and be cool, I should return to the running shoes that caused me pain? You’re an idiot.

    • John April 8, 2013 at 1:53 pm #

      Love this comment +10 🙂

  13. Michael O'Malley April 25, 2013 at 7:48 pm #

    I couldn’t agree with you more! Tiva sandals belong in this category as well. Problem is the same people went from Tiva’s to Crocs to these stupid 5 finger toe shoes!

  14. Cassiopeia (@DeadGirlWaking) May 25, 2013 at 6:16 pm #

    OMG, to all you haters . . . please educate yourselves. Have you ever heard of the Tarahumara? I do feel the five finger shoes look odd, but after hearing of the Tarahumara so called “amazing and superhuman abilities”, I understand the principle behind this. And quite frankly, it does make sense. After ruining my feet for the sake of fashion and “looking good”, I have done my research and can’t believe how stupid I was in order to comply with what society accepts.

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