Author Topic: Why are Americans so concerned about shoes?  (Read 6701 times)

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mom2four

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Why are Americans so concerned about shoes?
« on: March 07, 2014, 03:23:13 AM »
When I first came to the US I was rather confused by all the signs with "no shoes, no shirts, no service". At first I thought it meant that they didn't sell shoes or shirts and had no service.

I have just been there with my son who hates wearing shoes when it is hot and he has been asking for an explanation for why you have to put on shoes almost everywhere. I live in a cold country so going barefoot is not common but there are no rules about it unless a place has an actual dress code - not common here.

I have asked several Americans and they tell me it is for health reasons that you have to wear shoes in places where food is sold. But why? Someones feet are not likely to carry more dirt than someones shoes?

Does anyone know the reason behind it?

Ceallach

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Re: Why are Americans so concerned about shoes?
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2014, 05:40:21 AM »
I'm not sure where you're originally from but this definitely isn't a solely American thing!   

Most health and safety laws where I live require footwear because people are more likely to get injured if they have bare feet, either from stepping on something or having an item dropped on them or even kicking something.   It's a liability for business owners.

In terms of dress code, shoes are considered part of a complete outfit, so places that are trying to maintain a certain standard will require shoes + shirt.  They're basically telling people to get dressed properly to come there, as opposed to a more casual place where swimwear and bare feet might be ok.  It's about setting a certain standard and atmosphere. 
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shhh its me

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Re: Why are Americans so concerned about shoes?
« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2014, 05:49:09 AM »
  I'm not sure why there are so many signs about it but I mostly see the signs at either convenience stores and places near beaches. 

sammycat

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Re: Why are Americans so concerned about shoes?
« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2014, 06:10:27 AM »
I'm not sure where you're originally from but this definitely isn't a solely American thing!   

Most health and safety laws where I live require footwear because people are more likely to get injured if they have bare feet, either from stepping on something or having an item dropped on them or even kicking something.   It's a liability for business owners.

In terms of dress code, shoes are considered part of a complete outfit, so places that are trying to maintain a certain standard will require shoes + shirt.  They're basically telling people to get dressed properly to come there, as opposed to a more casual place where swimwear and bare feet might be ok.  It's about setting a certain standard and atmosphere.

POD! 

I live outside the US and I can't imagine going to a restaurant in bare feet - and I say this as someone who hates wearing shoes and always goes barefoot at home.

OP, is your son a child or an adult?

Yvaine

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Re: Why are Americans so concerned about shoes?
« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2014, 06:54:41 AM »
I was curious and looked it up, and apparently it has its beginnings in establishments that wanted to keep hippies out back in the sixties.

kherbert05

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Re: Why are Americans so concerned about shoes?
« Reply #5 on: March 07, 2014, 06:59:29 AM »
I've only seen those signs near beaches. So I'm wondering if the OP is in a resort area near a beach. I've seen them both here in Texas and in Canada.


Part of it is health code. Part is to avoid nasty law suits because someone in bare feet injured themselves on the property. Part is to avoid people with the bare minimum of swim attire being in the store.


I grew up running barefoot almost year around (anything to avoid those #((@@*#$# corrective shoes) - and the rule was always to put on shoes when going inside a store or even someone's house.  Which is why the shoes on or off inside debate has always struck a funny bone with me. These places will unusually accept flip flops as shoes - so I don't get what the big deal is with putting some on.
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Jones

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Re: Why are Americans so concerned about shoes?
« Reply #6 on: March 07, 2014, 08:13:39 AM »
I figured it had more to do with foot fungus than dirt. But will admit I haven't asked.

Had a nasty bout with fungus as a teen. Still cringe at the sight of flip flops or bare feet outside my home, and wear slippers at all hotels.

Harriet Jones

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Re: Why are Americans so concerned about shoes?
« Reply #7 on: March 07, 2014, 08:22:00 AM »
From googling, it doesn't look like there are health department regulations about customers having to wear shoes.  The "no shirt, no shoes, no service" signs appear to be more of a dress code thing.  However, I would not want to go barefoot in a restaurant or most other public places like that.  You never know what you might step in - something icky or sharp.


jmarvellous

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Re: Why are Americans so concerned about shoes?
« Reply #8 on: March 07, 2014, 08:47:58 AM »
It's about a minimal level of formality, and safety--I've slipped on oil from a broken glass bottle in a grocery store!

I don't think it's an obsession, and they'll certainly let in pre-walking babies without shoes, but it is their prerogative.

lady_disdain

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Re: Why are Americans so concerned about shoes?
« Reply #9 on: March 07, 2014, 09:27:47 AM »
I don't think there is anything unusual in shoes as part of an outfit at a restaurant. However, I did find it odd that so many establishments (both restaurants and shops) have signs stating this. It isn't something I see often in other countries (Europe, Canada and South America).

MayHug

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Re: Why are Americans so concerned about shoes?
« Reply #10 on: March 07, 2014, 09:30:47 AM »
From googling, it doesn't look like there are health department regulations about customers having to wear shoes.  The "no shirt, no shoes, no service" signs appear to be more of a dress code thing.  However, I would not want to go barefoot in a restaurant or most other public places like that.  You never know what you might step in - something icky or sharp.

I would think this would be difficult to google. Where I live, every county has their own health dept and regulations. So while it may not be a regulation in my county it may be in the next county over.

I do have to say the "why are Americans (or any other country) so concerned "threads bug me! America is vast, we're a melting pot, you cannot use a large brush to paint everyone the same.

jaxsue

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Re: Why are Americans so concerned about shoes?
« Reply #11 on: March 07, 2014, 09:44:27 AM »
From googling, it doesn't look like there are health department regulations about customers having to wear shoes.  The "no shirt, no shoes, no service" signs appear to be more of a dress code thing.  However, I would not want to go barefoot in a restaurant or most other public places like that.  You never know what you might step in - something icky or sharp.

I would think this would be difficult to google. Where I live, every county has their own health dept and regulations. So while it may not be a regulation in my county it may be in the next county over.

I do have to say the "why are Americans (or any other country) so concerned "threads bug me! America is vast, we're a melting pot, you cannot use a large brush to paint everyone the same.

ITA. We're a vast country, with literally hundreds of sub-cultures. The brush would have to be very, very wide!  :)

lowspark

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Re: Why are Americans so concerned about shoes?
« Reply #12 on: March 07, 2014, 09:53:21 AM »
I'm another who has only seen it around beach areas and in my experience, it is to keep people from walking in off the beach wearing only their swimsuits. They want their customers to be properly dressed.

And paint me as another who doesn't like the subject line. Just as many other countries, and in fact, exponentially more so, we are made up of many different people from many different cultures and we have many different regions with many different customs.

Sort of reminds me of that poem of a blind men's assessment an elephant. It's not that great of an idea to visit one neighborhood in one city in this vast country and then make a judgment of the entire vast country based on that one experience.

TootsNYC

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Re: Why are Americans so concerned about shoes?
« Reply #13 on: March 07, 2014, 10:55:14 AM »
The reason you see the signs is probably because there's a bigger -need- for signs. People do (or did once?) go barefoot in the US more, I think.


But there are: warts, foot fungus, liability from stuff that might be on the floor, minimum dress code.

I would bet that many places have "no shoes" on the signs because that's how they're sold; I think it would be hard to find one with just "no shirts, no service" on it.
And for them it's about maintaining a dress code--not "white tie" or "no denim," but "for god's sake, be fully dressed!"

and yeah, I really react badly to the "why are Americans so ..." sorts of comments.
« Last Edit: March 07, 2014, 10:58:10 AM by TootsNYC »

meronym

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Re: Why are Americans so concerned about shoes?
« Reply #14 on: March 07, 2014, 11:14:22 AM »
From googling, it doesn't look like there are health department regulations about customers having to wear shoes.  The "no shirt, no shoes, no service" signs appear to be more of a dress code thing.  However, I would not want to go barefoot in a restaurant or most other public places like that.  You never know what you might step in - something icky or sharp.

I would think this would be difficult to google. Where I live, every county has their own health dept and regulations. So while it may not be a regulation in my county it may be in the next county over.

I do have to say the "why are Americans (or any other country) so concerned "threads bug me! America is vast, we're a melting pot, you cannot use a large brush to paint everyone the same.

Not to mention that we're talking about wearing shoes in public establishments. I've traveled enough to know that expecting people to wear shoes in public isn't some "weird American" custom.