Kicking Off His Shoes - Forever

feet steve hartman
If shoes can make the man - then what are we to make of Chris Roat?

He's a 32-year-old IT specialist and member of the Society for Barefoot Living, CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman reports.

"It's more connected to the earth," Roat said. "You get more of a sensory feedback."

The society is an international organization of more than 1,000 loafer loathers - people who, not only prefer going barefoot, but believe we should all give our shoes the boot.

"Foot ailments that podiatrists spend a lot of time treating are at least exacerbated by, if not caused by shoes."

And you know what's really disturbing? Other than this camera angle? That Chris is right. Or at least there are several recent studies that seem to back him up.

One, in a podiatry journal called "The Foot," compared feet today with 2,000-year-old skeleton feet - and discovered that, as a species, we had healthier feet before we invented the shoe … that shoes do more harm than good.

And that we wouldn't need shoes, if we didn't wear shoes.

"Well, did you ever talk to a caveman?" said Jerry, a salesman at Joseph's shoes in Philadelphia. "Well then how would you know it's not necessary?!"

Of course, not everyone is buying it.

"You can walk over nails, stones, cut glass," Jerry said. "You have to walk all the time watching where you're going, you could get hit by a car."

"I didn't even factor that in," Hartman said.

Chris, who doesn't even wear shoes to his job at a mail-order company, insists there's nothing dangerous, or unsanitary, about it.

In fact -- those signs that say no shoes, no service by order of the health department - the barefooters say that's just a bunch of malarky. They even have letters from every state health department in America saying there is no such order.

"This country is founded on freedom and liberty and such a simple choice shouldn't be questioned at all," Chris said.

Still, despite his passion, Chris knows all too well how hard it is to convince people to give up their shoes.

His daughter Lily has 13 pair and insists she needs them all.

I guess sometimes the apple can fall far from the shoe tree.

  • Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.