men's shoes, and
Is it proper shoe etiquette
wearing hooker boots to the opera?
In most parts of the world (Asia, Eastern
Europe, parts of the Middle East and Africa,
much of Northern Europe and Canada, as well
as Alaska) it is customary to remove shoes
when returning to one's own home or visiting
others. In the US it is not a "custom",
but it is very common. People do this to
avoid tracking in dirt, mud, snow, or other
unpleasant things stepped on in the street.
This is because people in most countries
wish to keep their homes and carpets clean.
On the other hand, in some countries (e.g.
the US and Western Europe) some people are
displeased if others take shoes off in their
company. It is often explained by foot odor.
However, some Americans leave their shoes
on when returning to their own home, even
if there is no one around to offend by potential
foot odor. This practice is however unhygenic,
as it exacerbates the odor by providing
ideal conditions for fungal infections such
as athlete's foot and other diseases of
the feet. In almost all parts of the world,
people will remove their shoes if they have
been walking through snow or mud; this applies
to countries where the "foot odor"
stigma exists as well. It might be mentioned
that foot odor results partly from wearing
shoes for many hours; this is a possible
explanation for the "foot odor"
fear in countries where shoes are worn for
most of the day. People in these countries
sometimes do not remove their shoes until
they absolutely must, for example, bathing
or going to sleep. However foot odor can
develop in even a short amount of time,
and depends also on the type of
shoes and the individual.
People wearing specialized types of shoes,
such as snow boots, work boots, or high
heels, often remove their shoes upon returning
to their homes. This is true even in countries
where shoes are not normally taken off.
In the Middle East and Thailand, it is
considered rude to show the soles of the
feet to others (even accidentally, such
as by crossing the legs). In addition, in
Thailand, it is an extreme insult for the
foot, socks, or shoes to touch someone's
head or be placed over it. Although feet
touching heads is an extremely rare occurrence
in any society, some Muay Thai boxers insult
each other by "kicking" the opponent's
head with their foot (most Muay Thai kicks
are executed with the shin).
Sitting in trains it is often allowed
to put one's feet on the opposite
seat, provided that one takes one's
shoes off or put them on a
to avoid possible dirtying of the seat.
Many people in Western countries put their
feet up on the seat in front of them in
movie theaters, although this is considered
rude by some.