Not what I want to look at while eating my meal, thanks. Photo: Jacky Ghossein
Spring is upon us, and the time fast approaching to bust out your warm weather wardrobe. Ahead of that liberating moment, there is a disturbing matter I'd like you to give some thought to.
At the risk of being labelled un-Australian, I hate thongs. Or flip-flops. Or jandals, if you're from New Zealand. No matter what you call them, they're an example of something utterly horrible that has taken over society to the detriment of its health. Like the Kardashians, twerking and reality television.
As I was preparing to write this, a friend actually felt the need to intervene: “Are you sure you want to do this? I mean, these are kind of cultural icons for Australia.”
Yeah … well, I checked the website of the Department of Foreign Affairs and they're not listed. Phar Lap, koalas, Akubra hats and even Vegemite are all considered national icons. But not thongs. In fact, the only thongs in that whole scenario were the ones on my friend's feet. Which he had worn to a restaurant.
And that right there, I think, is my primary gripe with these flimsy, flaccid and fetid bits of rubber.
OK, I admit that there are worse things eating at our society than eating out in thongs. Like the Kardashians, twerking and reality television. And that there may be certain scenarios where thongs are not only acceptable, but rather convenient. Such as the beach, at the pool or in the showers at the gym.
But somewhere along the way we have become brainwashed into believing that these barely-there toe-revealing bits of toot are perfectly acceptable footwear for most, if not all our daily activities. Even those activities where they're clearly not.
It's no longer completely unexpected to turn up to a bar and see a group of people at a table all impeccably dressed; and then you look down and there you have it – cracked heels, black toenails and a pair of feet that look like they were the stunt doubles for something out of Middle Earth out for all to see. Some things can't be unseen, and no one needs to see the lack of regard you pay to the upkeep of your feet.
Aside from the aesthetic issue, there are also the health ones that should be considered. Thongs offer next to no support for your foot. You'd actually be better off walking barefoot. In a report from Auburn University in the US, it was found that people who wear thongs shorten their strides, causing their heels to hit the ground with less vertical force. This throws off the natural gait of your body, leading to issues in your ankles, knees, hips and even your back later down the track.
And the next time you're slipping on your favourite pair of worn-down feet-breathers, consider this – another study back in 2009 found that one pair of thongs was home to more than 18,000 kinds of bacteria, including staphylococcus and even various forms of faeces. And we wonder why our feet stink …
I'm not expecting anyone to go out and squeeze their piggies into the latest pair of ostrich skin loafers just to get the milk. And I'm prepared to cop a lot of flak for daring to attack something so central to our national identity and way of life, possibly even more so than the notions of equality for all and a public holiday for a horse race.
All I'm saying is this – is it too much to ask that we agree that there are certain situations where thongs don't have a place? Like any situation that involves food, for example.
What do you think – are thongs acceptable footwear for all situations?