[media-credit name=”Bryan Butterfield” align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]In the book, To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus explains to Scout: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view—until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”
Trevor Hicks-Collins, 36, and Nick, 26, are two Weber State University students that want others to understand their point of view, and to explain their unique shoe preference without receiving judgment.
Nick, who prefers his last name to remain anonymous, is a full-time student and a stay-at-home father who is pursuing a degree in Interpersonal Communication. His preference in shoe attire is fashionable women’s high heels, pumps, and boots.
Nick stands at a height of 6’5 without heels, and wears a women’s size 11. His closet at home contains roughly around 23 pairs of shoes; athletic, basketball, and dress shoes are among the mix.
“To me, heels are part of my casual wear,” said Nick. “They are something I can wear every day and relax in. If I’m out gallivanting on the town, then I’ll just be wearing heels. In a church service or black tie occasion I wear the normal, black shiny shoes.”
He started wearing women’s shoes shortly after coming home from an LDS church mission five years ago.
“I came home, and was so tired with the drab shoes that guys have; so boring and so dull, and I have always been fascinated with heels,” said Nick. “I figured I would give them a go, and what changed from a simple curiosity, turned into something that transformed my life for the better.”
As a child and teenager, Nick felt uncomfortable in his own skin. “I was always the nerd; always picked on and called names,” he said.
Coming from a family with a half a-dozen children, Nick didn’t have much time with his parents and felt the pressure of “keeping up with the Jones’s.” It was troublesome for him to decide who he was and what he wanted to become.
The first time Nick wore heels in public was at a community college. “I was so scared, my heart was palpating as I walked in,” he said. “But it was not a problem; no one even saw or cared. It was a boost of confidence. This world is diverse enough that I can add my own diversity to it without receiving scrutiny. After that, it was game over.”
Nick has been married to his wife for four years and a has daughter who he calls a “little ball of fire.” His wife is a college graduate and is currently working a full-time job. This is Nick’s time to receive an education.
Nick has found his voice and wants to share it with others. “I have actually been able to talk with a few people, and some of them have said, ‘You have really changed my life and my perspective on things.’ If I can do that for one person or even ten people, what do you think they can do for ten other people? It can change the world,” said Nick.
Trevor, the Davis Campus Vice President, has quite a different outlook and preference regarding footwear; he doesn’t wear them.
Five years ago, Trevor Hicks-Collins was involved in a serious car accident that occurred due to a drunk driver. After surviving the accident and multiple back surgeries, he started to research other methods to alleviate the pain.
Hicks-Collins found multiple articles that told of the numerous health benefits to walking barefoot. They included: stress reduction, preserving a normal arch and helping one’s natural point of gravity.
He also found that walking barefoot can alleviate callouses, hammer toes, bunions and other foot deformities that shoes might cause.
Ever since the accident, he enjoys walking on the cold pavement and feeling the grass between his toes.
“The Davis Campus has the best grass Weber State University has anywhere,” said Hicks-Collins. “When I pull up to the Davis Campus, I’m excited because I get to walk across the grass up to the building. It’s all thick and plush, like a huge carpet.”
The threat of stepping on a rock or a piece of glass doesn’t worry him; according to him the benefits exceed the negative.
“I step on rocks all the time, but I’ve never cut my foot or anything like that,” said Hicks-Collins. “Until I didn’t wear shoes, I never realized how much of the world I was missing. The phrase, ‘you don’t stop to smell the flowers,’ well when you’re not wearing shoes, it forces you to stop and smell the flowers so to speak.”
The downfall to this barefoot lifestyle is the negative feedback Hicks-Collins sometimes receives.
“It’s not so much the criticism, but the certain judgment that goes along with it,” he said. “At graduation, I didn’t wear shoes, and people looked at me like I was committing a cardinal sin.”
One place that Hicks-Collins will wear shoes is inside public bathrooms. Just in case the opportunity presents itself, he carries converse shoes inside his backpack. “Because for men, we do walk up to the urinal,” he said. “There is splatter and things like that, and I don’t want to step into someone else’s urination.”
David Robles, who is studying Criminal Justice, also prefers going barefoot and found a perfect solution: Vibram Five Finger shoes. They are a shoe that fits like a glove to the foot and gives the wearer the sensation of going barefoot, but has the protection of a sole.
“I just don’t like shoes, I don’t know why,” Robles said. “I have seriously worn the Vibrams with a tuxedo before. Shoes are just so uncomfortable to me. I like to move my toes and have that free feel on the floor.”