Kim Nelson: An Open Letter to Flip-Flops

Dear Flip-Flops,

I’m sorry, but I just don’t get you. Many say that you are “sooooo comfortable”, but those people must have flat pancake feet. Whenever I try to wear you for more than an hour, my back hurts, my feet ache, blisters appear out of nowhere, and your thong rubs away the skin between my big and second toes. I can only guess that your admirers normally wear some sort of Lady Gaga-esque lobster claw heels if they’re finding  you preferable in comparison.

When I hear someone walk by while wearing flip-flops, I am forced to listen to the thwack of rubber smacking one’s skin like some unauthorized soundtrack to 50 Shade of Grey. The unattractiveness of visible feet is so universally agreed upon that I don’t even have to bring that up here. When I see nearly nude flip-flopped feet out at the bar or on the El, I sometimes wish that I had a brick handy to drop on them, just to teach a lesson.

I do admit that flip-flops have their place; one is at the beach. An environment full of fine sand particles sitting out in the sun, hot to the touch, is an appropriate situation in which you would only want the barest covering for your tootsies. Another is the locker room. You have saved many a soul from plantar warts and athlete’s foot, and for that I respectfully tip my hat to you.

Anywhere else, however, you are treading a fine line of personal comfort and social acceptability. I don’t care how divey a bar is, I don’t want to look at hairy hobbit feet while enjoying an adult beverage. At an outdoor street fest, you are leaving some of the smallest bones in the human body unprotected and vulnerable to trampling by drunk patrons and burning by dropped cigarette butts. I am a firm believer in secure footwear–what are you going to do in the case of a sudden zombie apocalypse? While those of us in sensible shoes secured by laces are outrunning the undead, those of you in flip-flops will be left behind, easy pickings after tripping on your own Havianas. Or what about a sudden mudslide? Your retail-priced Reefs will drown faster than the horse from Neverending Story.

“Why pick on me, and not other types of sandals?” you may ask. That’s a fair question which I’ll answer for you. Strappy sandals, clogs, open-toed flats, and other cousins of yours show off almost as much skin, but with their assortment of buckles, footbeds, and adornments, they are much closer to being actual shoes. There’s an attempt at fashion and personality. You, on the other hand, with your simplistic set-up of two straps and a flat piece of rubber, are as crudely designed as a paper gown from the doctor’s office.

I know that you have your own loyal legion of followers who will undoubtedly argue against me on this issue, and I am OK with that. We can agree to disagree. I will continue to live my life my way, and they can continue to be filthy hippies grossing people out with their unkempt toenails, freakishly long second phalanges, and callouses that have yet to meet a pedi-egg.


A lifelong shoe wearer


  1. This perfectly sums up and is 100% my exact sentiment towards flip-flops. I even gave them a chance, mind you, when I was a little girl and could not decide which foot wear I can buy and it resulted in me being attacked by a flock of wasps (actually,they attacked the flip-flops, my legs died in the proces!). Not even the animals like them!

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