Oh good golly, Miss Molly. Where to begin! I've been wearing "dem damn toe shoes" since 2008, and have been exclusively wearing them since retiring from the Army in February. (Thus far, the Army is the only branch of the US military that has gone to the extreme of actually making a regulation banning freaky-deaky footwear with individual toe pockets during 'organized' physical fitness training, while every other service has either shrugged and OK'd them or gone the opposite direction and made a reg that OK's them... Oy.)
Speaking of the Army, let's start there:
In 2010 I had the chance to watch (as best I can remember the exchange) the following scene during PT one morning on Ft Bliss along a run route. This was between a very crusty Sergeant Major and a fellow E6/Staff Sergeant who I had seen around but didn't know personally. This was well before the Army reg officially banning toe shoes came out:
E6 running past SM: Morning, Sergeant Major.
SM sees toe shoes, whips head around, stops dead.
SM: Hey, troop!
E6 stops and turns to SM, immediately going to Parade Rest: Sergeant Major.
SM, glaring at the black KSOs the E6 is wearing: The hell are you wearing?
(Long story short, E6 gives a Cliff's Notes version of VFFs and his KSO, citing what they have done to relieve his shin splints and their growing popularity.)
SM: I don't gove a good goddamn about yer medical problem! They're f***ing slippers! Get your goddamn PT shoes!
E6: I was told by my company commander, who also wears these, it was okay as there is no regulation against them.
SM: And I'm telling you I don't want to see troops wearing slippers at gaddamn PT! You're a goddamn staff sergeant and you are setting a goddamn poor example for your troops to follow... (Insert several minutes of gratuitous brow beating emphasized with a lot of 'goddamns.')
E6: With all due respect, Sergeant Major, you are not in my chain-of-command, and my company commander has been granted approval to wear his by our battalion commander.
SM, huffing: You gonna tell me how it is? You are the most unprofessional non-commissioned officer I have ever seen. I'll have you and your slippers on the carpet* and busted, you goddamn sh*tbag!
*On the carpet: calling someone 'on the carpet' means to stand before a commanding officer, usually for disciplinary action, as, in the olden days, only officers had carpet in their offices.
E6, retaining military bearing but not backing down: Sergeant Major, these are not slippers. They are running shoes. They allow me to run naturally and without pain, unlike the heavy running shoes the Army has forced me to wear my whole career which almost crippled me. Almost every infantry soldier has some problem with ankles, feet and knees, and it's your kind of unprofessional ignorance that will continue breaking good soldiers off.
By now there were a lot of soldiers milling about trying not to appear engrossed in their exchange but obviously enjoying a staff sergeant hold his ground against this SM.
SM, shaking with anger: (like Clint Eastwood) Moove the f*ck out, troop! I'll have your ass!
With that he turned and jogged off. The E6 stood and watched him go, pointing to the SM's NEON GREEN AIR JORDAN BASKETBALL SHOES HE WAS WEARING WITH A GRAY ARMY PT SHIRT AND BLACK ARMY PT SHORTS
making sure all the soldiers with sight noticed as well. There were many chuckles in the SM's wake.
And one I get asked alot as I wear mine (among my friends, I am known as the Imelda Marcos of VFFs; if you don't know who that is, you are to young to remember. Google her...)
Uninformed Heel Striker: (points to my toe shoes) Do those work?
Me: (with incredulous stare) As a renewable energy source...? As...food...?
(I usually have to bite my tongue not to add: "Here's yer sign!")