What a Natural Human Foot Looks Like If You Never Wear Shoes

The above photo (source) was taken by Brazil’s Indian Affairs Department of a tribe of Indians who live in Brazil near the Peruvian border (Map of Brazil). The people standing around above are from a tribe of humans endangered by encroaching illegal l…

Do Your Feet Look Like This?

The above photo (source) was taken by Brazil’s Indian Affairs Department of a tribe of Indians who live in Brazil near the Peruvian border (Map of Brazil). The people standing around above are from a tribe of humans endangered by encroaching illegal loggers on the Peru side of the border. These folks need our help. In a way, these Indians are time travelers from humanity’s past. And while that’s a discussion in and of itself, the reason I’m sharing it here on BirthdayShoes should be obvious. Just look at those feet.
I'm not sure these feet would even fit in some of the most generously-sized "barefoot shoe" toe boxes.
I’m not sure these feet would even fit in some of the most generously-sized “barefoot shoe” toe boxes.

By Justin

Justin Owings is a deadlifting dad of three, working from Atlanta. When he's not chasing his three kids around, you'll find him trying to understand systems, risk, and human behavior.

26 replies on “What a Natural Human Foot Looks Like If You Never Wear Shoes”

Can someone get them in action to see how they run/jump etc? Also a closer photo of the feet would be nice 🙂

Awesome post Justin!

@Jonthan – sure. I wonder if they normally scrunch their toes in or if it is just a coincidence. I’m sure it could be for better grip.

Well this is funny!

We run a Dutch website on (what we call) ‘barefoot style’ running, and as such we have pointed our visitors to your website numerous times, for reviews of new shoes etc.

This exact same picture however (and about the same observations as you guys make) was used in an article on february 1 way back in 2011. Beat you to the punch on this one! 😉

You can find our article here:

Now that I’ve worn minimalist shoes for a few years, I can’t wear regular shoes even if I want to because the toe boxes are too narrow. Imagine if you’d never worn shoes at all!

It looks like the toes are the widest part of the foot.

My foot would look like that if I hadn’t worn shoes. My big toes aren’t really bunyoned (which means that almost all shoes give them trouble), but my little toes are dramatically curled in from wearing shoes.


Totally know about your site though I guess I missed this post of yours! It’s a great photo and an obvious story for folks who follow barefoot. A forum member posted about the photo a few days ago on BirthdayShoes, which was the first I’d seen the photo.

I’ll just chalk it up to great minds 😉 But really it’s just how these things get around on the net.

One of my college roommates was from Kenya and his feet looked similar. It was very interesting to see the natural splay of his toes. He told me he used to run all day save for a short lunch break.

I wonder if anyone in the tribe has Morton’s toe. No one in this picture does… and even though I don’t wear “conventional” shoes, my long second tow (actually, shortened first metatarsal…) still gives me foot problems.

yea, still mad knowing that my feet are messed up like that…

if only i could undo it 🙁

but anyway, wow those are definitely normal feet lol

i agree, don’t think those would fit in even altra shoes

Im brazilian and it is not that they never were shoes, but also genetics. My ex had a strong native heritage and her feet were quite wide, with short toes. She didnt like them at all, but I used to tell her feet was quite great for almost everything except shoes.

Im a quite white guy (for brazilian standards) and have long toes. Besides suffering a lot when it comes to find shoes size 14, I also suffer while on my knees in jiu-jitsu where your toes must remain flexed, my ex toes could bend easily til she was on her balls.

“Evidence that VFFs still don’t have enough splay in the narrower & stiffer models.”

Which VFF models are you talking about? – Thanks.

I ran around barefoot growing up in Parowan in southern Utah in the desert. I have thick calluses and yes my toes splay with plenty of freedom. Shoes have always been hard for me and I have often had to buy mens shoes and larger sizes due to the widths. I have also had the same kind of issues with pants, particularly jeans which are always too skinny and anywhere from 1/2′-1 1/2′ too long and I am not overweight by any means.

I broke both of my feet early 2011 escaping a 2 story apt fire out the window onto concrete and now have 2 permanent screws that were placed in my left shattered heel. First time I bought shoes when I started walking again are all way too large, clunky, and just plain suck. I ran into a guy wearing the VFF on the max and did some research and ordered a pair of the women’s leather Treks size 37, perfect fit. Thanks to these shoes I no longer have a limp and my range of motion is better than most who have never had major foot trauma.

I tried a pair of the KSO’s and for 3 months no matter how hard I tried to break them in they gave me 2 blisters right over where the screws were buried into my heel. I recently bought some of the newer size 37 models with the lacing system and open top styles and all of them either I cannot get my foot into or they feel fine, but after a while I notice my 2 small toes on my left foot start getting cramped. The 2 small toes on my left foot do not give me any issue since they were broken and are now slightly shorter.

My next step is to try size 38 or some of the mens styles that they make small enough since Vibram advertises they are slightly wider. I do not want a sloppy fit since they are made to wear like a glove. Extremely disappointed Vibram have discontinued the leather models in the US starting with the women’s. I can never go back to regular shoes again for more than a day. Every time I try to wear a pair I find myself hating it and missing my leather Treks.

If only there was a site or something for the exchange or purchase or some way to get the models sold in other countries at the very least for those with such particular needs. Or if vibram would consider international selling of all styles/sizes.

It would be awesome if vibram to made custom models where the customer sizes their feet, either in a retailer like they do at redwings shoes or by some kind of mail-in kit making custom VFF’s an even more incredible shoe.

there are some five finger shoes that would suit these free people’s feet, as some are stiffer than others and some could take more of the variety of situations that these free people travel on or through. I was looking at some documentary on these people and I observed the way they move on their feet. In fact I have always had a habit of watching how free people walk and run on the earth.
I have been a bare footer my self for many years. While not being a free person as these people are, I was finally so blessed to stumble upon five finger and bare foot shoes. Since then I have many different pairs and totally enjoyed them for each of their varied qualities. Vibrum are best. Yet I have found it really hard to purchase these great shoes locally or import them into my country. I wear these shoes daily and am a real live sales person. I’m sure these free people would at least enjoy these shoes and they could remain un-curupted by the not so free world society.
how could I become a supplier in my country? ( Everyone wants to try them, and really enjoy seeing me wearing them. We need to re-evolve from head to toe but I think it best to start from the ground up in order to make proper sense of our adjustments to better living.

Thanks for running the story, the detailed photo, and especially for including the link(source) which has a further link to a video sequence shot by the BBC. I’d seen this image when it appeared on the BBC website in January 2011 but the image did not have enough resolution to make out details of the feet. In looking for the image I’d originally seen, I went to the BBC website and searched for “uncontacted tribe Brazil”. There were 13 stories that popped up, spanning the period from 2000 to 2013.

After four years of wearing nothing on my feet other than FiveFingers and thong sandals, and consciously trying to get my toes to splay whenever I put my feet up on the coffee table, I can get my feet (or at least my right foot) to look something like those in the photo.

Mine are returning to resemble those feet, since I have been wearing Vibram Five Fingers shoes nearly 99% of the time in the last 3 years.

In the office my colleagues used to call me, “gorilla men”.

What’s your opinion:

Which VFF can fit the natural feet like those? Bikila?

Which VFF are too stiff at the fingers, etc? Lontra?

I remember reading that a babies wide feet closely resemble a natural human foot before shoes. The average shoe is pushing the bones in the shoe lace area together similarly to forcing a lady in a medieval corset, so I guess this makes sense since even vff’s tighten the arch a tiny bit.

You’re a class act Justin… I liked your soothing response to Frunning’s sensitivity above. Great picture and provocative post; it makes me wonder what other parts of our lives would “straighten out” if we lived au naturel. My two years with the Peace Corps in a Third World country allowed a lot of my personality and values to straighten out too.

I’m with Gabriel above, I’m the fanatic who wears VFF’s 100% of the time except for an occasional quick flip flop trip across my property and back. Over the past several years my toes have realigned and I can now slide into most of my toe shoes easily. My waterproof Bornio Boots are the best for this–they are my winter saviors. It would take a ridiculous amount of money for me to part with any of my 3 pair.

When i was in papua new guinae a lot of people didnt wear shoes much they had massive feet like this, they could walk on jagged rocks no problem

Looking at beautiful feet like in those pictures, I feel anger towards my parents for not telling me about the consequences of shoes. :[

I wish there was some surgery available to undo all the disfiguration.

Having worn VFF’s or nothing over the past four years has of course helped the muscles and softer tissues, but the bones stay wrong…


My feet are like that and I have worn only boots all my life after age 11. My big toes stretch outward not inward, and when I walk I grasp the floorvwith my toes within my boots. I have no “bunion” bumps at all, my little toe was crooked and sideways at birth.

MY FEET LOOK LIKE THAT! I never worn shoes more than a couple hours all my life and that is exactly what my feet look like. i’ve always just been told I have really wide feet.

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