Podophobia is the fear of bare feet. This is actually more common of a phobia than people realize. However, I don’t know anyone else with this phobia. I know people with petaphelaphobia, which is the fear of people touching your feet, but not podophobia. People with podophobia tend to have petaphelaphobia as well. I have had this since I can remember and nothing triggered it. I made up reasons such as being stung three times in the foot in the exact same place when I was young. That was the last time I walked in the grass barefoot, but I was developing this phobia before then. It is this quirk I have that my family and friends love to torture me with. I have also been called a freak because of this.
Now, living with podophobia is interesting because I don’t always freak out when I see feet. I have the tendency to cringe, become uncomfortable, feel nauseated, feel the need to wash myself vigorously in hot water after touching my feet or being accidentally touched by someone else’s feet, avoid situations involving bare feet, and moving myself away quickly if someone sits or puts their feet near me. I have also been to known to squeal or create a sound borderline disgusted and frightened as I move away. Usually I wear socks, avoid wearing open-toed shoes, and find ways to keep my feet covered if the first two options are unavailable. My family finds my phobia to be who I am because they are so used to it, but they tend to find it funny or become annoyed with it. The annoyance comes from having to be aware of where their feet are if they are around me and I can tell they get annoyed by watching the habits I have formed from this phobia. I can understand their annoyance because it becomes more difficult in the warmer months.
A memory I have that has, in a way scarred me, is with my mother. My parents found this hilarious, but I was disgusted. My mother had clipped her toenails and out of her three children, she decided to call me to throw them away. I didn’t know what she wanted me to throw away until she dropped them in my hand and I froze for a second or two with a face of pure horror. My parents laughed hard at it and joked about how they have scarred me as I ran to throw them away. I washed my hands about four to five times and my hands were red afterwards. It felt like her toenails were burning into my hand and even after I washed my hands a good amount, I still felt like they were there. They don’t know that is how I felt and I can still feel it as I just wrote about it.
For those of you wondering, I am barefoot in the shower. I have been asked that very question multiple times. Recently in the past couple years, I have started to wear water shoes to the pool, beach, lake, etc. The only other place I am barefoot is when I am sleeping. If I could then I would wear socks to bed, but I have the tendency to take them off in my sleep and have lost lots of socks, so I gave in. I have blankets covering them, so it doesn’t bother me much. Since I have been dealing with this my whole life, I have figured out ways to lower my discomfort, which is mainly avoidance, but I have the tendency to be clear cut about it and don’t really hide it.
There are times I wish I wasn’t like this, but at the same time, I have no desire to “fix” myself. This is me. Everyone has their aversions and fears. I am still able to live my life. I hope you all learned something new and if this resonated with you then I hope you feel understood.