Summary: Aside from small groups such as those inhabiting the extreme North where footwear is needed for survival, footwear use emanates from the ancient aesthetic tradition of body art through foot decoration. Aesthetic foot art that includes a plantar surface covering (shoe; footwear) has always come at a cost to health and mobility. All social classes used footwear for the first time in human history commencing with the European Renaissance, and footwear use spread through its use become near universal through colonization and cultural imperialism. Footwear use continues through explicit and implicit social norms and contemporary self-serving pseudo-science.
As little as a century ago, footwear use outside of the home was ubiquitous only in economically advanced countries. Now it is almost universal. Even in the world’s poorest countries, only remote small sub-populations remain barefoot. For some the wearing of footwear is used to continue an ancient decorative tradition of using foot ornaments, but is is now referred to as "fashion." Most wear them through the force of explicit and implicit social norms in large part imposed through colonization and cultural imperialism.
Many individuals believe that social norms encouraging the use of footwear is based on scientific evidence that footwear use advances hygiene based on a millennium old, long refuted notion that footwear represent an effective barrier to communicable disease transmission. They may also retain the misconception advanced by modern pseudoscientists that footwear are needed by humans because the bare foot is insufficiently robust to sustain walking and running safely without the additional "protection" provided by shoes.
The recently shod from the developing world are under no such illusions about the benefits of footwear. They know that diseases acquired by being barefoot are rare and are not communicable. Whereas when barefoot they can remain upright for long periods, their feet become painful when standing when they wear shoes which they must relieve through sitting. They find them unsafe because shoes cause them to trip and fall. They note that it is more tiring to walk and run wearing them. They may not know that the plantar surface has the highest density of sweat glands of any skin surface, but they notice foot stench for the first time in their lives when they remove their initial shoes, and wonder why people in the developed world tolerate this disgusting condition of keeping their feet perpetually bathed in sweat through footwear use. They avoid them when they are not required. They dismiss shoe wearing as a purely illogical price that must be paid for entry into the colonialist created educational system, administration and industry - simply another mandated change to a sensible traditional practice in order to escape from poverty.
Ironically, most people living in developed countries are now historically so far removed from when their fore-bearers commenced footwear use that they have forgotten the actual reason why they were first worn as a symbol of status, or fashion - an expression of the ancient tradition of body art through foot decoration, This has made them vulnerable to myths regarding the importance of footwear to good health fabricated mainly by self-serving pseudoscientists.