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Army bans use of ‘toe shoes,’ citing image concerns

(Courtesy of City Sports)

Bad news, trendsetters: The Army has officially banned soldiers from wearing “toe shoes” while training.

No, not the en pointe ballet slippers.

The glovelike shoes, with individual sections for individual toes, are supposed to simulate the experience of being barefoot and, enthusiasts say, reduce the likelihood of injuries. But in a notice this month, the Army said that the shoes were not becoming, and that its policy would henceforth be modified.

To wit:

There are a variety of minimalist running shoes available for purchase and wear. Effective immediately, only those shoes that accommodate all five toes in one compartment are authorized for wear. Those shoes that feature five separate, individual compartments for the toes, detract from a professional military image and are prohibited for wear with the IPFU or when conducting physical training in military formation.

True believers have already reacted with alarm.

An Army company commander writing at Foreign Policy’s Best Defense, which picked up on the announcement earlier, doesn’t get it, either.

“Professionals sometimes wear items/clothing that may look ‘weird’ but serves a professional purpose,” the anonymous commander wrote. “Anyway, I have had some Five Fingers for over a year, and I love them. They reduce shin splints, work your calves better, toughen your feet, and reduced my five mile run average by five minutes in three months.”

No response yet from Vibram, the manufacturer of toe shoes.

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