20 years ago he took off his shoes. He didn’t put them back on.

Kate Lindsay recalled her sister’s wedding in 2009, which was photographed by Mr. DeRuvo and Ms. Ecker. At the backyard reception, she said, Mr. DeRuvo answered guests’ questions about his feet without becoming a sideline.

“He could, if you’ll forgive the pun, go that route,” said Ms. Lindsay, who hired him to photograph her own wedding party in 2016.

His kids don’t remember a big announcement that dad was giving up shoes, only that their dad’s shoes became increasingly minimal. “Eventually things took a turn and he didn’t trust shoes anymore,” said Nate De Ruvo, 33, a barista in Boston.

As a child, Nate was well aware that his father was greeted with suspicion by strangers. “It was clear that he was breaking a social contract, but it didn’t make sense why that particular one was so embedded in people,” he said.

Once he asked his father why people were so upset. “People don’t like being reminded that they are animals,” he said, his father telling him. “They don’t like to admit that we’re not that different from the other creatures that walk around.”

Opal DeRuvo also grew up with the often angry reactions to her father’s bare feet. Opal identifies as non-binary transfeminine and has experienced society’s lack of acceptance. “People take such offense when someone tries to make their world easier,” said Opal, 31, an artist.

When dressed smartly, Opal wears stilettos, a shoe choice that provides an opportunity to reflect on her father’s experiences. “When I’m crossing a cobblestone street or a subway grate with holes,” Opal said, “I have to be careful in a way not so dissimilar to my father.” (“I find it humorous within the bounds of things that I have a child who chooses to wear stiletto heels,” said Mr. DeRuvo.)

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/03/01/nyregion/barefoot-living-no-shoes-joe-deruvo.html 20 years ago he took off his shoes. He didn’t put them back on.


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