Photo: Marko Metzinger
Like many women, I'm always on the lookout for a cellulite treatment that might actually work—but there are limits to what I will endure in the name of dimple-free thighs. So when the clodhoppers, called MBTs (Masai Barefoot Technology), first arrived on the scene a few years back amid lots of hype about how wearing them could reduce cellulite, I paid them no mind. They could eradicate cellulite, cover my roots, and bring me deep, lasting peace, and I still wouldn't wear them. But then recently I began noticing some of the most stylish women I know—a chic art gallery owner, a fellow beauty editor, my own mother—brazenly tromping around town in these shoes. When I asked about their choice of footwear, they all gushed.
"They give me an ab workout just walking to work—feel my stomach."
"My butt's gotten firmer."
"My back pain is gone."
So one summer day, I slipped on a pair for an afternoon stroll…and found myself stumbling down the block. I didn't realize that the shoes' convex soles require a heel-to-toe rocking motion with every step. The manufacturers recommend taking shorter strides to maximize the effects of the design, which is supposed to re-create the feeling of walking barefoot in the sand, constantly rebalancing your body and recruiting muscles in the legs, butt, back, and abs. And though they don't claim that MBTs can de-dimple thighs, they do say the shoes improve posture and increase muscle activity. (Sure enough, after wearing them for a few hours, the backs of my thighs feel a bit sore.)
I've been walking (or, actually, rolling) around in my MBTs three days a week, for at least three hours a day, for almost a month now. I can't say that my legs are noticeably more toned, and I'm still waiting to see my six-pack develop, but my posture has improved—I'm standing straighter even when I'm wearing daintier footwear. I've also come to see in the MBTs a certain jolie laide charm. I mean, they're so odd-looking, they're almost attractive. I'm thinking of trying one of the new styles (there are now almost 70)—but I'll still probably wear them only on weekend trips to rural Vermont.