Just because you put separate toe pockets on a shoe, that does not make it "barefoot" or even "minimalist" or even useful. (&#(&%ING STOP IT.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Fila Skele-toes (LOL) "Voltage." A shoe which is trying to be both a Vibram FiveFinger AND a Nike Free at the same time!
Useless and stupid. The whole point of having separate toe pockets is so the toes can actually move. Thus enable natural function of the foot. Put a lot of rubber underneath there and any sort of cushioning at all, and suddenly your toe pockets don't bend well or flex at all. Thus completely negating having the toes separated. And at that point, you just look like a jackass.
And don't think that I'm on the Vibram FiveFinger bandwagon, either. Their recent trend of footwear is not unlike what you see above. The Bikila, TrekSport, Komodo, etc, are all "performance" shoes, but also are far less flexible and less minimalist that the earlier models like the Sprint. I bought my Sprints because they're just about as minimalist as you can get - a layer of rubber and a strip of fabric. I had almost full range of motion with my toes and had a lot of flexibility in my feet. I had a pair of Bikilas for a short time, and the toes barely moved at all. The whole shoe was stiffer. Needless to say the Bikilas went away and I have zero interest in any of Vibram's recent attempts at "barefoot running shoes."
Which leads me on to another rant:
BAREFOOT RUNNING SHOES DO NOT EXIST. IF YOU WEAR MINIMALIST SHOES AND SAY YOU'RE A BAREFOOT RUNNER...YOU ARE WRONG.
I won't even say sorry here. If you wear Vibrams, or Merrells, or racing flats, or whatever else kind of minimalist shoe - awesome! :) I love you, I do! I know it probably doesn't sound like it in this post, but I truly do. However, you are NOT running barefoot. You are wearing shoes. Ergo you are not barefoot.
I realize this sounds like semantics to some, but to me there is a world of difference between running truly barefoot and running with any sort of foot covering/shoe, even the most minimalist. Only those who have run barefoot long enough will understand and appreciate the point I'm trying to make here. Everyone else will probably just get pissed off.
It angers me because the people that go out and buy Vibrams or other minimalist shoes to join the movement and call themselves "barefoot runners" are hurting the actual barefoot running community. Because when those so-called "barefoot" (but actually very much shod) runners get injured from doing too much, too soon, and not properly training and educating themselves, then they often blame "barefoot running," which gets construed that all barefoot running is bad. When in all reality, most REAL barefoot runners know that truly barefoot is the safer way to go in most instances, and especially when first starting out.
That, and I REALLY HATE when I explain to someone that I run barefoot, and they ask me how much I like my Vibrams/Merrells/whatever shoe.
"Natural running" best describes both minimalist and barefoot running, in my opinion. But for Pete's sake, if you run in minimalist shoes, please don't say you're a barefoot runner. There's no dishonor in saying you run naturally or run minimalist. But saying you're a barefoot runner when you're clearly wearing shoes is NOT a turf battle or glory struggle between barefoot and minimalist runners. This is simple English. It just honestly looks stupid because you are clearly wearing something on your feet.
That is all.