Are toe rings unisex?


I'm an 18 y.o. male. I like ornamenting my body with different things; I wear necklaces, bracelets, rings... But I just got into a more unorthodox type of accessory, wearing rings on my toes. I always feel awkward wearing toe rings in public though, like while I'm wearing sandals on a hot day. I feel awkward even discussing this. I understand there are males besides myself who wear the same thing too, but I feel like other people may look at me and think that I'm weird or it's weird to wear that stuff, especially since people both male and female have already given me awkward expressions. I feel like if someone ever asked me or implied to me whether or not it's acceptable for a male to wear that type of thing, I would just say that earrings are unisex. A lot of things that were once considered only acceptable for one gender or another to do are becoming unisex. It has nothing to do with making any kind of statement or wanting to stand out in any kind of way. It's about being my choice what I want to do with my body, and enjoying it. I shouldn't care at all what anyone else thinks, yet somehow I do. My sister said it's cool how I ornament myself, and my parents don't think negatively about it. So my family is supportive I would venture to guess. It is only what the general public might think that I'm worried about. So how can I, like, get over that and not care what other people think? How can I just be at peace? Sometimes it's easy, other times difficult. It tends to be easiest when I'm at the beach or a pool, or if it's otherwise really hot weather. It is generally under those circumstances anyway that I even go barefoot or wear flip-flops. But the more the setting would be more appropriate to wear sneakers, boots, etc., the more awkward I feel. I saw a woman once in the dead of winter wearing a heavy winter coat but simultaneously wearing flip-flops and a toe ring on and I thought, because she's a woman, it is okay for her to do that I suppose; but if a dude did that, it would be really strange. I'm going to say this; I am kind of into feet sexually, and I believe that's where my fear comes from. Society has a very low opinion about ppl who are into that. I appreciate anyone's thoughts and answers for me regarding this matter. 

I certainly don't think any kind of clothing, jewelry, or other accessory is inherently for one gender⁠ and not another. Any of these things possess only the meaning we put on them, but that meaning doesn't always make sense to everyone, and isn't universal across cultures. So while I can't say that everyone considers toe rings unisex, I certainly do, and there's no official Toe Ring Authority who can tell you otherwise.

Beyond that, though, I don't think there's anything wrong with a person wearing clothes or accessories that are "meant" or designed for a person of another gender. If toe rings were "really" just for women, that wouldn't mean you couldn't just decide to wear them yourself!

However, I understand that just because you or I believe that, it doesn't mean everyone else does. I can really sympathize with having an element of your presentation that makes you feel good but that might draw unwanted attention or criticism from others. I'm a nonbinary⁠ trans guy with a full beard and a shaved head who loves wearing flashy nail polish and bright makeup; sometimes this leads to attention from others that I don't particularly want! When I leave the house, I never know if I'll wind up getting a friendly compliment while buying bubble tea around the corner or a vaguely hostile look or comment from someone on my street, and that can be stressful. I've had to think a lot about how to balance my comfort with my presentation.

There's a lot of value in the "forget what anyone else thinks, do what you want!" approach; it's also important to acknowledge that ignoring negative reactions, or even bracing for them, takes a certain level of mental energy that you may or may not have on a given day. Not everyone who likes to wear things others might read as unusual wants to deal with the attention that often comes with wearing those things in public.

One thing I've learned from experience, though, is that the fear of negative attention can make a strong reaction seem more likely than it actually is. The truth is that many folks just don't pay a lot of attention to the people around them and what they're wearing. Think about the last few times you left your house to run an errand or socialize with friends: do you remember anything about what the strangers around you were wearing? Even if you do remember something unusual, did you do anything more than briefly notice and move on? It's pretty common for people to shrug off anything they read as unusual in a stranger's presentation or appearance unless they are determined to be a jerk.

I mentioned above that I worry sometimes about getting hostile looks or reactions from people in my neighborhood, but it's actually been a couple of years since that happened to me. I've even gotten several compliments in the past month. The memory of a negative interaction sticks out⁠ so much more in my mind, but if I take a moment to think about it, I can remember that they've been pretty rare.

It is also possible that because you're into feet sexually, you're paying a lot more attention to other people's feet than people without that sexual⁠ interest tend to do. Because of this, you may be expecting more attention to fall on your feet and toe rings than they're likely to receive. I wouldn't be surprised if many people you encounter when you're wearing a visible toe ring don't notice it at all, unless, you're in a situation where sandals or bare feet are very unusual and so your feet draw their attention because of that. Even if someone does notice you wearing toe rings, that wouldn't be likely to lead them to the conclusion that you're attracted to feet. I can understand why this would add an extra layer of complexity to the situation, but I think it may be adding some unnecessary anxiety, as well.

As a side note, just in case it's helpful to hear: it really is fine to be attracted to feet. I'm sorry you've gotten a lot of messaging that says it's not okay or that it's something to be ashamed of. Liking feet isn't a bad or harmful preference to have!

Ultimately, what I'd recommend is that you do whatever it is you need to do in order to feel comfortable and confident wearing your toe rings. That might mean only wearing them in certain situations. For example, at first you might only want to wear toe rings around people you know and are comfortable with. It might mean having a response in your back pocket ready to go if someone asks a rude or ignorant question about your toe jewelry. It might mean reminding yourself you're probably not the object of a lot of close attention in public, and that you have every right to wear what you want.

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  • Al Washburn

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