More often than necessary, women are consumed with the idea of infatuation. Every culture has its own form of standards that pertain to women and what constitutes beauty. Although the world is slightly more accepting now, women used to go to extreme lengths to achieve an image that would be deemed attractive. In the Chinese culture, foot binding was that well-known beauty expectation for centuries. What started off as a celebrity fad, turned into a way of determining social status and eventually an all-around beauty expectation. 2 The objective of foot binding was for women to have the smallest foot possible, starting at very young ages. Not only was this a painful process for girls as young as five years, but it also promoted the idea that women must mutilate their bodies to become appealing to men. At some point in time, women began to just accept that this was something that was supposed to be done in order to be attractive. Often referred to as “lotus boats” or “golden lotuses,” bound feet started as a fad for the famous, and slowly made its way to becoming the social norm.3
This practice began around the tenth century with women in the entertainment business. These women were adored for their tiny arched feet and were seen by men to be much more attractive than middle class women with average feet. As these dancers were gaining an audience, the idea of “lotus feet” was becoming familiar. Not long after these performers expressed their “beauty,” foot binding became a norm for women who wanted to fit in and even for those who had a desire to find a husband.4 This painful process consisted of the breaking of young girl’s toes to form the desired triangular shape. Then the arch of the foot would be bent horizontally from the toes all the way to the heel. As if this was not painful enough, the girls were forced to walk on their feet to intensify the arch, breaking the foot even more. After all of this, the foot would be wrapped to maintain the shape of it as well as prevent any sort of deviation.5
Although this practice was around for centuries, it was only a matter of time before someone realized how inhumane and cruel it really was. Thankfully, many people began to protest against foot binding, forming “anti-foot binding organizations” to raise awareness on the inhumanity of binding women’s feet. By the 1950’s, laws were passed, allowing women to unbind their feet. Although hesitant at first, the trend slowly declined. Many women protested to unbinding their feet, due to the fact that it had been a social norm a thousand years. However, the movement against foot binding continued and eventually the last of the factories that make the tiny shoes were shut down, disabling the women from continuing the custom. Today, foot binding is no longer practiced and the only women who continue to maintain the tiny feet are those elder women who refuse to let go of the past.6
Great job! Lots of good detail and information. Its crazy to think of how the idea of beauty is different for each culture and how it is perceived throughout the world. Foot binding is definitely one of the more outlandish and inhumane trends of beauty.