Have you ever thought your feet were to big?

I know I’ve thought it, I wear a 9 1/2. One thousand years ago in China it was socially acceptable to bind a child’s feet so that they were no more than four inches long.

According to an article by James Crites, where I read up on Chinese foot binding it is unclear why this tradition came to be. There are legends that there was a princess who walked so gracefully because she had such tiny feet. Another legend says that women began binding their feet so they could sympathize with an empress who had clubbed feet.

Regardless of how it started it built a trend that ran like wild fire and lasted almost 1, 000 years. According to Crites one billion women had their feet bound before it was outlawed in 1911.

Everyday for two years little girls between the ages of four and seven had to suffer pain that no child should have to deal with. Every morning their mother would wrap their feet up with a 10 foot long bandage so that their toes curled under to touch the arch of their foot.

Could you imagine your mother doing this to you and better yet listen to her say that is it for your own good?

“The feet had to be washed and manicured on a daily basis. If they weren’t manicured properly the toe nails could cut into the instep and infection could set in. If the bindings were too tight they could cut off circulation which could lead to gangrene and blood poisoning. The feet had to be massaged and given hot and cold compresses to help relieve the pain and help improve circulation. If all this isn’t bad enough, corns would develop on the toes that were bent under and would have to be cut off with a knife. But wait! It gets worse! With the lack of circulation flesh would rot and fall off and sometimes the toes would ooze pus.”

Your feet are dead and completely deformed and you will remain in these small shoes fit for a child for the rest of your life.

Don’t they say that beauty is pain? This wasn’t any three hour surgery with a two week recovery process, this was an entrapment of pain for their entire life. They couldn’t do much work so they were confined to their homes. It made them helpless and weak, more appealing to the dominating male. In fact men started to prefer and only marry women with bound feet.

Not to mention, “It was believed that the way foot binding made a woman walk strengthened the vagina and made it more narrow. The girls’ buttocks and “jade gate” were believed to develop to such a degree that she could grip her husbands “jade spear” more tightly.”

The whole process and all intentions surrounding it is completely nauseating. But people did it for decades because parents wanted their daughters to find a suitable husband. Crites said that made foot binding illegal because they realized it conflicted with a woman’s education…:)

Their health, stability and freedom must not have been that important…



Filed under Beauty is Pain

2 responses to “Have you ever thought your feet were to big?

  1. hlemai

    It’s interesting how you wrote about foot binding when right now The Good Earth, by Pearl S. Buck is on TCM. Did you have to read that in high school? The women in the book are so strong; they’d give birth and work in the field shortly after.
    More to the point though, they describe foot binding and it just sounds like such a horrific experience to go through to be seen as beautiful.
    I suppose women are lucky that the ideas of what is beautiful change over time.
    I wonder what will be ideal 30 years from now.

  2. I wear a size 6- 6.5 so no. I’ve always thought my hands and feet were freakishly small.

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