You Think High Heels Are Painful...

Thank God for flat feet

Ancient Chinese custom, well, not so ancient because it continued into the early 1900s, required that women bind their feet so that they were as tiny as possible. And by tiny, I mean that the perfect length of a woman's foot was 3 inches. 3 inches! I don't know about you, but my foot is definitely longer than 3 inches, and I have small feet...

The binding would begin around the age of 6, when girls were still growing and their bodies still forming. The foot would be bent sideways, so that the girl would eventually balance on her heel and her big toe. The other four toes would break, causing them to fold underneath the foot and be useless. It was thought that the crease in between the front part of the foot and the heel was sexy, and the men loved it.

Of course, the men didn't feel the pain! That sort of deformation was horrific. Walking on broken toes, the unnaturalness of the bent foot, the deformation of the muscles and bones...Does not sound like a party to me. The feet were bound very tightly, and rebound every two days, to make the feet as small as possible. Not only was it painful, but it was dangerous. All sorts of infections could occur, ranging from ingrown toenals to fungus in between the odd creases. Girls died from this process. And if they did survive, every step they took for the rest of their lives was painful.

This practice was quite common for more than four hundred years. Finally, in the early 1900s, the Chinese government officially banned foot-binding, and it soon ended, bringing relief to women all over the country. But the reason it took this long to end was because foot-binding was considered extremely important in showing a woman's character. If she could survive this, she could survive childbirth. It also made her meek and obedient, ideal in a Chinese wife. And the smaller the bound foot, the better the life for the woman, because it would create a marriage with a man of high standing. And it was great for the man too, because his wife couldn't run very far very fast without falling over.

Throughout the centuries, there were one or two voices that spoke up against foot binding. But it's hard to protest against thousands of people who don't listen because they want to follow tradition. Men wouldn't marry an unbound woman. And a woman who wasn't married was worthless, a burden on her family. What else to do but try to survive the pain? No pain, no gain, right?

It's scary to think what women went through for fashion. Everyone knows about corsets and the damage they caused in the name of beauty, but I for one had not heard much about foot binding until recently. And what I learned was so shocking, that I will never (at least for the next few weeks) complain about high heels again!

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Comments 7 comments

Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 8 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

Foot binding is not something we western women think about. Maybe we see it in photos or paintings of Chinese women, and we accept it as *the way it was*.

This practice was instituted for the sole purpose of hobbling and subjugating women. I remember seeing a documentary not too long ago that stated there are still women alive today whose feet were bound in this horrific tradition.

Thanks, Kuhlcat, for bringing this ancient and still surviving practice to our attention.

As for today's high heels, wear them at your risk. Funnebone on HubPages has written some interesting hubs on feet and the body structure that supports them. These hubs are well worth looking at.

Welcome to HubPages!


Emily 7 years ago

An interesting book of fiction based on foot binding: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, by Lisa See. I enjoyed a lot!!


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London

it's such a horrible, crippling thing.


mandybeau profile image

mandybeau 7 years ago

That was always, something I thought of as torture-Ghastly, the photo somehow made it more real


Dee-Dee 7 years ago

That foot binding thing is horrible. That's messed up. Guys always get the easy way out!


Zenia 6 years ago

is it still practised today?

is it only typical to chinese culture?


Gabby 4 years ago

In more poorer and people living in poverty regions and areas, women and girls still suffer because of the traditional Chinese culture that scarred females for life......literally!!!!!!

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