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Foot Binding.

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Foot Binding. Throughout history the human population has done many obtuse things in the name of physical beauty. These methods range from fairly simple and inoffensive (such as make up) to extremely the horrific (lipo-suction and foot binding). Foot binding in China is basically exactly what the name suggests. The binding happens to young girls from the ages of three to seven years of age. Sometimes even later than this if the girl was needed to help her family, as many peasant girls did. The purpose of foot binding was to stop the growth of the feet, as small feet were prized in China. As was said earlier the biding of the feet usually began between the ages of three and seven. Ideally three was the best age as the bones of the foot would not have fully developed and would allow the foot longer to change its shape. To bind the foot a bandage ten feet long and two inches wide was used. The foot of the girl was bathed in hot water containing herbs and then was massaged. What happened next was that all of the toes, except for the first, were broken, turned under and pressed to the sole of the foot. The foot was then bound tightly with the cloth strips. Next the arches of the feet were broken so that the foot could be pulled straight with the leg and so shortening the distance between the toes and the heel. ...read more.


A third fable says that women took up binding their feet out of sympathy towards an empress with "club feet". One other legends says that the last emperor of the Tang dynasty, Tang Li Yu, allegedly ordered his concubines to dance in front of him in bound feet on top of a "golden lily platform". The binding of feet instantly became a symbol of feminine beauty and that of royal approval. There is also a legend that says that a prince had a fetish for small feet and ordered his concubines to bind their feet to make them as small as possible. It is not unlikely that foot binding began in any one of these fabled stories. The origin of foot binding is not altogether clear or known. Foot binding stopped concubines and wives of the rich from straying or running away from being beaten. Confucian teachings at this time stressed the superior status of men over women as a basic element of social order. This method certainly proved itself as an effective restraint. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that this is one of the main reasons that foot binding became a custom. Over the years having bound feet was of major importance to a girl who wished to marry well. Marrying well was what Chinese parents wanted the most, as it meant that the family could gain 'face' and maybe move higher up in the social hierarchy Also the richer the groom's family, the more they would pay the bride's family. ...read more.


In America not so long ago, small feet were also the fashion. Women would go out and buy shoes that were several sizes too small and squash their feet in so that it appeared as if their feet were much smaller than they actually were. Although this was not binding, it must have caused some deformities in the feet. In effect, could this have been the modern western equivalent to Chinese foot binding? Even though foot binding in China was prohibited, many women whose feet had been bound for even a few years were unable to relinquish their feet. This was because as the foot had been broken, contorted and constricted into that shape for so long, that to release the foot now would increase the level of pain. The only outlet for the pain of bound feet was to soak the feet in either hot or cold water. I am not sure that I could ever imagine having bound feet or the pain of it. I can't help thinking of this custom as being barbaric and without any sensible aim. However, then I wonder why foot binding was tolerated for so many years, not just decades but over one thousand years. In conclusion I will leave you to find your own view on the subject of foot binding. Most likely you will feel that foot binding is most definitely not a good thing. This opinion could be because this piece of writing is unfortunately biased. A bound foot, without the bindings or a slipper. Hanna Cheung ...read more.

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