Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Foot Binding

by ShaoLan

Foot Binding: What woman do in the name of beauty

Do you like these pretty handmade shoes? They are incredible, aren’t they? Every time I go to the popular tourist destination in Taiwan, China or Hong Kong, I have mixed feeling when I see these beautiful, colourful tiny shoes. Those are not shoes for children. They are for fully grown women in ancient China.

When I was a lttle girl, I used to be curious with my great grandma’s feet. She was one of the many women who had their feet bound by her parents. The practice of foot binding had been a tradition in China since the Song Dynasty (960AD). The practice, which was begun at the age of 5, prevented girl’s feet from growing longer than 3 inches.

Ancient Chinese poets named these bound feet ‘golden lotus’ to describe, what they considered, their perfect miniature beauty. ‘Golden lotus feet’ were considered highly erotic in Chinese culture, and a woman with perfect lotus feet was much more likely to make prestigious marriage. Even worse, sex manuals published in Qing Dynasty list 48 different ways of playing with women's golden lotus feet. (You should see my face when I am writing this paragraph…)

These bound feet were considered the height of refinement and no middle or upper class woman would have been accepted in her society without them. However the strong bindings, which resulted in broken and mutilated feet (which often became infected), meant that the majority of women who undertook this practice were left unable to walk or properly stand for the rest of their lives. Girls, if they could walk at all, did so as if they were going to fall over with every step they took.

Ironically, only girls from the working classes were free from this torture (though they might have considered themselves unlucky at the time) as they were needed in the farm or domestic service.

Have a look at this on Wikipedia. My blood is boiling when I think about my great grandma and how she was treated by her society.

-- ShaoLan