Foot Binding

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Bound feet (X-ray).jpg

Practiced in medieval China up until the early 20th century, foot binding was the aesthetic custom of tightly wrapping an infant or young girl's feet to prohibit growth. Binding often destroyed the muscles, tissue, and bone in the feet as the child matured. Paralysis, atrophy, and broken bones were common effects. By adulthood, the woman's feet were significantly smaller (ideally less than 10cm long) and curled into themselves, resulting in a shape described as a "lotus." Foot binding was considered an indulgence of the higher classes, as the practice often led to inability to walk (or at least efficiently), something which the peasant class could hardly afford. The bound foot was also considered highly erotic by some men, similar to the way some cultures consider viewing of a woman's unbound hair. Only a husband would see the unwrapped "lotus." Foot binding was eventually banned in 1911 by the Republic of China.

More modernly, a related type of drastic foot modification is gaining popularity with toe amputation to change the shape of the foot.

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