Thursday, February 16, 2012

Foot Binding

In China, a legend is told that during the late Tang Dynasty, there was a Empress with a club foot. Out of embarrassment, the Empress encouraged the court to impose a law: that women are obligated to bind their feet. For this act would, indeed, make her be considered beautiful. 

Foot binding has been a long tradition in parts of Chinese culture for thousands of years. Beginning in the Tang Dynasty during the years 618-906. The procedure spread through to the wealthy upper class between the years 920-1297. Eventually, bond feet became the 'norm' and almost every woman, during the Ming and Ching Dynasty (1368-1911) was forced to have their feet bond. Feet binding was a terribly painful and long procedure and at that time, it was considered a great honor and privilege. The goal is to create 'lotus feet', the ideal foot length; which is 3 inches long. The smaller the feet a lady has, the more suitors and better husband she will have. Since it was banned in 1911, there are many few women surviving today who have bond feet. 
The process itself is terribly disturbing. When a girl is in between the ages five and seven, there is a big traditional gathering. The woman of the house (be it a mother or grandmother, etc.) soaks the young girls feet in a mixture of herbal water and animal blood. This is suppose to clean and prevent further pain to the feet. After the toenails are cut to as low as possible, the woman begins to very tightly wrap the feet in a 2x5 cloth. While wrapping, the arch of the foot is broken, the small toes are tucked under the foot and as the girl stands, crushed by the weight. Then begins her permanent "transformation", which is followed by years of extreme pain.

Insanely, many of the women who still have bind feet have a great sense of pride. For them, it is how they grew up, their societal norms. To them, people with tiny feet were (and still are) considered more dainty and beautiful. These women are permanently stuck in a different generation's perception of beauty. This got me thinking, will this be our fate? Will our societal norms shift drastically that permanent trends like plastic surgery or tanning beds are not considered normal, or beautiful? Just a thought.

 

1 comment:

  1. It is funny how one's person deformity turned into everyone's. As society changes so does it's idea of what is beautiful and normal changes. One day in the future they will think we are cray for tattoos or something else we consider common.

    ReplyDelete