Bound Feet in China is Gone–Here is Proof it Once Existed

China’s Shockingly Painful Foot Binding Tradition And Its Last Survivors.

Cynthia Cordoba found this on the web.  Thanks for submitting this article.


Imagine fitting a 3-inch-long (7.62 cm) shoe. For 88-yeard-old Zhang Yun it’s nothing special as she is one of the last remnants of China’s infamous food binding tradition. Her toes were broken when she was just a little girl and then constantly bound to make them smaller.

Photographer Jo Farrell met Zhang Yun back in 2010. Ever since, she’s been working on her ongoing project “Living History” which captures the lives of last foot-binding survivors. As the women are slowly passing away, Farrell felt imperative to focus on documenting their lives before it’s too late.

Foot binding tradition in China was introduced by the Song Dynasty back in 10th century.

Tiny feet were considered to be the symbol of beauty and social status.

The ideal foot size was set to be no bigger than 3 to 4 inches.

Young women would choose to crush their feet hoping to marry into money.

Bound feet were also referred to as “lotus feet”.

Because the feet were concealed from men’s eyes, it even instigated an erotic approach.

The practice of such mutilating tradition was banned in 1912 by Chinese government.

The witnesses of history’s cruelty.

Talk about beauty standards, right? (via Huffington Post)


7 responses to “Bound Feet in China is Gone–Here is Proof it Once Existed

  1. I can say how ridiculous this looks and was but i thought to myself, “hmm i want plastic surgery on my nose”. Now I am pretty sure in china that is absurd as for here is just plastic surgery to physically “fix” ones insecurities. Even though it is painful to watch these images and seems just insane, but perhaps us getting plastic surgery is just as disturbing to china as we see the tradition of foot binding in china.

  2. This was so painful to see, it literally made me uncomfortable to the point where I had to scroll quickly through them. Some cultures have some extremely bizarre practices. What on earth were they doing? I can’t imagine walking on my pinky toes all today just to impress a rich man. But then again, I also can’t imagine why women choose to wear ridiculous heels to look sexier. When you’re met with an emergency, or you ever need to run from someone, your shoes should allow you to function. Practicality and comfort > fashion trends

  3. Seeing these pictures on feet gave me the chills, this is not my first time hearing about this old custom called feet bounding tradition. When I was in elementary school I was very fond of learning about history and foreign countries cultures. I watched a movie about China and a time period where an American woman went to China in the quest to help Chines women. I remember seeing these women who had bonded feet wobble when they walked, it looked strange and painful. Eventually the story goes that she help a hundred or so girls run away so they didn’t have to bond there feet.

  4. There are many countries where traditions are consistently carried out. This tradition of foot binding is another outcome of improving physical beauty. At the time, it seemed like it was the cool thing to do and all your friends were probably doing it, but looking at it as apart of the young generation in the 21st century, this is weird. It’s odd to see this tradition happen and to see that people praised it and thought it was something physically attractive. Another example I’ve seen to mutilate one’s physical appearance is the Artificial Cranial Deformation used during the times when Mayan tribes existed. It’s “a form of body alteration in which the skull of a human being is intentionally deformed. It is done by distorting the normal growth of a child’s skull by applying force.”

  5. It is unbelievable to think that foot binding was once a common torturous tradition that families would support. I can only imagine the pain and agony that these young girls encountered while trying to fit right in, and had no say whatsoever. As a parent, I do not see myself ever supporting something so horrendous and painful to my child. EVER!

  6. Seeing the pictures of these poor Chinese Women’s feet makes me cringe. I can almost feel how painful it must have been to crush their feet for beauty. I can’t stand to wear tight shoes, so I can’t imagine the pain they went through to make their feet 3-4 inches long. Every society looks at beauty in a different way, but I guess the saying “beauty is pain” exists all over the world.

  7. This a is terrific documentary. As I said, I’m probably one of the last to ever see any of these women with the deformed feet. When I was a small child my father had a frriend we called Chinese Charlie because my dad’s name was Charlie too. I was probably four or five years old when our family friend Chinese Charlie explained to me the history of this practice. After that, when ever I was a my dad’s store, I would be especially courteous to these older ladies and was so pleased no one was doing this to me.

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