Legend has it that lotus or lily foot slippers first appeared in China in the 11th century when Empress Taki was born with deformed feet. To save her future embarrassment, her father announced that only women with very small feet could be truly feminine and desirable. As a result women began to bind their feet. The tiny, virtually unusable feet were a mark of status, beauty, gentility and sexual attractiveness.
The binding process began at age 5 to 7 years old. Bandages were wrapped around the foot to bend the four smaller toes inward under the foot towards the heel until it resembled a half moon.The majority of young girls had their feet bound by their mothers. Binding a daughters feet would ensure she would be married and hopefully to a wealthy man. The intial process of binding the feet took just one night but the feet took years of pain to conform into the beautiful crescent shape. During a painful 2-3 year period, the size of the shoe was gradually reduced. The most highly desired goal being a size only three inches in length.
These silk shoes only measure 140mm (5½ inches) in length and 24mm (1 inch) in width...
Footbinding was horribly painful. In asking why women would do this we need to understand the history behind the practice. Then we can begin to answer our questions as to why a painful tradition would continue to exist for so long.
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