What is Foot Binding?

Did You Know?

Foot binding (also known as “lotus feet”) was the custom of applying painfully tight binding to the feet of young girls in Imperial China to prevent further growth. It is thought that the practice originated amongst the upper classes but eventually spread to all social classes. Foot binding became popular as a means of displaying status (women from wealthy families, who did not need their feet to work, could afford to have them bound) and was correspondingly adopted as a symbol of beauty in Chinese culture.

Its prevalence and practice however varied in different parts of the country. Foot binding continued until the early 20th century until it finally began to die out as a result of anti-foot binding campaigns. Foot-binding resulted in lifelong disabilities for most of its subjects, and a few elderly Chinese women still survive today with disabilities related to their bound feet.

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