I've just started reading a book titled 'Snow Flower and the Secret Fan' by Lisa See. It's the gripping story of a young Chinese girl and how her feet, if bound properly, could change the life of her family.
My impatience at what exactly this procedure involves sought me to search it out online, especially after reading that the arch of the foot is broken to achieve the appropriate size foot. What I discovered disturbed me.
"Binding the feet involved breaking the arch of the foot, which ultimately left a crevice approximately 5 cm (2 in) deep, which was considered most desirable. It took approximately two years for this process to achieve the desired effect; preferably a foot that measured 7–9 cm (3–3 1⁄2 in) from toe to heel". Not only were the arches of feet broken, but so were the toes, over and over again, before being folded underneath the foot and tightly bound.
You can read it yourself, here.
To say I am horrified and appalled at this is an understatement. I thought female circumcision, which is still practiced in some parts of the world was bad enough. I've always known that the Chinese used to bind women's feet, as it was considered attractive and graceful, however I had no idea the extreme measures that were taken to make the feet so small. How absolutely awful. At least this ridiculous, abusive tradition has ceased.
Below is a picture of 'lily feet'. I'm sorry, I try to be open-minded when it comes to the traditions of other races and cultures, realizing that what constitutes beauty to one, may constitute ugliness and shame to others, however this is just shocking and takes the expression 'going one step too far' (no pun intended) to a whole new level. Again, I'm sorry but I just don't understand how this could be considered beautiful:
It's unnatural and wrong, on so many levels, even wrapped up in pretty, silken slippers.