The practice of foot binding, tightly wrapping the feet of young girls in order to reshape them and prevent them from growing too large, began sometime during the ninth or 10th century in China.
Small feet on women were considered attractive in Han Chinese culture, and, over time, the practice grew increasingly extreme. In fact, by the 16th century, the foot-binding process broke the bones in young girls’ feet. The goal was to produce “lotus feet,” with the ideal feet being no longer than 4 inches. Women with lotus feet were able to only manage small steps and would sway as they walked, something considered alluring by Chinese men.
By the end of the 19th century, foot binding was deeply embedded as a cultural norm. Nearly half of all women in China and almost all upper-class Han women had their feet bound. Though a painful, debilitating, and abusive practice, having lotus feet was essential to securing a good marriage.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, John Stonestreet and Glenn Sunshine