Friday, February 24, 2012

Sepia Saturday 114 The Agony of De Feet

This post was written by Nancy:

When the theme for this week came up and it was "shoes", all I could think of were the lovely little shoes of the Chinese women. They were embroidered in beautiful colors, and oh, so petite.


But wait a minute. No one's feet could be that small. How did they fit into these gorgeous little shoes? Well, I suppose we all know now that their feet were bound in childhood, by wrapping and squishing until they were the proper size to fit into those little torture chambers.

When my sister and I were traveling in China way back in the 80s, we actually saw women with bound feet, even though the practice, thank goodness, had been outlawed in 1949. I doubt if there are too many more of these women hobbling along in misery.






Now who in the world came up with that idea? I'd love to know who that first person was (probably some emperor), who said "take her away, her feet are too big!" And then the binding started. If you're interested, this is a bit of information about the practice: foot binding 

It's usually men who come up with these tortuous beauty decisions. And then the women who want to please the men say to themselves "O.K., beauty knows no pain" and they follow right along and wear some pretty ridiculous footwear. 

Currently, the trend in tortuous footwear is reaching new heights (so to speak). And women are just falling (so to speak) for these new torture chambers. Here's some fine examples.


   

Have we really come so far from the days of that emperor and the binding of feet? Cmon women, are you crazy? You would actually wear these "designer" shoes?

Even experienced runway models who are used to wearing ridiculous designer get ups can't manage with these shoes. Here's my point, watch this:



And here's the thing. If you wear these, you're going to fall down and break a leg or an arm or a spine or something. These aren't safe, they're not sensible. Sure they make your legs look longer, but what good is that when one of your legs is in a cast?

Look for other Sepia Saturday stories by clicking here http://sepiasaturday.blogspot.com/.

18 comments:

Christine H. said...

When you look at the photos of the feet after binding it's hard to imagine that it would be considered beautiful...only with the shoes on. My shoes look a little matronly, but they do no harm, other than perhaps warding off suitors.

Postcardy said...

Those designer shoes would have appealed to the Nazis (see Tony's post about Nazis).

Almost all shoes hurt my feet, so I'm glad I can wear athletic shoes most of the time.!

Kristin said...

I'm so glad I can wear no shoes most of the time.

Titania said...

Yes, it is unbeievable what woman put on their feet to follow fashion. Chinese girls were tortured to retain tiny feet. Their feet would never completely heal. One word "madness"! The model could have broken her ankles. Actually many woman end up in hospital with broken bones because of ridiculous foot wear.

Karen S. said...

Oh ouch on the runway! great video...my daughter likes those really high heels...me not so much, a bit shorter please. You opened your shoes post very nicely, and the photos (especially those cloth (hardly appear like feet should go in there, right) nicely done! I can't believe all the cool and interesting and varied subjects everyone is pulling together!

Linda said...

Those small shoes for bound feet are frightening. I need to spread my toes, and my knees no longer allow for high heels!

Little Nell said...

Tragic that so many women were disabled in this way, and thank goodness the practice has stopped. Beautiful objects the shoes may have been but when adorning those tiny feet, all beauty disappears. Thank you for this informative post.

Bob Scotney said...

The Chinese were forced to bind and deform their feet. How anyone, models or whowever, can wear the modern monstrosities beats me. Accidents waiting to happen springs to mind.

Dani Jonsson Lopez said...

Oh my! That last pair of patent leather ones made me cringe!!

Food Smarts said...

I agree that the last pair are the worst. En pointe - but I bet the podiatrists love it!! Permanent employment for decades ahead.

My friend's mother was wearing high heels well into her nineties. When Merle would protest her mother replied, "Oh but Merle, they make your legs look so much better." And she was wearing them to go play bridge with her ninety year old female pals.

Not only am I now looking for flat shoes but flat shoes with those sticky gummy soles. Oh how far removed is the world of high heels and God forbid, push-up bras (for some reason I think they go together - balanced suffering, both top and bottom). How liberating it is!!

Food Smarts said...

Did you put the shoe zentangle there or did the little bloggerelves do that? Either way, it looks good.

Steph said...

Fascinating post! I was talking to my Mother-in-Law the other day about those Alexander McQueen 'claw' shoes so beloved of Lady Gaga- I never thought about the connection between those and footbinding. Food for thought!

Alan Burnett said...

What extraordinary shoes - both the old and the new. As I get older I realise more and more that a good pair of comfortable shoes is about the best you can hope for in life.

Linda@VS said...

I used to feel so sorry for older women who had to wear "sturdy" shoes instead of the colorful, high-heeled ones that were in my closet. Now I understand that those women didn't HAVE to wear those unglamorous shoes. They were making a CHOICE of comfort over fashion--a choice I've been making myself for at least the last ten years.

TICKLEBEAR said...

As I was reading your post, that video came to mind, and it came as no surprise when I saw you posted it. Indeed, women seem willing to inflict pain upon themselves, but can we really blame men for it? You could always say no.
:)~
HUGZ

Joy said...

There were, and are, some perverse customs. Despite looking so pretty the Chinese shoes make you shudder looking at the front. My friend used to call the very high heel shoes, taxi shoes, ie you didn't want to walk in them, LOL.

Wendy said...

The process of foot-binding is inhumane. It's sad that many mothers did it to their own daughters to make them more attractive to wealthy men.

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

This was super interesting, and you found some great photos to go along with the theme.

None of those HIGH heels for me, and I'm all about comfort.

Kathy M.

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