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Chinese Tradition Binds Women’s Feet To Make Them Attractive

Take a moment to imagine your six-year-old daughter’s feet and curling and squeezing her toes under her foot with the force so that her toes can break.

Imagine 10th century China and the woman in the picture above whose feet represents a marriageable lady in that century.
As beauty is limited by its society and the beholder, women with crippled feet were seen as more attractive and representative of the ideal beautiful woman.

Legend has it that Emperor Li Yu (Southern Tang of the Ten Kingdoms) created a six-foot golden lotus embellished with precious stones and pearls. Pleased with his creation, he asked his concubine Yao Niang to bind her feet in white silk into the shape of the new moon and perform a ballet-dance on the points of her feet.

89-year-old Zhou Guizhen. Photo: South China Morning Post

Her presentation evoked erotic feelings leaving the Emperor mesmerized. It soon caught on and the women elites started doing this to appear more attractive. Before the end of the century, foot-binding had become a symbol of class.


Performing the footbinding act on a young girl between the ages of four to six was necessary. This is because it was easier to convince them and teaching them gait would be achievable. To show its relevance, food binding was treated as a form of currency. As such, each foot had its own ranking:

Golden Lotus: The three-feet inch foot was the most desired of all and made them more attractive for marriage.

Silver Lotus: The four-feet inch was manageable.

Iron Lotus: The five-feet inch foot was seen as ugly and meant that a girl who had this was hardly considered for marriage.

Althoughpractisediced was stopped in the 1940s’, some women who lived during this time can be found in Yunnan.

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Chinese lotuslotus feet
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