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Old 12 May 2007, 09:44 PM
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Icon07 So you want little feet?

The things people do for BEAUTY!

The results of Japanese foot binding…

Can you say DEFORMED!!!

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This is an ancient Chinese custom called foot binding. It was banned in 1911 because of the sever disabilities done to women’s feet. I think they should call it an Ancient Chinese Fool! How DUMB to think you would gain ANYTHING by walking around in some darn baby shoes and you are a grown woman!!! FOOLISHNESS!

This is what Chinese People thought was sexy - the pictures hurt to look at!

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For centuries, before the communist revolution, the custom was to bind little girls' feet at the age of 5. A mother would be forced to dip strips of cloth into a hardening mixture, and wrap their daughter's feet with just enough room inside to wiggle the toes. She would wrap the foot from the ankle down. The little girl would walk around in her new shoes with no pain for about six months. Then the pain would start in -- small at first, then to the point of the little girl crying from excruciating pain roughly 9 months after binding. This pain would come and go, depending on if she was in a growth spurt, until the girl was 18 years old. The binding would be removed, which would expose her deformed 6" long feet. The toes would be curled underneath, and they would be the shape of an ostrich egg.

Why was this done? For beauty and control. To keep women under control -- they could not run from an abusive husband. Houses would have a 12" high board across all the doors. It was a way of keeping women in the house; it would be painful to step over the boards. The way the women would walk around the house was to shuffle their feet (sorta like walking on ice). The beauty -- the feet binding was a status symbol; done in the houses of nobility. The belief was that the bigger the feet, the uglier the girl. The only way a girl could escape this torture is if she were born into a poor family (i.e., needed to work in the fields). Feet binding was abolished at the beginning of the communist revolution. Mao's wife escaped the binding when she was 6 years old; she cut off the bindings and ran away from home.
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Old 12 May 2007, 09:53 PM
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I don't know about the description, but the pictures are indeed real. I've seen at least one documentary on the History Channel about the process, and many of the women who have suffered it have been photographed for cultural and medical texts.
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Old 12 May 2007, 10:06 PM
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That's weird, I thought I posted this already...

Just came in to say that footbinding wasn't a Japanese practice.
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Old 12 May 2007, 10:11 PM
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I'd heard of foot-binding from reading Pearl Buck, but I'd never seen what the results looked like.
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  #5  
Old 12 May 2007, 10:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snopes View Post
The results of Japanese foot binding…



This is an ancient Chinese custom called foot binding.
Did the person who added the introduction at the top read the essay? Oy. China and Japan are not the same place, folks.

As to the photos, I see no reason to disbelieve them. Foot binding was formerly practised in China, the woman looks old enough to have been subject to it, and the pictures of her feet are consistent with what I've seen of bound feet in the past.

The essay itself is a little odd. There are some minor, though not particularly consequential, inaccuracies in it*, but the level of outrage at something that hasn't been legal for almost a century, and which hasn't, AFAICT, even been something practised illicitly for most (if not all) of that time seems....well out of proportion. The level of outrage displayed in this seems like it would be better served directed toward ongoing atrocities.

* For example, it mentions the 1911 ban, but goes on to imply that it was imposed by the Communist government, which wouldn't take power until much later.
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Old 12 May 2007, 10:30 PM
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Tsk, Tsk

In my Chinese history class last quarter, my teacher (who has immigrant Chinese parents) said that she didn't know anyone with bound feet that was under 80 years old.

Sister "kind of missing the boat for outrage" Ray
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  #7  
Old 12 May 2007, 10:44 PM
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Those are real pictures. IIRC that was one of the women on a fairly recent documentary, as Cervus said.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kamino Neko View Post
Did the person who added the introduction at the top read the essay? Oy. China and Japan are not the same place, folks.
Well, you know, they all look alike. [/sarcasm]

Quote:
As to the photos, I see no reason to disbelieve them. Foot binding was formerly practised in China, the woman looks old enough to have been subject to it, and the pictures of her feet are consistent with what I've seen of bound feet in the past.
In the documentary I saw recently, there was actually a group of old women who were foot-bound, and they meet together regularly. They showed one such meeting - I'm fairly sure that was one of them. Since there are only a few of them left, there is only one shoemaker who they can all go to to have shoes specially made to fit their feet. They used to make all sorts of highly decorative shoes for bound feet but naturally since the practice has long been banned the shoemakers have sort of dropped off.
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Old 12 May 2007, 10:48 PM
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actually, if memory serves, the foot was actually broken and then tied. No "room to wiggle"

Historically, they are fascinating. Neither beautiful, or ugly. That being said. Thank DOYC it's no longer required.
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Old 12 May 2007, 11:10 PM
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I'm not sure what the point is of such righteous outrage, so long after the fact. The tone of the top comment is just ignorant. I can't quite figure out the point of the essay at the end, unless it's promoting communism as a boon to feminism.

The photos are fascinating, but the commentary is mildly offensive in its ethnocentricity.
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Old 12 May 2007, 11:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by qualli View Post
actually, if memory serves, the foot was actually broken and then tied. No "room to wiggle"
That was my understanding of it as well. Not to mention wiggling toes with a broken foot is not really feasible; but you can see those toes are mushed in so firmly they weren't wiggling anyway.

I don't see the point of the commentary either, except the little reference to the old commercial about Calgon, which is a little bit funny. Not that they were trying to be funny.
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Old 12 May 2007, 11:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by We'veBeenHad View Post
I don't see the point of the commentary either, except the little reference to the old commercial about Calgon, which is a little bit funny.
I searched the page for "Calgon" and can't find anything except your post. What's the reference in the commentary about Calgon?

ETA: Psst! WBH! High five for the sig line!
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  #12  
Old 12 May 2007, 11:57 PM
We'veBeenHad
 
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Thanks! I love that site

There was a commercial campaign when I was growing up about Calgon, that would have someone going into a Chinese laundry and asking how on earth they got those clothes smelling so clean and fresh. The Chinese launderer would say, "That's ancient Chinese secret!" His wife would call from the back, "Hey honey, we need more Calgon!" The customer would turn to the sheepish launderer and say reprovingly, "Ancient Chinese SEcret, huhhhh?" The first Wayne's World movie referenced it too, with that exact line. In the 70s there were only 3 real channels (and a handful of locals, and PBS) and commercials ran pretty much throughout our entire childhoods, so we know them all by heart

OOooooh I found one! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojm1Xzwlc9Q
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Old 13 May 2007, 12:06 AM
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Ah! Ok. I missed it. I tried Find on this page both calgon and "secret". I should have tried "ancient" and I'd have found it. I'm not sure the author meant it that way, though.

You and I grew up in the same era .
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  #14  
Old 13 May 2007, 12:36 AM
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Wikipedia's article on foot binding states
Quote:
In 1911, the Republic of China government banned foot binding; women were told to unwrap their feet lest they be killed. Some women's feet grew 1/2 - 1 inch after the unwrapping, though some found the new growth process extremely painful and emotionally and culturally devastating. Societies developed to support the abolition of footbinding, with contractual agreements between families promising their infant son in marriage to an infant daughter that would not have her feet bound. When the Communists took power in 1949, they maintained the strict prohibition on footbinding, which is still in effect today.
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  #15  
Old 13 May 2007, 12:37 AM
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Cool It's not nice to fool mother nature Hehe. (If there's ever a thread about 70s commercial jingles please let me know because I've got like 8 million of them, including the ones Barry Manilow wrote )

On topic, here is one example of the beautiful shoes I was talking about - I don't think it was the "foot" that was considered beautiful, but the size (which made a woman walk in an exaggeratedly "feminine" way, supposedly) and the expensive shoes they would put on them - http://www.willamette.edu/~juwen/Small%20shoes.jpg

ETA: Here's a link that says something about those wiggling toes -
Quote:
Between the ages of four to seven, the foot binding process occurred, and young girls would have to sit as a strip of bandage ten feet long and two inches wide was wrapped tightly around the foot. The four small toes were broken and bent under the sole. The arch of the foot was indented to make the foot appear smaller, a symbol of beauty and wealth. The bandage was tightened each day and a girl's foot was put into smaller and smaller shoes until the desired three-inch feet were formed. The process took two years, and by the time it was finished, the foot was useless for walking.
http://tinyurl.com/3ya9do

Can't wiggle broken toes.
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Old 13 May 2007, 01:21 AM
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My ancient history teacher in high school bought in a pair of the shoes for us to look at and they are very beautiful, just unfortunate the amount of pain the women had to go through to be able to wear them.
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  #17  
Old 13 May 2007, 02:38 AM
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Royalty

This biography (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wild_Swans) describes foot binding and waht happened in Mao's China to women who had suffered this practice.
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  #18  
Old 13 May 2007, 05:21 AM
Troberg Troberg is offline
 
 
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Quote:
actually, if memory serves, the foot was actually broken and then tied. No "room to wiggle"
It's a large country with many different customs, especially at that time. It may be that both practices existed.
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Old 13 May 2007, 09:48 AM
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I may be way off here, but I recall hearing that those tiny feet meant that the woman was so rich and/or powerful that she didn't have to walk, or work. Because I can imagine that walking has to be difficult with feet bound like that.

Edit: This site has some info about foot binding, and it states that it first was a custom of the royalty, then the wealthy and then of women of all social classes.
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Old 13 May 2007, 08:00 PM
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How do you wash it? I mean, can you get in under those toes? Ew.
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