Three Inch Golden Lotuses
If you missed the story on Morning Edition, go read about the last remaining women in China with bound feet here.
Foot binding has always fascinated me. In part because I couldn't imagine how anyone could do something like that. even wearing too tight shoes bothered me (I buy size 7 shoes usually and thought this was my shoe size up until about four years ago when I found out that I have a size 6 1/2 foot. I like having extra space.) At a young age, the knowledge of foot binding established a line which I knew I would never cross for beauty. Not that I understood making sacrifices for beauty when I was only six or seven. I believed everyone was beautiful and everyone had the bodies they were supposed to have and I wasn't aware that one could make modifications if they so desired. I remember I used to watch my mother put on makeup and I used to think she was so much more beautiful before any makeup went on; that I eventually began to see her as more attractive with makeup on says less about how my mother has aged than it does about how well I have internalized societal norms. I started to see people the way society wanted me to see them, I started to see myself the way I imagined society saw me. I was no longer the girl who climbed trees, I was the woman who was positive that all anyone saw when they looked at her were her thighs. So now I can understand foot binding. I can see how a mother living in a society with only one option for females, believing that it is her daughter's only chance at marital success, would wrap the bandages and break her child's foot. We do it here, today, except the bandages are invisible and the part of our children which we crush is the spirit and, oftentimes, we do it in spite of our best efforts to do otherwise.