Recently I read that there were women, yes in 2012, who were surgically shaving down their toes so that they could fit better and more comfortably in their Manola Blahniks. I was shocked, almost disgusted, which some might argue that my indignation to this practise comes from the fact that I have extremely small feet. People think that I never had problems finding or looking nice in heels (well that is not always the case sometimes it´s actually reversed) but that´s besides the point, really. The fact is, I bemoaned at how vain and shallow this world is today, only to find out after some research that maybe I actually had my foot in my mouth on this matter.
You see Footbinding existed a very long time ago. It produced back then the so-called ‘lily’ feet or ‘lotus’ feet effect once very common in China. Women today may shave down their toes a little bit but this was probably one of the most cruellest forms of foot torture ever invented. Were we always this crazy over shoes? Footbinding first became fashionable in China around the eighth century and persisted suprisingly for almost a thousand years. Women were literally crippled by this custom.
A noble woman in Imperial China with normal feet was practically unmarriageable (they really took it seriously). Only peasants had normal feet, because they needed to get about in the fields and work. A real lady showed her status by staggering around in agony or having someone carry her!
While still a small a rich girl had her feet soaked in a bath of urine (you read right) and vinegar, then all the toes except the big one were folded under the foot, and secured with tight bandages. This soaking and binding process would continue throughout the girl’s childhood, with the result that the feet never grew more than three inches long. Wow, we sure have come a long way baby.
So who am I to judge shaving down tiny toes in the name of Blahniks, that´s right, no one!