Known as Golden Lotus, they were ideal, three-inch-long feet created by binding and breaking the foot bones of Chinese girls when they were 3 and 4 years old. The practice began among the women of the imperial court and spread throughout China in the 10th and 11th centuries. Millions of children were subjected to agonizing bindings, infections and deformities in an effort to create tiny feet that were symbols of great beauty.
Some scholars say the practice was a cultural phenomenon that kept women close to home, subject to scrutiny and out of public life. Others say men were attracted by the swaying gait the women adopted to walk on their painful knobby feet. Whatever its genesis, the practice of foot binding persisted for generations, and the legacy of those years could be seen even recently among old Chinese women unable to walk or stand.
What a shock, then, to read about modern American women who are electing to have foot surgery so they can wear designer shoes. In a kind of modern-day foot binding process, women are seeking procedures to thin their big toes or plump out the pads of their feet or shorten their middle toes. One woman, according to a New York Times story, asked to have her pinkie toe removed to accommodate a really nice pair of black patent pumps.
According to the story, New York City doctors are performing procedures on women worried about “toebesity” and seeking “toe tucks” and “foot face lifts.” One California doctor said he initially thought the women seeking foot surgery were, in his words, “superficial and shallow,” but he came to see that “she needs these shoes to project confidence.” I came to see that this was pure B.S. I’m quite sure he also came to see quite a profit in the Sarah Jessica Parker wannabe crowd.