Chinese foot binding of women, particularly among the wealthy classes, was a common practice for many centuries. Foot binding was one of the most painful “beauty” practices ever conceived. The foot was broken and bound when a girl was 2-5 years of age, before the arch had fully developed.
The feet were bound for life, periodically being unbound, washed and beaten to keep the bones broken. Small bound feet were considered highly erotic in China for nearly a thousand years. Fondling a woman’s bound feet in China was the equivalent of fondling a woman’s breasts in Western society.
Without bound feet, a woman could not marry anyone in the higher classes and would be confined to the lower classes. A woman with bound feet was often confined to the home because of the great difficulty in walking.
Such women often needed the support of someone else when standing. Although binding feet was not done in all parts of China, this grotesque practice was finally outlawed by the Chinese government in 1911.