We all are parts of various cultures that either we were brought up in or adopted later in our lives by getting inspired. Cultures are beautiful but like the two sides of a coin, they have their bad aspects too. They can pave your pathway to your destination so that you don't face any unnecessary hurdles and they can even make your life miserable and in some cases — lame and immobile.
This was the life spent by 80% of the women in China who moulded their foot to be lotus-shaped to be considered culturally beautiful and noble by status.
Sun Choi Ngo Chu is a 95-year-old woman who is one of the very few unknown survivors of foot-binding culture. Her mother bound her foot when she was only seven years old. The procedure is as painful as anything painful can be. The mother would crush the bones of the little girls and then bind them in a bandage so that the bones would form their lotus shape.
Sun Choi Ngo Chu kept her foot bound like that after marriage as well but her husband didn't care about this beauty ritual and she herself wasn't interested in doing any mobile work. So, she decided to take off her bandage for the rest of her life. But, in an interview she said:
It was my mom that kept telling me that I have to have my feet bound. So, I had my feet bound. But now I kind of regret it because the bound feet actually cause a lot of pain.
The pain of taking them off is quite unbearable. It is equal to you folding your arm’s lower part in a V-shape for the rest of your life. Just imagine how painful it will be!
But fortunately, Sun Choi Ngo Chu later in her life went through multiple foot surgeries and now she is finally learned how to take a stroll in the park at the age we consider walking as just another activity we do, rather than a blessing we have.
Origin of Lotus-Shaped Foot
At the time of the Southern Tang Dynasty, Emperor Li Yu made a beautiful 6 feet tall golden lotus decorated with precious stones and pearls and asked his favourite concubine Yao Niang to bind her feet in pure white silk and dance on the points of her feet on the lotus.
The dance was so loved by the spectators that they wanted to copy the tradition of the palace. Thus, the foot-binding was imitated by the upper-class women and so, it spread far across, all over the country.
The Painful Process
The process was usually carried out between the age of 4 to 6 when the bones are prematurely formed and are just pre-bone cartilage. They are relatively easier to break and mould. The practice begins by submerging feet in either lukewarm water or a concoction of herbs and nuts. All the toes except the first big toe were crushed and tightly wrapped in a bandage. Then, after every two days, the feet were unwrapped and cleansed and manicured and then re-bound to continue the cycle.
Was it Sexism?
Not really. As Sun Choi Ngo Chu said that her mother made her bind her feet, not any man, her husband was not even interested in that tradition.
Very unfortunately, the reason that such traditions occur is not beauty and nobility but the mindset of the people whom you consider your own, your family, the people of your own gender, class, and status.
It Happens Today Too And No One Stops It
What! This is a human rights violation of freedom! It is impossible to do such a thing in the 21st century!
The bitter reality is that the Chinese culture of Foot-Binding has stopped but the act of people especially women abusing themselves for the sake of achieving the unrealistic perfect beauty standards continues. Even though perfectionism is having flaws, not throwing them away.
A lawn with no bugs will never grow because the flaw of it not being perfectly clean gives it the benefit of the flowers being fertilized. The same goes for human physicality and even mentality. The Vogue interview of Kim Kardashian is an example of utter perfectionism but she has lost the naturality of her self. The Kardashian family simply has the money to help them overcome the insecurities we all as humans go through.
And the reason for such things to be continued to a never-ending period is also not accepting one’s self because between all the hustle of this world, we often forget to look at ourselves with our own eyes.
Let us stop the Chinese Foot-Binding of the 21st century and also help others to do so. Remember
You are born to real, not to be perfect. — Ralph Marston