Footbinding Photos: Chinese Tradition

Footbinding, literally “bound feet”, was an early form of cosmetic surgery practiced on young females for approximately one thousand years in China, beginning in the 10th century and ending in the early 20th century. In Chinese foot binding, young girls’ feet, usually at age 6 but often earlier, were wrapped in tight bandages so that they could not grow and develop normally; they would, instead, break and become highly deformed, not growing past 4-6 inches (10-15 cm).
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As the girl reached adulthood, her feet would remain small and dysfunctional, prone to infection, paralysis, and muscular atrophy. Footbinding was initially a common practice only in the wealthiest parts of China, particularly in areas around northern China. However, by the late Qing Dynasty, foot binding had become popular among people of all social classes except the poorest, who needed able-bodied women to work the fields. Today, footbinding is a prominent cause of disability among some elderly Chinese women.
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