The attraction of torture

I am fascinated by the idea that the ancient practice of foot-binding might be used in a story as a metaphor for our current obsession with having small, lean bodies.

Today, in the course of some research I found this clipping [Chinese Footbinding] in the Western Mail (Perth) from Saturday 20 June 1903.

foot binding{source}

It would seem that although foot-binding was considered “dreadful” in 1903, the practice of binding internal organs inside a corset was perfectly okay.

I believe foot-binding, corsetry and today’s diet and exercise culture all amount to the same thing – the minimising of one’s natural physical attributes in order to be more attractive and more respected.

Do you agree?

About KatieP

Embracing my midlife sexy while exploring modern love & relationships • Devoted to all things beautiful • Master of Arts in creative writing & non-fiction writing

4 thoughts on “The attraction of torture

  1. Wow. Insightful observation….thank you for sharing it. I think we could well look back on this era with awe and disgust. In fact, I hope we do.

  2. I’m afraid I don’t really agree. Foot binding was inflicted on young girls (often aged as young as 6), and involved agonising bone breakage; mutilation and a lifetime of infection and pain. It also crippled every child it was done to, irreversibly, and rendered them unable to walk more than a few paces.
    Nothing the Western world asks is compulsory, nor is it deliberately inflicted upon children in the same way. I understand the analogy of our culture pressuring children and adults, but there is the choice to opt out. It is also possible (although difficult) for many to conform and stay healthy (although not all, by any means). I don’t wish to downplay the impact of modern cultural pressure, but I don’t feel footbinding is the right analogy. Corseting itself is a better analogy. Socially pressured, universally promoted by popular media, but you can take it off!

    1. Thank you for your valid point. I agree that the abusive compulsory nature of foot-binding is nothing like a person’s freedom to decide whether to conform to the ‘thin ideal’ or not. I will think on this some more.

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