Foot binding vs. corsets vs. high heels

April 27, 2012 § Leave a comment

After presenting my research paper, our class began an interesting conversation. I had brought up the idea of foot binding as it pertains to oppression of women in China and from there a discussion was sparked about other traditions or fads being part of women oppression over the years. The first interesting thing that was brought up was corsets. I have known that corsets exist but I had never realized what they really were. I just thought they squeezed you and made it uncomfortable and hard to breath. I now know though that they actually could deform your body because they were pulled so tight. Now that I know this, I have a different view on corsets. In my opinion corsets and foot binding are fairly comparable. They both were a sign of status and the traditions had to be followed to be able to marry or fit-in in society. Both of these practices played a role in deforming a women’s body and making it difficult for her to participate in any daily activities which forced the women to rely on the man to take care of her.

Another “tradition” that was brought up, was high heels, and although the practice of wearing high heels relates to foot binding, they are in a totally different category in my opinion. High heels resemble foot binding just because they make feet look smaller and are more “attractive” to men. The difference though is high heels are a fashion statement, you can wear them and then take them off and your feet are still your normal feet. With foot binding, the women was changing her body and even when foot binding “went out of style” women were stuck with what they were forced into.

Other traditions or fads that are now or have once been popular were also brought up in class. The opinion that I have now decided about these phenomenons is that women usually have a choice and, yes, often times her choice is almost forced due to society, but any tradition that is a choice for a women is more of a fashion statement and although it is the norm, they women has a choice to make. In the case of foot binding or even corsets, women were not given the choice, I know in foot binding it started before the girl was even old enough to know what was happening or to make her own choices. I don’t know the specifics about corsets and when girls would start wearing them, but I am guessing that the girl’s family was heavily involved in the decision. I think that each of these situations are very different. Having a piercing or wearing high heels or getting a tattoo are all things that women have a choice about and even though society is a huge influence on these decisions, they are not comparable to foot binding or corsets when it comes to choice.


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