It certainly does take us centuries to learn…

We’ve all heard the phrase, “Beauty is pain.” My question is, why does it have to be? For centuries all across the globe, through various ways, we women have tortured our bodies for the sake of beauty.  In fact, many methods of “beautification” have served not only to harm our bodies, but also to make it easier for the darker side of men to overpower us.  I want to be clear that not all men are creepy and controlling.  Most are absolutely wonderful and I couldn’t live without them.  But it would be an error to ignore the existence of such men.

What are some of these tortuous devices women have used? We all know about corsets and some of their horrific effects (broken ribs, miscarriages, fainting spells, hindered ability to run, etc.). I have seen pictures of neck rings (the purpose being to lengthen the neck).  And, of course, we are all acquainted with the many plastic surgery techniques.  Another is foot binding.

The binding of women’s feet was a common practice in China for about 1,000 years and has only been illegal for a few decades.  Usually beginning at a young and tender age (4-10), girls feet would be bound for the purpose of keeping the feet small, the ideal size being three inches long.  The phalanges of every toe aside from the big toe would be bent back and bound with a tight wrap about two inches wide.  The metatarsals would also bend, essentially bending the entire foot in half.  The wrap would be tightened every day.  Skin would die, blood and puss would ooze, sometimes gangrene and blood poisoning would set in.  The end effect was this (photo courtesy of…

Bound feet

It is quite horrendous, isn’t it.  Most of you reading this are probably thinking how awful it was to bind feet.  And yet, if you are a woman, you probably wear–or at least have worn–high heels.  While looking up information about foot biding, I noticed something strange.  On profile, especially in x-rays, bound feet are of a similar shape as modern high heels.  Shocking, no?

Some effects of wearing high heels: hammer toe, bunions, bruised/sore toes, blisters, shortened achilles tendon, knee osteoarthritis, the list goes on.  It is interesting to note that wearing high heels is detrimental to more than just your feet.  They cause damage in feet, ankles, legs, backs, and necks.  And this is not putting into consideration how many times heels have caused twisted ankles and embarrassing tumbles onto the ground.

Besides the inherent dangers of simply wearing heels, what about running capability? Amanda Bynes aptly put it in the film She’s the Man when she said of heels, “…heels are a male invention designed to make a woman’s butt look smaller….And to make it harder for them to run away.” Taking into consideration that men throughout history have also worn heels (check out that portrait of Louis XIV!), their purpose for invention was probably not to make women an easier target.  But it is a sad fact that most women wear heels, and that they are difficult to run in.

So, let us avoid the same fate as so many of our predecessors.  Let us abolish the beauty is pain slogan and instead adopt what is healthy and natural.  A real man will love a woman, not for the tortures she inflicts upon herself, but for the wondrous and sacred creature she inherently is.

2 thoughts on “It certainly does take us centuries to learn…

  1. Nicely written! For an interesting (and sad!) novel involving foot-binding, read “Snow Flower & the Secret Fan.” I feel certain you will find it in your home library.

  2. Oh, the feet. That is so shocking. I’ve never seen the bare feet after the binding process. I’ve only seen the feet in those tiny shoes. How ridiculous. How did people not see that as a problem? I’ve long been a believer of sensible shoes. If I have a heel it’s slight and roomy in the toe. I will commit to less pain for beauty’s sake! I will be more real and natural. I’m going to keep plucking my brows and shaving my leg and armpit hair but other than that I’m with you.

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