Aching for Beauty: Footbinding in China by Wang Ping

By Wang Ping

While Wang Ping used to be 9 years outdated, she secretly set approximately binding her toes with elastic bands. Footbinding had through then been outlawed in China, women’s toes “liberated,” yet at that younger age she desperately sought after the tiny ft her grandmother had–deformed and malodorous as they have been. by means of first analyzing the basis of her personal girlhood hope, Wang unleashes a desirable inquiry right into a centuries-old custom.
Aching for Beauty combines Wang’s distinctive standpoint and noteworthy literary presents in an award-winning exploration of the heritage and tradition surrounding footbinding. In getting down to demystify this reviled culture, Wang probes an striking diversity of literary references, addresses the connection among good looks and soreness, and discusses the serious woman bonds that footbinding fostered. Her complete exam of the notions of hierarchy, femininity, and fetish certain up within the culture locations footbinding in its right context in chinese language heritage and opens a window onto an interesting tradition.

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Extra resources for Aching for Beauty: Footbinding in China

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I had lost almost one inch. Such an achievement within half a month! More than I had expected. I got a longer pair of bandages and made bed slippers. After binding, I put them on so that the binding would remain tight. Five days later, I suddenly felt a sharp pain in my feet. I unbound the wrapping and saw that the fifth toes were broken and infected. I cleaned and cushioned them with cotton balls. The binding was so unbearably painful that my body trembled all over. I told myself that if I was afraid of pain, all the effort and suffering for the past half a month would be thrown away.

For if one removes the shoes and binding, the aesthetic feeling will be destroyed forever. Indeed, Chinese pornographic prints and paintings freely presented men's and women's naked bodies and genitals, yet they never crossed the boundary of baring a woman's lotus feet. Once the shoe (mask) is on, it has to be kept forever. The removal of the shoe/surface/mask is the end of eroticism. Yet death seeps through the bandages, strong and odorous, no matter how much perfumed powder a woman sprinkles on her feet.

With posterity so weakened, how can we engage in battle? I look at Europeans and Americans, so strong and vigorous because their mothers do not bind feet and therefore have strong offspring. Now that we must compete with other nations, to transmit weak offspring is perilous. (Quoted in Levy 1992, 72) Liang Qichao (1873-1929) regarded footbinding as part of the patriarchal oppression of women throughout the world: Over the vast universe and throughout the ages, political edification from the sage and virtuous was diffused like the vast seas, but not a word was said or a deed committed for the sake of woman.

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