What would you be willing to do to Enhance your Beauty?

February 10, 2016

According to historical accounts, foot binding appeared in China during the Sung Dynasty (960-1276 AD).

The process of foot binding often started between the ages of four and seven. Feet were soaked in a blood and herb mixture. Toes were broken. Then the arch was broken. There was extreme pain since no pain relief was used. It is estimated that in a thousand years about two billion women went through the process.

Manchu women did not bind their feet, and the Manchu leaders of the Qing Dynasty (1644 to 1911 AD) attempted, but with little success, to stop foot binding among the mostly Han (the majority in China) women who continued the practice.

In 1928, the Nationalist government announced plans to do away with foot binding. This attempt to end foot binding met with mixed success. In rural areas, large feet were still considered unattractive and unacceptable and the practice of foot binding continued.

While working in China for National Geographic Magazine on a three part Marco Polo series, Michael Yamashita, a veteran photographer, went in search of women who had bound feet. He found them living in remote urban villages. Yamashita’s book Marco Polo: A Photographer’s Journey was published April 5, 2011.

Even in 19th century San Francisco, there were Chinese girls and women with bound feet. Source: Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco

In most of China, like all countries, social and sexual customs resist rapid change. For millions of women, the practice would continue until 1949 when the Chinese Communist Party came to power under Mao. That is when the popularity of foot binding to enhance a woman’s beauty—according to the men who wanted women to suffer for what they thought was beauty—ended.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

#1 - Joanna Daneman review posted June 19 2014

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China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


China’s Bound-Feet Women

February 7, 2012

According to historical accounts, foot binding appeared in China during the Sung Dynasty (960-1276 AD).

The process of foot binding usually started between the ages of four and seven. Feet were soaked in a blood and herb mixture. Toes were broken. Then the arch was broken. There was extreme pain since no pain relief was used. It is estimated that in a thousand years about two billion women went through the process.


What would you do for beauty?

The Manchu leaders of the Qing Dynasty (1644 to 1911) tried with little success to stop foot binding, and Manchu women did not bind their feet. Mostly Han (the majority in China) women continued the practice.

In 1928, the Nationalist government announced plans to do away with foot binding. This attempt to end foot binding met with mixed success. In rural areas, large feet were still considered unattractive and unacceptable and the practice continued.

While working in China for National Geographic on a three part Marco Polo series, Michael Yamashita, a veteran photographer, went in search of women who had bound feet. He found them living in remote urban villages.

Even in 19th century San Francisco, there were Chinese girls and women with bound feet. Source: Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco

In most of China, social and sexual customs resist rapid change. For millions of women, the practice would continue until 1949 when the Communists came into power.

Then the popularity of foot binding to enhance a woman’s beauty ended.

______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Note: This post first appeared November 7, 2010.


Women’s Rights in China

March 21, 2010

Dramatic changes in women’s rights have been achieved in a culture where for millennia women were stereotyped as inferior to men, had no rights and served as slaves, concubines and prostitutes. Marriages were arranged—sometimes at infancy.

In 1949, foot binding was abolished and the All-China Women’s Federation (ACWF) was formed and supported by the Communist Party. Change in China, as in the United States, has been a painful evolutionary process. However, the struggle to gain equality appears to have moved faster than the United States where the women’s rights movement started in 1848 and still isn’t over.

10th National Women’s Congress in China

At the 10th National Women’s Congress in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, in 2008, Deputy-Chairwoman Huang Qingyi said, “Sex discrimination in employment should be eradicated and the income gap between men and women should be further narrowed.”

It was also been reported that domestic violence is a severe threat to women. Chinese authorities reported 50,000 complaints annually, according to figures released by the ACWF. The domestic violence fact sheet shows this is also a problem in the United States.

Sexual discrimination was supposed to have been abolished in China back in 1949, when Chairman Mao Zedong famously announced, “women hold up half the sky”, but it wasn’t.  It has only been a few years since China outlawed sexual harassment.

Today, statistics show China has about 27,000 women and children’s rights protection agencies.

Discover Changing Times for Women’s Rights

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline