For those of you reading Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, I googled “foot binding” today and came up with this image:
During the first pages of the novel, See describes in detail what went on during this ancient practice. I had no idea. And I am fascinated. (you can join our discussion of the book here, if you’re interested.)
It is amazing to me what different cultures find beautiful. Here in the United States, we find thin blonds with suntanned skin gorgeous. Yet in some Asian countries, young women bleach their skin to make it lighter. It seems we all want what we can’t have. And while it’s true that I would go to great lengths to get my body in shape to look thinner and more appealing…I don’t think I could go to the extreme of a custom such as foot binding.
I like my big feet.
There is a line in the book that reminded me of when I was a little girl. It read, “A true lady lets no ugliness into her life. Only through pain will you have beauty…” Of course, my mother wasn’t breaking the bones in my feet…she was only pulling my ponytail so tight my eyebrows met my hair line. When she would wrap the rubber band around my hair, sometimes it hurt so badly I would cry…I remember Teta (my aunt) saying, “it’s a pain to be beautiful, isn’t it?” So when I read this part, I laughed. I guess I had no idea what real pain was!
To read more about foot binding and to read individual women’s stories, go here.