Feet are wonderful and complex structures. Containing a quarter of all the body’s bones, they are strong and versatile. Despite this, I used to catch myself staring at my father’s feet as a child, thinking — Why is his second toe so much longer than his first toe? Why doesn’t he just put some socks on? Get those things away from me! It makes me laugh when I think of these moments. I wonder where this (to an extent) phobia came from. Why do so many of us dislike our feet and others?
It’s hard to say when or where the foot taboo started. In Thailand and other Asian countries, feet are considered the lowest and dirtiest part of the body, because they are close to the ground. There are spiritual and religious reasons behind this idea, and showing or pointing feet in some countries is considered an insult or even an offence! Because feet (or feet in shoes) touch the ground, they are often viewed in a negative light. However, think about how often we use our hands — feet are usually remarkably cleaner than the average pair of hands!
Feet sweat just like the rest of our bodies, and if not looked after hygienically, then yes, they will smell! This is a possible contributor to our foot views, but think about it — it’s ridiculous! It’s the same as saying arms are taboo, or a person’s face. I would never turn my nose up at a face! Feet are beautiful, normal parts of us and we certainly wouldn’t get very far without them. Well, we could try, but I wouldn’t make any bets!
Some don’t like the look of their feet, but our hands, eyes and entire bodies come in an array of shapes and sizes. Why are feet considered any different? It could have some Chinese influence. Foot binding began in the 10th century as tiny feet were favoured, and continued on until the 19th century. Girls would have their feet bound between the ages of four and six, and would occur in a ritualistic ceremony accompanied by other traditions intending to ward off bad luck. The horrific procedure entailed bending the girls' toes underneath the sole, using very long ribbons to wrap their feet all the way to the ankle. The idea was to keep breaking the foot whenever it grew too large, a process that usually took between two and three years. The feet would then be bound (and deformed) for the rest of their lives. I am incredibly grateful for my unique, strong, free-moving feet and wouldn’t trade them for anything! You can breathe now.
I don’t know why I screwed my face up at my father’s feet (sorry Dad). It was probably just because they looked different to mine! Then again, I was a child. Having come to terms with my own feet now, I have no problems with other peoples. My partner’s feet are my favourite pair in the world! You heard me. They’re perfect.
Feet are clever, too! They can’t see the future or suggest ice cream flavours, but they can mirror our general health. Arthritis, diabetes, nerve and circulatory disorders can show their initial symptoms in the feet. It’s like your own personal alarm system! Pretty nifty, yes?
When you think about it, foot taboos are rather silly. I am grateful, happy and proud to show mine off! When cared for properly, feet are stunning to look at, soft to touch and always eager to carry you to your next destination. ‘The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art.’ Love your feet! Thanks to them, you have an incredible amount of freedom and versatility in life. So reach inside your shoe, and end the foot taboo!