Why I Used To Hate My Feet

(Picture: Khánh Hmoong)

Have you ever ever had a physique half that you just hated? A physique half that folks saved criticizing, despite the fact that it’s merely a pure a part of your physique?

I used to hate my toes once I was youthful. The rationale was due to my toes dimension. They’re bigger than the typical Asian girl’s toes, that are a tiny dimension 6 or 7 (EU 37-38), even smaller should you have a look at locations like Japan.

However, my toes are a dimension 10 (US), or 41-42 EU relying on the shoe lower. Which is regular within the U.S. or Europe, however over right here, your toes could be regarded as someplace between an abomination and a monstrosity, significantly in case you are feminine, and Chinese language.

Which was precisely the kind of response I bought rising up. Again once I was a child (my toes weren’t a dimension 10 then, however most likely greater than the typical woman), I all the time had issue getting sneakers my dimension. Once I was 9-10, my mother would all the time go to this shoe retailer to purchase sneakers for the household. I bear in mind standing by the woman’s part every time and look longingly on the Mary Janes and pumps, which had cute, female designs. As just a little woman, I didn’t perceive why I couldn’t put on them, besides that they didn’t have my dimension. As just a little woman, I believed that maybe these sneakers weren’t for me, and I wasn’t adequate for them.

Once I was 12-13, I had the first shaming encounter about my toes. I recall my mother taking me shoe buying on the neighborhood close to our dwelling. As she checked out a store, she requested the shopkeeper to get my dimension. The shopkeeper regarded at my toes, then exclaimed loudly about how massive they have been, like they have been the best abomination of mankind.

As a 12-13, I wasn’t sufficiently old to know what was occurring, in that I didn’t perceive what she was exclaiming about (my toes are massive? so?). Nonetheless, I used to be able to feeling disgrace. I felt my face flip crimson as I felt actually uncomfortable, wishing that we may simply depart. However my mother insisted that the individual get the biggest dimension for me to strive.

She did. They didn’t match.

Seeing this, the shopkeeper indignantly grabbed her sneakers and began wiping the insoles as she stated loudly, “Look, you dirtied my sneakers!” My mother simply stated that we’d try different outlets as an alternative, grabbed me, and we left.

This was the primary time I felt that one thing could possibly be incorrect with my toes. That my toes have been probably shameful, even disgusting, on this world.

Little girl wearing a flower crown, sitting on a field

(Picture: MI PHAM)

Criticisms, Insults towards My Ft

Subsequently I skilled extra incidences the place individuals would criticize me for my toes. For instance when with mates, each time sneakers/toes got here up as a subject, the women would begin evaluating their toes after which say to me, “Wow, your toes are so massive” in a derogatory approach. Ladies with smaller toes have been praised as in the event that they have been some accomplishment that that they had earned, once they weren’t.

When making an attempt to purchase some sneakers, the store assistant would look at my toes after which exclaim, “Your toes are so massive!” earlier than going, “Sorry, we don’t have your dimension.”

When at mates’ homes, individuals would typically evaluate the toes and shoe sizes of women and once more reward the women with small toes, whereas exclaiming about my toes dimension. One such remark got here from a man with greater toes than mine — we have been the identical top — however for some purpose his massive toes have been okay, however mine weren’t.

Ultimately once I was 17-18, after numerous rejections and unsolicited criticisms about my toes, I started to hate my toes. I’d resist discussions about toes in order that they wouldn’t swing into some foot-comparison train, which appeared to be widespread right here. I finished making an attempt to purchase sneakers right here (or wherever in Asia) and turned to on-line buying the place there are bigger-size sneakers. I would admire ladies who may merely strive the sneakers on show and purchase no matter they appreciated as a result of I personally struggled with shopping for sneakers of any sort in Singapore the place the biggest shoe dimension for girls was a mere 9.

My solely solace was in unisex sports activities sneakers, sandals, and — one thing I actually hated — squeezing my toes into coated sneakers that have been one dimension too small, which might outcome within the bruising of my toe nails later. Once I was with others, if I used to be barefooted, my pure response could be to curve up my toes and scrunch my toes in order that nobody would ever discover my toes.

My largest want was for my toes to vanish, to by no means get any consideration, and to cease being criticized like they have been some object.

The Stigma Towards Huge Ft

The weirdest factor is that regardless of all these feedback, my toes are literally not massive. They aren’t massive as a lot as they’re lengthy, longer than the typical Asian girl’s toes that’s. I’ve lengthy toes, the place my second toe is 0.8-0.9 cm longer than my massive toe, which then provides ½-1 dimension to my total toes dimension. Living proof: the width of my foot is slimmer than a few of my mates’ toes that are sizes 7-8, and the identical as a good friend’s foot which is a dimension 6.

It could appear that the societal stigma is extra concerning the toes size than width.

Black sand beach - Feet

Me and my mates in Langkawi (2009). I’m the one with crimson slippers. (Picture: Celestine Chua)

Huge or lengthy, it doesn’t matter as I’d get ostracizing feedback about my toes, like I had dedicated a criminal offense. Girls, strangers and mates alike — although by no means my mother — would make it their enterprise to criticize my toes, despite the fact that I by no means requested for his or her opinion. As soon as I went for a foot therapeutic massage and the masseuse instructed me that my toes regarded like an alien’s.

However, what’s seen because the “toes preferrred” right here is small toes. Very small toes. There’s a Chinese language idiom known as “娇小玲珑” (jiao1 xiao3 ling2 long2) which immediately interprets to “small, delicate, beautiful.” What the idiom means is that small (girls) is the illustration of class, magnificence, and exquisiteness.

Therefore, petite girls, girls with small fingers and toes, and thin girls are sometimes seen because the mark of magnificence be it in China, Hong Kong, or Singapore. Taiwan selection reveals revolve round such beliefs; typically an whole episode could be about criticizing girls’s seems, pores and skin, leg sizes, and so forth. As soon as my Chinese language instructor talked about the idea of 娇小玲珑, the place she stated — as a matter of truth — that small/petite girls with small fingers and toes are those who’re lovely. And he or she was relaying this to a category of younger college students who have been 13-14 years outdated.

Small Ft = Magnificence

Maybe this notion of magnificence could be traced all the way in which again to historical China, the place moms would bind their daughters’ toes in a painful course of known as “foot binding.” This resulted in life-long disabilities and has since been banned.

The rationale for foot binding was as a result of having small sure toes was seen as lovely. The best was a tiny 3 Chinese language inches (10cm or 4 Western inches), the place toes with this size could be known as 三寸金莲 (san1 cun4 jin1 lian2) or “3-inch golden lotuses.” Small sure toes have been seen as erotic to males as a result of dainty approach a lady was compelled to stroll. Having small sure toes was a prerequisite to discover a husband, and many ladies, their households, and their husbands took pleasure in their tiny toes.[1][2]

Lotus feet

The three-inch lotus toes, solely achievable via painful binding of a lady’s toes since younger (Picture: AFP)

Chinese woman with bound feet, also called "Golden Lotus"

Mdm Han Qiaoni is 102 years outdated and one of many final girls in China who had her toes sure. She was simply 2 when her toes have been damaged and her toes sure.[2] (Picture: REX/HAP/Quirky China Information)

Bound Feet

A closeup of a lady’s sure toes with out the elegantly embroidered silk sneakers usually used to cowl them (Picture: Bettmann/CORBIS)

Whereas the smaller 3-inch toes might need appeared erotic to males, the method of foot binding was enormously inhumane because the toes could be damaged and folded inward, and the arch of the toes forcibly damaged. An infection was a critical difficulty and the toes could be completely deformed. As many as 10% of women have been thought to have died from infections from foot binding, with the surviving girls have been susceptible to falls resulting in damaged hips; paralysis; and muscular atrophy.[3] The toes have been all the time hid of their lovely silk sneakers as some males most popular to by no means see them.

Maybe this obsession with small toes isn’t just restricted to Asia. Within the Western world, the story Cinderella involves thoughts, the place the Prince finds his love after looking his whole kingdom for the one maiden who may match into a tiny glass slipper.

In the event you learn the story rigorously, Cinderella really not directly glorifies small toes as a magnificence preferrred, as Cinderella, the heroine repeatedly described as lovely, has toes so tiny that nobody may match into her glass slipper however her. In actual fact within the Brothers Grimm’s model, the step sisters needed to lower off their toes and heel to suit into the slipper and win the Prince’s coronary heart! As we all know, the story of Cinderella has been retold for hundreds of years and tailored into numerous movies, the place girls of all ages and nationalities see Cinderella’s story as a super, and Cinderella herself as a task mannequin. 

By the way, the oldest documented model of Cinderella is alleged to come back from China[4], so maybe this complete affiliation of small toes with magnificence actually all as soon as originated from China.

Turning into Aware of Magnificence Beliefs

As I grew older, I continued to be ashamed of my toes, although solely subconsciously in order I knew tips on how to mitigate and keep away from awkward conditions surrounding my toes.

Till at some point once I realized that it didn’t make sense for me to really feel so ashamed about one thing that’s my physique half, that’s not even inside my direct management, that I by no means as soon as thought was “not lovely.” I had by no means thought of my toes as ugly; it was only a notion repeatedly pushed onto me by others.

As I dug into this disgrace, I spotted

  1. Simply because my toes usually are not small doesn’t imply that there’s something incorrect with them or that they don’t seem to be lovely. It simply signifies that they do not conform to the typical toes dimension of 6-8 in my nation or 6-7 in Asia, and there may be actually nothing to be ashamed about.
  2. Nearly all of the outlets in my nation do (did) not have my dimension as a result of most outlets cater for the majority, for the typical inhabitants want. My wants are merely an outlier of the typical girl’s want right here, which is why producers and retailers fail to account for my shoe dimension and wishes. That is anticipated as producers usually create the issues with essentially the most market want and demand, as a result of want for scale. It doesn’t imply that my physique half is shameful, however that I’m merely not within the common market subset in terms of sneakers. (Observe: Some outlets right here have begun carrying greater sizes, although it’s not necessary to me as I barely store anymore.)
  3. My toes are their dimension as a result of they’re the most effective size and width to assist my physique. I’m 170cm / 5′ 7″ and dimension 10 is what matches me and body. Most significantly, my toes are proportional and proper for me. However, the typical toes dimension for native girls is 6-8 as the typical top for girls right here is 160cm / 5′ 3″.[5] If I have been to have a toes dimension of 6-8, I don’t assume I’d have the ability to transfer as shortly as I do, or steadiness myself as simply.
  4. The individuals who criticized me for my toes earlier than have been no extra the results of their upbringing, schooling, and surroundings. They have been most likely taught that girls will need to have small toes to be considered fairly. If this mindset is to be modified, it must be executed by educating everybody on the basic stage, not by being offended at these who have been/are simply outcomes of a damaged system and pondering.

As I spotted that the supply of my disgrace was nothing however a set of baseless, twisted beliefs, my lifetime held disgrace, concern, and embarrassment surrounding my toes crumbled away. For the primary time, I finished scrunching my toes/toes unconsciously, one thing I had all the time executed most likely out of disgrace and concern. I felt lighter, free.

Girl standing on a field, looking at the sea

(Picture: HaoJan)

What We Can Do

Whether or not somebody’s toes are massive or small doesn’t point out their magnificence. Magnificence is available in all varieties, and on this case, all sizes and shapes of our toes. Magnificence isn’t just reserved for small toes, and definitely not for toes that may solely be achieved via foot binding. There are various tall celebrities and fashions with bigger toes sizes of 10, 11, 12, and even increased[7], and their massive toes are not any much less lovely than smaller toes.

In any case, if individuals are tall, they’d naturally have longer or broader toes. To scrutinize and count on everybody to keep a sure toes dimension with out contemplating their total physique top and body is ridiculous. We should always not count on others to look the identical and conform to the similar look however have fun everybody’s particular person look and kind.

But, the issue that I skilled isn’t nearly stigmas towards massive toes. It’s concerning the notion of magnificence beliefs. That in some way there’s a sure look or kind or characteristic that’s considered lovely in a tradition, and that everybody should both alter themselves to suit this look and achieve acceptance, or be considered disgusting, ugly, awful, undeserving, and so forth.

But, notions of magnificence are man-made to start with, usually formed based mostly on what’s widespread or not widespread in society, created to separate the “have’s” from the “haven’t’s.” For instance,

  • Pale pores and skin was related to the Aristocracy within the west because the aristocrats didn’t should work within the fields (therefore the time period “blue blood,” as their pores and skin could be so pale that one may see blue veins).[7] Equally, truthful pores and skin was a illustration of social status in China as the ladies of excessive social class didn’t must work within the fields, and therefore wouldn’t be tanned. For that reason, truthful pores and skin turned an emblem of magnificence among the many Chinese language, with a give attention to staying indoors and placing skin-whitening merchandise to remain truthful.[8]
  • Being weighty was seen as very engaging through the Renaissance period and the Tang dynasty. Meals was scarce then and being weighty meant that you just had sufficient to eat and could possibly be a probably wealthy and wholesome mate.[9]
  • Subsequently being skinny turned seen as very engaging when meals turned simply accessible and considerable, and the rich needed to stand out from the center class.[10]
  • In China through the Tune dynasty, tiny sure foot turned engaging as the one girls who may afford to try this have been those from rich households, as they didn’t must work within the fields.[11] This later turned adopted throughout all social lessons as the usual for magnificence.
  • Caucasians and their options — excessive nostril bridge, double eyelids, deep-set eyes, pale pores and skin — have been and nonetheless are usually seen as superior and extra engaging in lots of Asian international locations.[12] Whereas there could be many the reason why, I imagine a part of it’s as a result of many Asian international locations was below the Colonial rule, which created a deep-set mentality that Caucasians or these with Caucasian blood are higher, and a deep cultural affiliation that Caucasian-like options are “higher” or “extra lovely” than the everyday Asian options of spherical nostril, monolids, smaller eyes (on account of monolids), or the darker pores and skin tone for sure races, which is in flip perpetuated by media and society. Learn: Colonial mentality

For extra on altering magnificence requirements, learn this, this, this, and this.

Subsequently, individuals are then inspired to change themselves to achieve acceptance and be linked with magnificence. That is significantly prevalent amongst girls as there may be a lot strain on women and girls to attain a sure “magnificence” look, each as we speak and in earlier generations, although more and more so for males too. The wonder trade for ladies as we speak earnings vastly from reinforcing such beliefs, getting girls to repeatedly purchase make-up, sneakers, clothes, purses, and skin-altering merchandise (similar to pores and skin whitening). On the opposite finish, there are the extra invasive procedures like cosmetic surgery, injections, and abrasive therapies.

Nonetheless, magnificence isn’t the results of genetic likelihood or race or a sure look or characteristic. Magnificence is in every single place, in you and me. If we are able to cease and have fun who we’re and what we have already got as people, and cease physique shaming based mostly on sure beliefs created by males (girls) to start with, we are able to cease this countless cycle to attain some “magnificence look” when all of us are already lovely to start with, and also you don’t want to change your self to look “extra lovely” than one other.

Right here’s what we are able to do at a private stage:

  1. Acknowledge that magnificence is available in all varieties, shapes, and sizes. Each look is gorgeous. It’s not one look that’s extra lovely than one other, however that each look is gorgeous. I share extra right here: The Great thing about Self
  2. Cease judging others by their seems simply because they don’t match a sure mould of magnificence. Keep in mind that one’s definition of magnificence is not any extra the results of conditioning ones receives, the media that’s consumed, and the folks that one interacts with. There isn’t any one search for magnificence, however that each look is gorgeous.
  3. Cut back your consumption of magnificence items/providers that reinforce such beliefs. Aside from the truth that there’s no must, it additionally fuels such an trade and additional reinforces such beliefs. For instance, pores and skin whitening merchandise fuels the notion {that a} fairer pores and skin colour is “higher” when it’s not true. Double eye-lid stickers reinforce the notion that double eyelids are superior to monolids. Surgical procedure for top nostril bridge reinforce the desire and mindset {that a} increased nostril bridge is extra engaging. Right here I’m not saying to not use any magnificence merchandise, however to cut back consumption of merchandise that perpetuate destructive beliefs.
  4. Have a good time one another’s magnificence. After we dwell in a society the place we’re made to consistently pit towards one another, the place girls are taught to look a sure technique to be extra lovely than others, and the place every thing is a “contest,” individuals naturally begin criticizing one another, shaming and placing others down, after which make themselves appear higher, all in a quest for affirmation, love, and acceptance. I noticed this occur at school; it nonetheless occurs in most components of society as we speak, particularly in terms of males criticizing girls or girls criticizing girls.

    There isn’t any want to try this. We’re not competing towards one another; we’re people right here to dwell a greater life and create a greater future for others. At any time when you’ll be able to, have a look at your good friend(s), level out one factor you’re keen on about them/ their options/ their physique and inform them how lovely it’s. They may admire you for it.

  5. Educate one another and share the data. Whereas I’ve written this put up and different posts on magnificence (that I’ve linked beneath), I’m just one individual and my posts can solely go so far as when they’re learn. The place you’ll be able to, and should you really feel that any of those posts are useful, share them along with your family and friends. Open them as much as totally different concepts of magnificence. Educate them on totally different notions of magnificence, and that magnificence isn’t only one look or dimension, however one thing that everybody already has.

In the event you occur to have massive toes, I wish to let you already know that your toes aren’t a monstrosity or difficulty, however a pure a part of your physique. You shouldn’t be hating in your toes once they have been carrying you throughout distances, quietly carrying the load of your physique, and serving to you are taking your first steps and all of your steps in life. Love them, cherish them; they’re part of you. 🙂

If you already know individuals with big-size toes, share with them this put up. It could be one thing they want. 🙂 Thanks!

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