Not all women—or even most—had their feet bound. Because it was associated with erotic pleasure, and because bound feet are literally crippling, the practice was primarily confined to girls for whom upper-class marriages were intended and prostitutes. But they paid the high price of beauty for the rest of their lives. Many women lived in excruciating pain and were unable to walk even the shortest of distances. While footbinding spread to other classes over time, servants and women in farming families could not have functioned with the disability of bound feet.
Photo courtesy of Beverly Jackson, Splendid Slippers