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Chinese foot binding is the custom of applying painfully tight binding to the feet of young girls to prevent further growth. The practice possibly originated among upperclass court dancers in the early Song dynasty, but spread and eventually became common among all but the lowest of classes. Eventually foot binding became very popular because men thought it to be highly attractive.
Chinese woman with bound feet. The foot binding process was started before the arch of the foot had a chance to develop fully, usually between the ages of 2 and 5. Binding usually started during the winter months since the feet were more likely to be numb, and therefore the pain would not be as extreme.