It’s difficult for us in the modern world to imagine how small bound feet were. Whenever I say to people that some of the smallest bound feet were only 3 inches long, they register that that is small but it’s only when they see exactly how small 3 inches is, that the horror of it hits them.
In order to illustrate how tiny bound feet were for “Breaking Tradition”, my award-winning talk inspired by the stories in Bound Feet Blues, I went online to order a pair of baby shoes. I searched and searched for baby shoes that were 3 inches long but the smallest size that I could find came to just over 4 inches.
The photo above shows me holding those 4+ inch baby shoes during my talk, to bring home to the audience what having bound feet meant. “Imagine a grown woman with baby feet.”
The baby shoes sit on the bookshelf in my dining room where I have been practising walking around in different ways in my exploration of what it must have been like to have had bound feet and where I often rehearse scenes from my show. Even with all my reading and research around the process of foot binding, it is still almost impossible to fully comprehend what it would’ve been like to have lived with broken and crushed feet that were so incredibly tiny for your whole lifetime.
Photo: Rita Abreu