Bound Feet Blues is as much about my own personal coming out story as it is about the story of great-grandmother with bound feet. Footbinding in the show is a metaphor for the binding up of who we really are, of our natural selves, in order to fit into an social construct of what a woman should be.
The story also explores how I used to be a tomboy and what that meant for me in terms of freedom vs constraint, power vs restriction, heartfelt love vs pretending to be someone I was not. For me, coming out was the ultimate act of unbinding and personal empowerment – signified by the freedom to wear whatever I choose, whether fully female or male attire or an androgynous combination of both….
This vintage photo shows two Japanese women, one in female clothing, the other in man’s clothes. I’ve not been able to find any background information to the photo. I don’t know if it’s truly a historical photo – and if so, where or when it was taken – or if it’s a modern snapshot made to look vintage nor who the women are. If it were truly vintage, there would be an added poignancy, knowing the restrictions of the past for women especially within Japanese culture. But even if not, it is a lovely and touching photo.
Photo from: http://fyeahqueervintage.tumblr.com/post/28204166380/two-japanese-women-featuring with thanks
Yang-May Ooi is an award-winning TEDx speaker, bestselling author and story performer. Her work uses the power of personal narrative to inspire women to develop authentic confidence and become collaborative leaders. She is currently rehearsing a one woman story performance, Bound Feet Blues, which will be showcased in London’s West End in Oct 2014.