We went to the The Institute of Sexology | Wellcome Collection exhibition just before Xmas. It is a fascinating history of the study of human sexuality and includes a number of artefacts from China showing women with bound feet. I blogged a few days ago about an ivory carving showing a Chinese couple making love which is on show at the exhibiton.
Catch it if you can before Sept 2015. Here is the blurb and also the promotional video:
” ‘The Institute of Sexology’ tells the complex and often contradictory story of the study of sex through Continue reading
This tiny ivory couple shows a Chinese man and woman making love. You can see the man on top, with his bare feet. Under him is the woman with her legs wrapped around him. You can just about see her breasts and if you look very closely, you will see her tiny bound feet.
The original carving can be seen at the Institute of Sexology exhibition at the Wellcome Foundation, which is on till Sept 2015.
If you missed the sellout showcase performance of Bound Feet Blues in October, you can watch a selection of highlights in this short video (under 2 mins):
The show received 4+Star reviews and we are planning a 3 week run back in London’s West End in Nov/ Dec 2015 – more details to be announced shortly.
For a change from the series of wacky high heels I’ve been sharing, here’s a pair of funky strappy biker style boots that really take my fancy…
They are the kind of footwear that you can stride through life in – and kick ass if you need to…
Looking Western seems to be an ideal of beauty for some Chinese women, according to an article in the Daily Mail. They are getting cosmetic surgery on their faces to remove their Chinese features – making their eyes bigger, sharpening their noses and reshaping their faces to seem longer. Is looking Chinese really so awful for these women that they feel they have to destroy their own faces to look more Western and therefore in their minds more beautiful?
Looking at the photos in the article, I am reminded of depictions of women in anime comics, which originated in Japan – with large saucer like eyes and heart shaped faces, mapping Western features onto Eastern female faces. The skin tones also seem to have been altered to look paler and pinker. There, too, in those comic books, Western features are idolized.
Bound Feet Blues explores why women in ancient China were prepared to do violence to themselves and their daughters in the context of footbinding, which mutilated a girl’s feet beyond repair. That brutal cultural practice died out about 70 years ago. But it looks like it has returned but in another form.
The underlying message of both bound feet and this Westernizing cosmetic surgery seems to me to be that Continue reading
As you may know, I’ve been working on Bound Feet Blues – The Book which brings together the stories behind the story of the show. I have just finished Chapter One: Stilettos, bringing it home at 17,000+ words. The chapter goes behind the scenes of the opening sequence of the theatre performance, which depicts me walking to a ball in stilettos and a red cheongsam, aged 20.
I share stories of my coming of age as a young woman at Oxford, falling in love and discovering the power of my femininity – and how I transformed from a shy, awkward fresher into a woman who can sashay along confidently in a slinky evening gown.
” You must be sleek and slim – and curvaceous, but only in the right places”
Here is an extract, describing what it takes to wear the tight fitting, figure hugging, seductive Chinese traditional dress, while walking in heels…
“There is something about the severity of the high collar and the unforgiving close fit of the cheongsam that requires a sternness in your upper body as you wear it. You cannot slack if you are to keep the cloth from creasing over your belly or pulling up over any untoward bumps and crevices. You must be sleek and slim – and curvaceous, but only in the right places, which is why the dress has to be tailor made for exactly your shape and cannot be Continue reading
In this video, a 90+ year old Chinese lady in Malaysia is interviewed, talking about her experience of having her feet bound.
The practice of footbinding did not take place in Malaysia but many women who had had their feet bound as childre migrated to Malaya (as Malaysia used to be called before independence from British rule) in later life.
The Guardian has a terrific gallery of photos showing a selection of totally bonkers high heels including this pair of killer stilettos…. – from an exhibition aptly entitled Killer Heels at the Brooklyn Museum, on now till 15 Feb 2015.
The gallery shows that high heels were also in fashion in ancient China – see this pair below. They emulated bound feet for the ruling Continue reading