An intriguing and evocative new video trailer for Yang-May Ooi’s memoir Bound Feet Blues – A Life Told in Shoes [video]

We are delighted to unveil this new video trailer for Yang-May Ooi’s memoir, Bound Feet Blues – A Life Told in Shoes. It features photos from the book as well as some from Yang-May’s personal photo albums which we hope evokes the mood and themes of this powerful family memoir.



Yang-May writes:

Writing a memoir isn’t an ego thing for me. Rather, it was a way to look back at my life – and also the lives of the women who came before me in my family – and to make sense of the challenges and heartache as well as remembering the joy and human connections that have made me the creative artist I am today.  I write my own story to transform the personal into the universal.  My hope is that readers will be inspired by the stories in Bound Feet Blues to look back at their own lives and find the moments, stories and people who can inspire *them* going forward.


You can buy a copy of Bound Feet Blues from:


or the publishers website at Urbane Publications


“I love being able to wiggle my toes!” – 2015 Production Performance Photo, Bound Feet Blues

Following on from Jo Good’s amazement at writer/ performer Yang-May Ooi’s versatile toes during the BBC London interview the other day, we thought we’d share a performance photo from Bound Feet Blues featuring these star quality toes!

** Bound Feet Blues is NOW ON  at the Tristan Bates Theatre until Sat 12 December 2015. Don’t miss this “mesmerising” and “powerful” show – buy tickets below or via **



**You can buy tickets for Bound Feet Blues via **


Tristan Bates Theatre
1A Tower St, Covent Garden WC2H 9NP

Tue 24 Nov – Sat 12 Dec, Tue – Sat at 7.30pm.
Tickets £16 / £12 concessions.
Q&As post-show, 27 Nov & 4 Dec.

**BUY ONLINE via: **

The longest journey begins with a single step

“The longest journey begins with a single step ” – that is the inspiring quote I am using as the opening epigraph for my book of Bound Feet Blues.

It is apt for the topic of bound feet and in particular the pain of walking in bound feet – but also encompasses any endeavour we may try.

Step by step.

That is what got Cheryl Strayed through her thousand mile hike along the Pacific Crest Trail, as portrayed in her book and the movie of the same name, Wild. That is how my great-grandmother escaped an unhappy marriage in China, on her bound feet, to make a new Continue reading

The earliest recorded version of the Cinderella story came from China just as footbinding became fashionable

Did you know that one of the earliest recorded versions of the Cinderella story was written down during the Tang Dynasty in China around 850 AD? It was recorded by Duan Chengshi but he says it is about a woman who lived a thousand years before.



The two most famous versions of the Cinderella story are the ones by the Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault involving glass slippers, pumpkins and mice as well as a wicked stepmother and two ugly stepsisters – seared into our collective memories by the Disney animated movie. Both these versions were recorded around the 1700s and 1800s AD in Western Europe.

Always an inch smaller…

In the Tang Dynasty version, the heroine’s name is Ye Xian. The key elements are as in the Western version although the twists and turns of the story differ. The Chinese Cinderella is bullied by her wicked stepmother and two evil step-sisters and she goes to a ball in disguise, wearing a sumptuous Continue reading

IN THIS BODY – From domination to resistance to freedom

I’m delighted to introduce you to my guest blogger Rona Steinberg, co-founder of an exciting new event for women – and men – called IN THIS BODY. In this exclusive essay for the Bound Feet Blues blog, she writes about her response to the practice of footbinding and reflects on how it can open up topical and relevant discussions for us as modern women about our relationship to our bodies. 

I’m sitting drinking coffee with Yang-May last week in the tranquil surroundings of the courtyard of Southwark Cathedral. It’s late afternoon and it’s been raining but now the weather is clearer and while there’s a chill in the air, we want to sit outside where it’s fresh and mellow and we’re close enough to the river to feel its energy.

Yang-May describes some of the background behind Bound Feet Blues and while I’ve heard some of this story before, I find myself as usual caught up in the compelling drama of her narrative. The story feels urgent, important, it’s vital to bear witness, to stay calm and focus, I tell myself.

And yet my body protests.

Distorting our bodies

My stomach twists with the horror of her description of the actual physical process of the foot binding, my heart cries for the suffering of girls and women, their pain and helplessness and for their mothers, conditioned to believe they do this in service of their daughters. My whole being rages at the sheer injustice, cruelty and harshness of a society which says you must deform and distort your bodies for the pleasure of men.

We wonder if despite how awful it is to listen to all this, if perhaps it’s more possible to stay with the narrative because it feels as if it comes from history, from a different world. And even as I think this, I counter that argument with the knowledge, that no, terrible things are still done to women’s bodies as a way of controlling them, as a way of giving pleasure to men. And still perhaps even more sadly, some women continue to believe that this deception must be maintained for some skewed version of how the status quo must look.

I think how fortunate I am that such things have never happened to me, how would I react if it did, what would I do? Would I submit or resist? Comply or rebel?

A woman’s body in a man’s world

And I reflect on my own experiences of being a girl, a woman in my body. I think about becoming a lawyer, how much my own body, mind and sensibilities resisted the logical thinking that the law requires, how in those sombre, masculine offices how much of myself I denied – my creativity, quirkiness, imagination, intuition and emotional intelligence – in favour of drab documents and endless legal argument. I tried so very hard to be and look professional and competent but I don’t think I was very convincing.

Rona Steinberg, Out Loud Coaching

I remember crying because I couldn’t grasp the mysteries of a balance sheet however much that irritated Continue reading

Imagine a grown woman with baby feet

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 Continue reading

What gorgeous barefoot sandals!

I had never heard of barefoot sandals before until my pal Vincent posted a photo on Facebook. As I am obsessing about feet and shoes and all things pedial these days due to Bound Feet Blues, I set off into the web universe to find out more.

There are some amazing and gorgeous foot adornments  that can be found – here is an example. Isn’t it just gorgeous?

Tribal Indie BAREFOOT Sandals Ankle wrap sandal LEAF Toe Thongs crochet Gypsy Sandals Wanderlust PURPLE Barefoot Wedding bare feet GPyoga

With this current rare heatwave in the UK, this summer might Continue reading

Why I love this pair of battered biker boots

I’ve been blogging a lot about high heels recently and in particular, my efforts to recreate a swaying, high heeled walk for a scene in Bound Feet Blues.

To give you a contrast – and especially to show you who I am now, here is a photo of the kind of footwear that I stride around in these days.

This is the pair of biker boots that I wear most often in my daily life. They are now a bit beaten up and grungy looking. But I love them because they are the most comfortable pair of boots I have at the moment.

I love the way that they make me feel a bit tough, especially with the two strapped buckles on the side. If you know me, you know that I’m really a softy and not much of a hard-ass biker chick at all – but it gives me a kick (ha ha) to stomp around in these boots that make me feel as if I could win any bar brawl…

For me, the shoes or boots that I wear can really affect Continue reading

Running Barefoot on the Beach like a Child

Regular readers of this blog will know that I am a keen (though very slow!) runner. I usually trot along my neighbourhood pavements or round my local park in my cushioned running shoes. I love the feeling of speed (well, compared to a walking pace anyway) that running gives me and the challenge of the effort that it takes, as well as being outside in the fresh air and among leafy, pretty scenery.

Last month, I was down in Devon and had the chance to run on a number of long, sprawling beaches at low tide. One of my favourite stretches was along Saunton Sands where the sand is firm and fairly smooth.  In contrast to city streets or parks there was no hard tarmac and no landmines of dog poo or rusty cans or broken glass.  I took the chance to whip off my shoes and set off on my run barefoot.

What a sense of freedom to feel the warm sand underfoot and the cool air around my toes! It was like being a child again, running for the joy of running. Without the line of the pavement or the footpath I was used to in the park, I ran in any direction and in a tangle of routes. And all the while I could feel  Continue reading

Bound Feet Blues: Would you slice up your feet to fit into your shoes – like the ugly sisters in the Cinderella story?

In the Cinderella fairy tale, when the Prince finds the glass slipper dropped by Cinderella, he travels around the kingdom trying to find the woman whose foot is the perfect fit for the shoe. Many women long to marry the Prince, including Cinderella’s ugly sisters but their feet are too big – so they resort to chopping off their toes and their heels to make their feet fit into that single perfect glass slipper.

You think this is a fairy tale.

Well, think again.

It seems that women today are having foot surgery so that their feet fit more easily into high heel shoes or sandals, according to an article on Shape magazine on Cinderella Foot Surgery.

They are asking for toe shortenings… nail re-sizing, “foot facelifts,” “toe tucks,” and foot narrowing… [and] “toebesity” surgery [liposuction on fat toes]

Having spent so much time researching the brutal Continue reading