Why are Feet Fetishes a Thing?

Foot fetish. Source: Freepik

Think sexual fetishes are just a passing fad? Well, think again!

Despite what people think, foot fetishes are not new – platforms like Feetfinder are merely new manifestations of a long-standing subculture. In fact, Feet Finder allows you to browse hundreds of women selling beautiful feet pics. And with millions of visits each month, the fetish for feet is real!

But how did it come to that?

According to studies, humans’ fascination with feet can be traced back to the Greeks! In fact, a poet named Philostratus wrote a poem on feet as early as the 1st century. These appendages are a crucial part of East Asian cultures as well. For example, in Chinese and Japanese tradition, tiny feet in women were an ideal of beauty for a millennium.

The Culture Around Feet in Asia

In China, small feet were highly desirable even as late as the early to mid-1900s. Petite feet were highly sought after as they were signs of aristocracy. This ideal of beauty emerged from the fact that women who toiled in the fields typically had coarse, rough feet. In contrast, upper-class ladies involved exclusively in indoor work had soft, dainty feet.

Thus, Aristocratic women were more likely to have such features than working-class women. Based on these social markers, brides in Imperial China were classified based on their feet size.

According to historical documents, a woman with a 3-inch foot was seen as the “ideal” bride.

Even an inch larger was somewhat acceptable. However, feet sizes of 5 inches and above were deemed as coarse. Women with such large feet had very prospects of marriage. The ideal 3-inch foot was termed a “golden lotus.” However, larger-sized feet were called “iron lotuses.”


The Lotus-Foot Bride 

As markers of refinement and status, these lotus feet persisted in Imperial China for almost 1000 years. Chinese women practiced the very painful art of foot binding to attain this ideal. Studies show that over 40% of all Chinese women in the 19th century had their feet bound.

This number even reached 100% in the case of upper-class Han ladies. In this practice, the women had their feet bound to preserve their shape and size, starting in early childhood. The extremely tight fit restricted the foot from growing in puberty.

Besides this, foot binding was extremely painful and limited mobility in these women. They also suffered lifelong disabilities due to their inability to balance themselves adequately. Despite these complications, almost half of all Chinese women practiced this to achieve the desired lotus feet.

Feet Fetishes in the Present

While extreme, this example from the Chinese culture indicates that foot fixations are not a new thing. Instead of being a fad, the human preoccupation with feet can be traced to over 2000 years ago. And while the very dated practice of foot binding has been wiped out, feet-based attraction is still alive and thriving.

For example, the US reports more than 40,000 search results for “foot worship” monthly. Statistics also show that America is one of the top countries regarding foot fetishism. It ranks in the top 10 nations, along with China, Japan, Germany, Italy, and more.

Around the world, body-part-based fetishes are the most common type of fetish. Among these, feet fixations take up more than 47%. The general public is also becoming more comfortable with the idea of foot-based attractions.

Feet Fetishes as Explained By Science

This change may be triggered by the fact that foot fetishes are widely explained by science. For example, experts like Vilayanur S. Ramachandran have proposed that the brain’s neurological positioning could be one of the major causes of this phenomenon.

Neurological Explanations 

His study shows that the region associated with interpreting stimuli from the feet immediately neighbors the area that processes sensory input from the genitals. Based on this proximity, “neural crosstalk” episodes could be 100% probable.


In such cases, messages meant for the other could be accidentally received by the neighboring processor. Simply put, triggers initiated by foot play be intercepted by the genitals-associated area of the brain and vice versa.


This theory could explain why even the sight of bare feet can be so arousing for some people. Due to the indirect genital stimulation, these individuals have been noted to react as firmly to feet as a heterosexual male would to the sight of exposed breasts.


Psychoanalytical/Freudian Explanations


Meanwhile, a psychoanalytical view of foot fetishes uses the theory of sexual imprinting to explain this phenomenon. Studies on sexual deviance propose that this fixation developed primarily during early childhood. During this period, sexuality is comparatively fluid, and the mind is easily impressionable.


Exposure to incorrect concepts of sex objects during this phase could thus result in the development of feet fetishes. Early experiences like these may cause the child to imprint a narrow view of the sexual organ.


Sigmund Freud, the “Father of Psychoanalysis” himself explains this phenomenon via the concept of the substitute phallus. The Freudian theory states that children during early childhood accidentally take their mothers’ feet to be a substitute for the sex object, i.e., the phallus.


This imprinting resurfaces during puberty or in adulthood as an obsession with feet. Depending on the depth of the imprinting, the subject may exhibit varying levels of arousal. For example, Subject A may be mildly attracted to feet. They may like looking at or caressing feet.’


However, another individual may show more extreme symptoms of the fetish. So, Subject B may be unable to achieve climax without incorporating feet into their sexual routine. They may also regularly fantasize about suckling, licking, or “worshiping” feet.


Aside from the feet (including toes, soles, and ankles), a foot fetish also includes an attraction to feet-related paraphilia, including footwear, accessories, and hosiery.


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