Saturday, December 20, 2008

Remembering the shoes that Grandma made

I was driving along the freeway yesterday when I saw a billboard.  It showed a woman's bare midriff between a black shirt and pants, and written beside it were the words, "Hang Over?"  It was an advertisement for liposuction, or a tummy-tuck, or some other type of cosmetic surgery.  The thing is, the image didn't really phase me--probably because it looked identical to the midsection I see every day in the mirror...

...the one showing the battle wounds of motherhood...

...the one hinting that the owner indulges more than abstains...

...the one that I had never thought of surgically changing, until I saw this sign...

...........

On a separate, but yet related note...

These are the shoes my grandmother made.  They may look like they are just cute Asian shoes, but let me give you some perspective.


I outgrew these purple shoes when I was five years old.  They are about 6 inches long.


I was too young to remember when I last fit into these shoes.  They are about 4 1/2 inches long.

My grandmother learned how to make shoes like these because my great-grandmother, her mother, had bound feet.  

The process of binding feet began at age 3 and was a painful process of breaking, bending, and binding, and breaking, bending, and binding.  There were infections.  There were deaths.  But the price was worth it because with those small, lotus-shaped feet came the opportunity to marry well and live a prosperous life.  Every mother aspired to produce such feet from her daughters.

Barbaric, right?   What kind of society would force their women to mutilate themselves for social status?  What kind of civilization would hold this unnatural form to such high esteem that it caused not only the men to desire it, but also the women to desire perfection in it?  What culture would put such pressure on their women that they would go to such extreme measures for the sake of beauty?

And make grown women fit in the shoes my Grandma made?

...............

As I drove by that sign, the temptation flickered away as fast as it came.

Not this midriff!  

In your face, plastic surgery ad!

9 comments:

Karen said...

wow.



guess we're not as progressive as we'd like to think

michellejohnnie said...

Amen. Powerful post!!! You should write for a living!!!

Token Asian Friend said...

You think that was something? You should hear me sing! :)

Kristina P. said...

Excellent and thoughtful post.

I have a hard time with plastic surgery and how prevelent it's become.

Jen said...

What a profound post - I can't even tell you how reading this has impacted me today. I agree - you should write for a living.

Karen said...

after I read your post, I went and googled foot binding. It mad me want to cry.


(you are a good writer and I totally heart your blog!)

Token Asian Friend said...

Just FYI, I did not write this post to criticize those who have had work done. I wrote it because I get frustrated when society tells the majority of people that what they have is not of enough, or is unattractive.

Seriously, so blessed! said...

seriously!

NOBODY said...

There was a similar billboard like this, showing ample cleavage, that my husband and I drove past shortly after we were married. He pointed it out thinking it was funny, and I muttered that it was offensive. He was suprised that I was offended by cleavage, until I explained that I was offended that it was being suggested so "loudly" that I shouldn't be happy with how I was made.

THEN. A couple of years ago I read Snowflower and the Secret Fan and I was horrified by and yet completely compelled to learn more, about feet binding. I couldn't believe how painful, dangerous, devestating, and ultimately unattractive it was.

I never ever made the connection. It's brilliantly insightful.

Hmmm, how does it feel to get novel comments from complete strangers who call you brilliant?