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Blinded by the Sole

This piece was written in hopes of spreading knowledge of contemporary Asian culture and to educate those who were previously unfamiliar. "Blinded by the Sole" focuses on the hardships endured by the women of ancient China to comply with society's beauty standards.

To be mangled physically, and binded spiritually, the contortment of the physiology of what we considered a woman. To be considered a beauty in the Ming Dynasty, put on top of a pedestal, as she stands there in pain from her mangled metatarsals. Urging to be free, as her feet burst from her unfit soles, running away as blood trails on the gravel behind her, while the elders shout from a distance in disgust. The suitors that her parents have matched her for, have run away on horseback, back to their kingdom to find another bride. She has been set free, however, all alone. As she runs away to a local doctor asking for aid, and is given tea with ginger and corydalis for pain. Set to lay on her stomach as the doctor pricks her skin with needles allowing the pain to alleviate from certain pressure points. Crying from happiness, as well as agony, knowing she will never be viewed the same back at her village, as well as disowned by her parents, never to set foot in their house again.

Her tarsals all the way down to her phalanges, mutilated and distorted, forever walking in discomfort, as cartilage scrapes down to the bone, and considered a disgrace to the village elders. "Was it even worth it? Should I just have endured the pain?" She asks, as she stares into the cold dark sky. The arches of her feet appear to be nonexistent, as she walks in normal slippers for the first time since she was a toddler, wobbling and waddling around the streets of the night, where she cannot be seen. Where all you can picture is a gleeful silhouette skipping, twirling, and swinging her arms in and out, in the midnight blue sky.

Note: The practice of shoe binding started in the Song Dynasty (960-1272) as a way to "up-lift women to the beauty standard of China in the 10th century. This was a very painful process started at a young age for girls, which anatomically changed the feet to appear dainty. Only high status women participated in this, since the shoes were very expensive for its time.

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