Ancient Foot Binding Custom, REVIVED?

Graphic by Bi Bi Hajira

The #KuToo movement, a wordplay from the Japanese kutsu, meaning ‘shoes’, and kutsuu, meaning ‘pain’ leading to #KuToo. This is a movement against the compulsion of women wearing high heels in workplaces. But wait, how is this related to foot binding?

A long-lived Chinese custom, considered a standard of beauty as well as a status symbol. Which involved restructuring and tightly binding the feet of juvenile girls in order to change the shape and size of their feet. This technique or custom is known as foot binding. Women have gone so far to express their discomfort with high heels, that they have compared it to the ancient foot binding custom.

Majority of occupations in Japan require women employees to wear heels of between five and seven centimeters, or 1.9 and 2.75 inches, in height. Rebelling against this policy is our #KuToo founder, Yumi Ishikawa, a Japanese actress, freelance writer, and part-time funeral parlor worker. Ms.Ishikawa expressed her discomfort on Twitter, which led to nearly 30,000 retweets and more than 60,000 likes, motivating other women to share their own stories of inconvenience with heels, posting photos of their wounded and blistered feet.

High heels are known to pose many physical risks aside from wounds, blisters and bleeding. Regular use has found to be associated with increased rates of first person injury and musculoskeletal pain. According to doctors, high heels can create lasting negative effects when worn constantly above two inches, like the women in Japan are expected to wear. Moreover, regular wear can cause lower back, hip, and knee issues, which can lead to osteoarthritis. 

The public opinion in Japan on the #The KuToo movement has varied. Ms.Ishikawa says she has received more support and positivity from countries other than Japan. She exclaimed that Japan did not view the movement in terms of discrimination based on gender rather it took health concerns into account.

According to Wikipedia, the #KuToo movement’s progression remains relatively slow due to various obstacles solidified by long-standing views on gender roles in Japan and expectations of social conformity. Japanese views on gender roles remain traditional, with women being socially designed for childcare and domestic tasks, regardless of whether or not they have paid employment. This movement is part of a recent shift towards resisting traditional views of gender roles and fighting gender discrimination in Japan.

Dress codes that target women are not an issue in a country like Japan only. Countries like British Columbia and the Philippines banned companies from forcing women to wear high heels by passing laws in the year 2017. A woman named Nicola Thorp was sent home from work for the day without pay and later fired, for not wearing heels, which sparked outrage throughout England in 2016.

The #KuToo movement, as of today, has taken over the Internet by a storm, but still remains a pending petition in the Japanese government. Nonetheless, Ms. Ishikawa says “If you think something isn’t right, then I don’t think it’s such a bad thing to talk about it”. She then clearly stated that she will continue to talk about the unfair dress code system because she believes talking about it will raise awareness and make people more understanding towards what women live through. 


Give this post a rating

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 4.7 / 5. Vote count: 3

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.