Adriana Totino – Post 1
Are Stilettos Modern Foot Binding?
Body modification and alteration has become a significant attribute to many cultures and is often included in rituals and celebrations. Modification can be defined by countless acts including piercing, tattoos, scarification, foot binding, and suspension. Behavior such as breast implementation and reconstruction – plastic surgery, is defined as a form of body modification, just as the practices mentioned. Through the scope of an American, suffering through plastic surgeries may not be ideal, but is generally accepted. Americans feel that if there is a way to increase self-worth and happiness then it should be done. Differences in cultural norms make unfamiliar rituals seem outrageous or extreme, but one can make biased judgments towards any culture or behavior.
In the United States, it is expected of a woman to wear heels. As demonstrated in the TedTalk presented by Julie Bertrand, wearing heels forces a woman’s back to curve, accentuating areas of sexual appeal (ie, the buttock). Aside from improved aesthetics, wearing high heels makes a woman appear and feel stronger and more confident. Women tend to wear heels when they are trying to make a positive or professional impression. Slipping on the right pair of shoes can guarantee a good day. It may sound superficial, but most women would agree that heels not only adds a few inches of height, but forces them to stand tall with shoulders back. In regards to psychology, heels fulfill a lack of confidence and secure positive social interactions.
In the workplace, wearing heels allows shorter women to be empowered and have a strong physical presence, especially when surrounded by men of larger stature. Shoe choice is not categorized as a modification in my mind because it is not permanent, but to be fair it is considered a norm in my culture. It is just as easy to take them off, as it is to put them on. Furthermore, at the end of the day, it is just a pair of shoes and no extreme alterations have been implicated on the body aside from a blister, or two. Medical issues mentioned by Bertrand such as bunions or sciatic intrude over a long period of time from extensive strain.
Unfortunately, I was not in attendance for the class discussion on foot binding, but I am posting based on independent study of the material, and the thoughts of classmates. Prior to this week I had limited knowledge on foot binding in Asian cultures acquired through film clips and perhaps journal articles. I consider myself American with Italian heritage and carry those traditions. I have not been raised on any extreme acts, aside from those revolving the ingestion of not-so-common meals. Foot binding is not heard of in the United States, or Italy for that matter, so I have not had a firsthand experience with it.
It is shameful that women need to subject themselves to such extreme behavior in order to be in line with their culture. Whether it is more similar to foot binding or wearing high heels, rituals and behaviors that are gender-specific should be a thing of the past. Modern times are supposed to be revolved around equality and love for one’s natural self. It is impossible to convince a teenager she does not need to wear makeup when women around the globe are partaking in far more permanent and painful behaviors to enhance their feminine essence and appeal.