Sunday, January 10, 2010

Foot Binding and the effect of society on Trends of Fashion and Perceptions of Beauty By Stephen Dimal Blog #2

In this blog I will be discussing the context of foot binding and how this practice was very much a way for society to control what is considered beautiful and leads to a change in the perceptions of beauty which are considered to be societal norms. In Dorothy Ko’s article she explores the reasons why there was ever a Chinese Custom of foot binding, and she believes that the purpose of foot binding was “as an expression of Chinese wen civility, as a marker of ethnic boundaries separating Han from Manchu, and as an ornament or embellishment of the body” (Ko, Journal of Women’s History The Body as Attire, Winter p. 10).

I will be focusing on her idea of foot binding as an ornament or embellishment of the body. I thought that it was very interesting how in the beginning of the article they discussed how to many of us in the present view foot binding as body mutilation, we must also look at foot binding without our own biases based on the customs of the present. In the Ko article she discusses how foot binding “was considered part of female attire, an adornment to be exact, not a form of bodily mutilation” (Ko, p. 17). This relates to my blog because it shows how back in that day, foot binding was not looked at as mutilation, as it is viewed with present standards, however was look at as something that added to a woman’s beauty. This illustrates how society as a whole often times uses its control over the perceptions of beauty as a means of control over its people.

This is very reminiscent over the control over perceptions of beauty by society and by western influences in the Philippines. In the Philippines there is a huge premium on one’s skin being pre dominantly light skinned, and anything that is “dark” is considered not beautiful. These values are instilled not only by society, but within the home, as many parents want their children to be very light skinned. As a matter of fact, in the video I have embedded, it is an advertisement for Belo Skin Whitening solutions. If you view the commercial you can see that the people in the advertisements are all wearing white dresses, are all light skinned and are all speaking in English. This shows the western influence on perceptions of beauty in the Philippines. This relates to the Ko article and foot binding, because it shows how dominant society can have a very distinct effect on the perceptions of beauty in a society, which in turn affects fashion.

Works Cited:

Ko, Dorothy. "The Body As Attire: The Shifting Meanings of Foot-binding in Seventeenth-Century China." Journal of Women's History (1997). Print.


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