Over thousands of years, women have been expected to conform to ridiculous (if not dangerous) beauty standards. But for women in China, beauty standards were downright incapacitating until the 20th century, and even then the tradition continued. As part of her "Living History" series, Jo Farrell has captured a world we have never seen. These women are the last generation to have had their feet bound, and they're baring all.
We can't be sure when exactly the Chinese practice of foot binding started, but it seems to go as far back as the 10th century.
Presumably, this is where the term "Lotus feet" came from.
It was obviously painful, as their feet would bleed and even get infected.
The ideal foot was about 4" long.
Starting at extremely young ages, the process was painful and inhibited young girls' ability to play.
For Su Xi Rong, foot binding was the only way to get married.
Sadly, she's unable to walk anymore.
For Si Yin Zhin, foot binding was just part of life.
Zhang Yun Ying was 103 years old when she had her photo taken.
For many Chinese women, it was considered a sign that you wouldn't "complain" as a wife.
When she was growing up with her feet bound, she cried so much that her grandfather complained.
For many women, the bones would break repeatedly.
While it is possible to unbind feet, the process is equally as painful as the binding itself.
Some girls chose to bind their feet themselves, because it was considered beautiful.
These women are the last of over a thousand years of tradition, typically unseen by our society.