Here is also a comparison of an unbound (left) and bound foot (right).
Personally, seeing these photos and pictures makes me cringe. I cannot imagine how painful this must have been day in and day out for these women. And, I am not just talking about the physical pain! I cannot imagine not being able to move around freely and at my own will, without having to suffer the pain or someone at my side holding me up. And, the implications that came along with this time period were more than just the binding of the feet. Women were not to be educated, particularly in public schools or beyond a certain age. Being as how I greatly value education, this would be so difficult for me. Then again, I grew up in a completely different culture and a completely different time. The women who grew up during this time did not know any different and were only following tradition -- tradition that meant so much to their society and world around them. For a young girl to speak out against the binding and all that came with it was truly revolutionary. She had to be brave and I admire her for doing that!
As I did more reading on the subject, I found the history behind foot binding to be very intriguing! For example, did you know that it actually had sexual implications? If you are wondering how this can even be possible or are interested in reading more about its history, here is a thorough article that I found to also be very neutral in its presentation. Also, for additional novels that reference the tradition, you can read The Good Earth by Pearl Buck (I remember really enjoying this book, but it's been a while since I read it!) and/or Snowflower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See (this book is actually sitting on my shelf to be read!). One of these days, I will re-read the classic and read the more modern novel. Until then, I'm off to do some more reading in a different genre altogether!