Lotus foot was a widespread custom in China. It lasted over 1000 years: since 970 A. D. until 1911 when it was finally banned. This custom was widespread throughout the China, though the methods of foot-binding were different in different regions of the country.
Chinese women used to bind their feet in the form of the new moon by breaking the bones and deforming them into a specific shape. The perfect size of a foot shouldn’t have been longer than 3 Chinese inches, which is 10 cm. The foot-binding procedure started at the age of 4 to 9 until the feet of the child were fully formed. This custom was passed from generation to generation. It went from mother to daughter and so on.
The most common theory why lotus feet became a trend in China is that Emperor Li Yu asked his favorite consort Yao-Niang to bind her feet in the shape of a new moon and dance for him on the lotus. She did that and impressed the Emperor by her dance. Others who also wanted to impress him imitated Yao-Niang. The binding of feet was then taken by noble women and spread all over the country. The practice was mostly used in urban areas as in rural areas women needed normal feet to be able to work, but women who did not have a necessity to work or normally walk could afford this process.
Foot-binding was a very painful and dangerous process which was a cause of different diseases and disabilities among women. Some caught gangrene and died. Others remained to disable throughout their lives. In other words, women could not enjoy happy and healthy life, but if they did not bind their feet, only a few people would agree to marry them.