The Pursuit of Beauty

in Alien Art Hive2 years ago (edited)

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In Pursuit of Beauty

As a young girl I read The Good Earth by Pearl Buck. I was struck by what seemed to be the cruel and irrational custom of foot binding. Women's feet were deliberately deformed in order to make them fit a cultural ideal of beauty. The practice was eventually outlawed in 1912, but many families continued the custom secretly long after that. The tiny feet that resulted from binding were called lotus feet.

Chinese Woman Whose Foot Was Bound
A_Chinese_Golden_Lily_Foot_by_Lai_Afong_c1870s_full public.jpg
Image credit: Lai Afong (1839-1890). Public domain

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Cinderella Surgery

While the term lotus feet seems like an incongruous euphemism, it is perhaps no more incongruous than the term 'Cinderella surgery'. This is a term sometimes used to describe a procedure (or series of procedures) performed on the feet of contemporary women who want to wear stiletto shoes. Sometimes the foot modification is called stiletto surgery.

Toe Displacement with Narrow Style Stiletto
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Image credit: Die Körperpflege der Frau, Dr. C. H. Stratz 1907. Public domain.

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In a stiletto, there is not enough room for all five toes to fit comfortably in the narrow tip. Solution? Amputate the pinky toe

Surgery to enable stiletto wearing can be more extensive than that. According to one plastic surgeon, Dr. Neal Blitz, foot modification can include "bunion and multiple toe surgery."

Hallux Valgus (Bunion)
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Image credit: Michael Nebel Used under a CC 2.0 license.

The bunions shown on the x-ray film may be a consequence of wearing stiletto shoes.

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Plantar Flexion of the Foot in High Heels

Science_ofDressTo_face_p236 Ada S. Ballin 1885 pd.jpg
Image credit: Ada S. Ballin in Science of Dress to Face. 1885. Public domain

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Men Are Not Immune to the Promise of a Beautiful Foot

Louis XIV Sports a Well-Turned Foot
high heels Hyacinth Rigaud Louis_XIV_1701 public.jpg

Image credit: Hyacinth Rigaud (1659-1743). Public domain

This 1702 oil painting of the French king shows the monarch's fondness for high heels.

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Oh, That 18" Waist: The Corset

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Princess Maud of Wales and Prince Carl of Denmark

Image credit: Peter Cooke for Gunn & Stuart, 1896. Public domain

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Let's have a look at what that corset is likely doing to Princess Maud's body.

Illustration of the Corset's Effects
high heels corst effects Museu Valencià d'Etnologia from València, España 2.0.jpg

Image credit: Museu Valencia d'Etnologia, Valencia, Espana. Used under CC 2.0 license.

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According to the Royal College of Medicine, the corset could cause, "poor digestion and over time the back muscles could atrophy." In some cases, long-term use led to deformation of the rib cage.

Illustration of a Corseted Figure, 1867

Planche_XII Corset Leoty_1867  SaintElme Gautier pd.jpg

Image credit: Le_Corset_àtravers_lesâges (1893) by d'Ernest Leoty. Illustration by Saint-Elme Gautier. Public domain

An article published by the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, explains the purpose of a corset: to create "a tiny waist and an emphasis on the bust and hips—the idealized hourglass shape."

Hence, Princess Maud's tightly corseted wedding figure.

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Arsenic Wafers and Lead Compounds to Lighten Skin Color

A Newspaper Advertisement From 1889

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Image credit: Helene Independent Newspaper, 1889. Public domain.

Potential side effects of consuming arsenic wafers:
"Nervous system and kidney damage; hair loss; conjunctivitis; vitiligo; skin growths called arsenical keratoses". (Source:Atlas Obscura)

Potential side effects of applying lead compounds to the skin:
"Grey withered...discolored skin; rotted teeth; bad breath; lung infections; hair loss". (Source: Face Paint: The Story of Make-up)


Tanning Beds to Darken Skin Color


Image credit: Evil Erin. CC 2.0

Potential Side Effects of Tanning Beds:
Squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma; ocular melanoma; premature aging, immune suppression; irreversible eye damage; allergic reaction (Source: U.S. FDA)


Implants to Enhance a Feature


Image credit:U.S. FDA. Public domain. Silicone Implant.

Potential side effects of silicone:
This has been a subject of controversy for years. The following is taken from Science Direct and was published in June of 2020:
*"...breast implants 'bleed." Once the silicone implant has bled, " molecules can then migrate through the body via the bloodstream or lymphatic system". The effect of this bleed on cells, according to Science Direct, is cell death. This cell death mimics natural cell death, apoptosis*.

According to, a ruptured silicone implant may result in silicone migrating to other parts of the body, "such as the lymph nodes or lungs". Then,"lumps called silicone granulomas can form in the arm, armpit, chest area, or elsewhere in the body."


Liposuction to Minimize a Feature

Dr_Vishal_Kapoor_Performing_Liposuction_Surgery_01 © Photographer  James C. Mutter  Plastic Surgeon Vishal Kapoor, MD 3.0.jpg

Potential Side Effects of Liposuction:
According to the Mayo Clinic, risks from liposuction include: Bleeding; reaction to anesthesia; possibly permanent contour irregularities; fluid accumulation; temporary or permanent numbness; infection; puncture of an internal organ; fat embolism; kidney problems; heart problems; Lidocaine toxicity.

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This post was prompted by irritation, the irritation I felt about the ubiquitous stiletto. l began the blog with a picture, the GIF that appears at the top of the page. However, as I read different resources it became apparent that the scope of the essay had to be wider than stilettos. The pursuit of beauty transcends time and culture. It transcends gender.

Men have not received much attention in this blog, but that's just because the focus started with a stiletto. Make no mistake: men want to be beautiful. Increasingly, they are consumers of plastic surgery. They dominate the hair restoration market.

One Method of Hair Transplantation

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As I end this essay I have one thought: maybe we can be kinder to ourselves when we look in the mirror. If we can do that, we might have longer, healthier lives.

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Thank you for reading my blog

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Hive on

Sources for the GIF

Eyes: Pixabay

Lips: Pixabay

Shoes: Pixabay


Hourglass: Me, drawing on Paint


Dear AG,
I've been coming back since days to browse through my hive feed and find one of your great posts that I miss so much on the Steem. Wow! You've put so much effort into it again and it shows the joy you get out of blogging and researching. I wish so much that this behaviour would appear again sometime in the future with more than one user. Well, probably just a nice dream.

It is highly interesting but also frightening what mankind does for its "beauty".
I have two toes grown together (only the skin, the mobility of bones and joints is not affected). The doctors wanted to cut the skin from me as a newborn, but my mother did not allow it. Lucky me! By the way, I was never annoyed for this (as the doctors argued), quite the contrary: I can remember at least two spontaneous conversations in the swimming gym during my childhood. One girl also had such "webbed feet" - we thought we were cool, extraordinary and... beautiful... ;-)

Very warm regards from autumnal Northern Germany,
your friend Chriddi

Hello Chriddi,
Thank you for the very welcome visit, and for seeing the joy I get from writing. It's not just 'writing--it's the sense that I might actually be saying something of worth, to at least one person.

I read your comment as I was about to go to sleep last night...gave my iPad a final glance before I was willing to let the day retire. What nice sentiments to have in my head at that moment.

We humans are fragile, aren't we? I think this scramble for perceived beauty is tied to our social nature. The need to belong, to seek approval, to be high on the social hierarchy.

I love the idea of your toes, and I love your wise parents. Silly doctor. Same kind of mentality that forces parents to mutilate an infant's genitalia because it does not fit exactly into the customary defintion of male or female. Of course, your toe surgery would not have as dramatic, but who knows how that would have worked out. And, what a profound violation of your person that would have been.

Enjoy the preserved produce (yes I've stopped at your blog) and the remaining days of autumn. It is the time of year when I think we want to hold onto moments because we are reminded by nature that time is slipping away.

Your friend from across the sea,

Thank god @agmoore there is something for us at the end :D .. FUT is also their but FUE is much popular I think. Luckily, I have content hair still, hope god would bless me with that forever haha!

I never knew that feet surgery is also there. Holy god! I'm real stunned on this and the corset too. I thought only lips, hips, breats surgery was available for them.

I hope this might be of high value to some.. Reblogged!

Thank you for the reblog.
Yes, of course I remember the men, but very few of them wear stilettos :)) so that's why they were mostly left out.
I hope to see your nice collages when @shaka returns. Meanwhile good health to you and your family.

About to post one now for community support challenge, I hope I can make it before deadline :D

Wish you the same AG :) @agmoore

Super Cool!

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Have a great, creative day.


This blew me away! What an awesome article and I love your presentation!!!!


That you very much for that high praise, and for the tip. It's very nice to know you. Even after all this time, I'm still making discoveries on Hive (AKA Steemit in another incarnation). You and @dwixer are among my most recent :)

@agmoore , am grateful for the compliment. I feel appreciated over my effort

This is an excellent post AG and I hope someone thinking of small toe removal, breast implants or liposuction will read it and reconsider.

It’s really harmful what females have had done to them, such as foot binding, or willingly choose such surgeries all under the banner of beauty.

I wonder what was the purpose of foot binding. Was a tiny foot a sign of beauty? I’ve seen documents where women have put coils on their neck to stretcH them and eventually without the coils they couldn’t hold their head upright.

I never knew the removal of the little toe was done to fit the foot into stilettos.

I have a friend who had liposuction and eventually where they took the fat that area of her body sunk in and another surgery was necessary to tighten the skin there.

When she mentioned doing the procedure I said, “You are in good health now, don’t do something like this” But she went ahead with it.

Vanity is a terrible thing and we are bombarded with images of beautiful people that younger people want to look like. They don’t realize the health risks involved.

I think I’ve went on enough and never got to an opinion about the corset.😆

I love it!! Every word you wrote is great.

I’ve seen documents where women have put coils on their neck to stretch them and eventually without the coils they couldn’t hold their head upright.

I never heard of this. The foot binding was largely a class thing. Poorer, lower class women were not expected to meet this ideal of beauty. It was the privileged (!!!) who were given the gift of having their bones broken.

No more crazy than having your pinky toe amputated or botulinum injected into your body.

Thanks for the reblog and kind words. It's very gratifying.

AG, It is the women of the Thai Kayan tribe in Thailand that stretch their necks. They are often called "Giraffe Women” who follow this old tradition.


Thank you! I started reading about this last night.

Thanks for your report, I hadn't known about cutting off the toes. Crazy.

It is crazy, isn't it?
Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Much appreciated.

It's always so good to read you. You make publications that look more like literary essays.
A long time ago I had a book, almost a pillow book, that unravelled the theme of beauty. "Rodin on Art and Artists: Conversations with Paul Gsell".
From that point on, my perception of beauty changed. The artist's relationship with his work and the viewer's perception of beauty and ugliness when appreciating the work.

The pursuit of beauty transcends time and culture. It transcends gender.

Today with this publication you have reminded me of those readings.
Greetings @agmoore. It is healthy to read you

Hello @marcybetancourt,
Thank you for the visit. Always a pleasure to get feedback from you. If my blogs look like literary essays it may be because I let myself wander around in a subject before I write about it. It's an indulgence, because I'm pretty sure I spend far more time writing a blog than most people. I'm glad you can see that.
How are you? I hope you are peaceful and staying away from all things pandemic.
BTW: I'm going to see if I can get my hands on that book. Thanks for the referral.

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