Cinderella's Lessons on Footbinding: How Tiny Feet Found their Way into the Chinese Cinderella Story
Scott Smith, Tyler
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The story of Cinderella has had many variants, some dating back to ancient Tibetan trade routes and dynastic China. When the tale is analysed in comparison to other variants it is found that in the Chinese version Yeh-Shen (Cinderella) is prized for the small size of her feet. The result of Yeh-Shen having small feet in the story is that she is led her into wealth, power and marriage, the same pursuable goals that led to the custom of footbinding. In southern China the custom of footbinding became a historically defining feature of the society. A women's beauty and her delicacy were judged by the size of her feet, and small feet were the aim of the binding. Small feet played such an important role in the society that it can be found as early as the ninth century C.E., in the traditional oral story, Yeh-Shen.