Lotus Feet & the Ilizarov Procedure

The dramatic swing in the size-ideals in China is represented in the contrast between the widespread popularity of tiny Lotus Feet, as a result of foot binding, and the contemporary practise of leg prolongment using the equally painful method developed by the Russian physician Gavril Ilizarov. Afraid of being rejected by boy friends and professional colleges, more and more short-statured Chinese girls are queuing up for a painful and expensive cosmetic leg-lengthening surgery. “I can take the pain, I feel great. I am going to stretch my legs by 10 centimetre and then I will continue my studies,” Yun Yun says bravely from her hospital bed while showing off her two broken legs in metal frames. The 17-year-old girl, only 147centimetre tall decided to undergo cosmetic leg- lengthening surgery to become tall, the ‘Shanghai Star’ reports on the latest fad in the modern Chinese society. With her 147 centimeter, Yun Yun’s job opportunities are very limited. She would not be tall enough to qualify for many universities. For example, law schools accept females only over 155 centimetre and males should be over 165 centimetre saying that short advocates or judges will lack authority in court, the report said. Foreign language departments and most international oriented studies have height requirements as well.

From the aesthetics of small to the aesthetics of tall. What feeds these size-ideals, and how can we tap into them in order to revive the ideal of being small?

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