Amelia Stuart - Five Minutes of Science - Footbinding

The act of binding the feet from an early age (5-7)  so that the foot would essentially fold in half.
said to be inspired by a tenth century dancer in the Emperor's court who “bound her feet in the shape of a new moon” It gradually became a status symbol among the upper class and eventually became a rite of passage for all women.
All the toes (except the big toe) are folded back and bound flat across the sole of the foot (making a triangle shape). The girls were forced to walk either back and forth in their rooms or long distances with their feet like this so that the toes and arches would break. Over time the wrappings and shoes became tighter and smaller as the toes and heel were pulled together.  
The “ideal” length of a bound foot was 3 inches and a woman’s marriage prospects almost entirely depended on the size of her foot. Represented the height of female refinement and foot size became a form of currency and a means of achieving upward mobility Despite the pain, millions of Chinese woman stood by their devotion to the tradition. People became blind to the torture that they were inflicting on their daughters; no doubt the effect of centuries of foot-binding becoming a form of social status.