Contrary to popular belief, most people don’t find feet to be disgusting. Quite the opposite, actually: Foot fetishism, which is having admiration for or sexual attraction to feet, is the most common fetish for typically non-sexual objects in the United States. And that means there are thousands, if not millions, of people out there who love everything about feet. But what exactly does it mean to have or to date someone with a foot fetish? We explore foot fetishism and foot worship, both in today’s world and throughout history, so you can put your best foot forward when it comes to the world’s number one sex fetish.
- Foot Fetish In Brief: Must-Know Fetish Facts
- Foot Fetish Types: From Foot Worship To Toe Sucking
- Foot Fetishism In Culture And History
- Scientific Explanations For Foot Fetishism
- Foot Fetishism And Dating: How To Incorporate Foot Play Into Your Relationships
- Foot fetishism is described as a pronounced sexual interest in feet, heels, toes and ankles. It is also called podophilia and foot partialism.
- There are many types of foot fetishism, from being turned on by bare feet, toe sucking, shoes, foot shape and even foot odor.
- Foot fetishism is quite common and therefore is hypothesized to stem from the fact that both the feet and the genitalia occupy the same cortex in the brain.
- Podophilia is not a new phenomenon; it the most common sexual fetish in the world and dates back many centuries in almost all cultures.
- A 2006 study by AOL found that 86% of Internet users who type in the term “fetish” also included the word “foot” — which further proves it’s one of the most popular sexual fetishes on the planet.
- Both men and women can be foot fetishists, but it is more common in men.
- Many well-known people and celebrities are known to have a foot fetish, including Quentin Tarantino, Andy Warhol, Jay Leno, Marilyn Manson, Elvis Presley, and Giacomo Casanova.
Foot fetishism is defined as pronounced sexual interest in feet, but not every foot fetishist is turned on solely by the sight of bare feet. A person with a foot fetish may also be interested in or attracted to:
- Particulars about the feet (foot size, long toes vs. short toes, high arches, sole shape, painted toenails, etc.)
- Foot jewelry (toe rings, anklets, foot tattoos and other markings)
- Foot odor
- Foot treatments (foot massage, pedicures and foot baths, for example)
- Shoes (sandals, high heels and stilettos, flip flops)
- Shoe jobs (which is when shoes are used to create sexual stimulation — high heels included)
- Hosiery (socks, tights, pantyhose, etc.)
- Sensory interaction (licking, rubbing, kissing, biting and smelling the foot, as well as licking and sucking the toes)
- Foot jobs and toe jobs (which is when a person uses his or her feet to stimulate a penis and cause orgasm)
- Foot worship, which is when most sexual emphasis is placed on the feet
- Foot slave, which is when a partner submits to the foot fetish desires of her or her partner
Any of these things — including just the mere sight of feet — can lead to orgasm.
Believe it or not, researchers have found that a fascination with feet stems back to ancient times. Kinky foot sculptures, paintings, drawings, stories and more have surfaced in various cultures around the world. Here are just a few examples of foot fetishism in various cultures and time periods:
China: Perhaps one of the most extreme examples of foot fetishism, the ancient Chinese were in the habit of binding female feet and even breaking the foot bones in order to keep women’s feet tiny and under 10 centimeters. The mutilation — called the Golden Lotus — resulted in a small, delicate (and crippling) walking style found to be the epitome of beauty and femininity. The outrageously painful, horrible disfigurement became a standard beauty routine and hasn’t fully disappeared to this day: Most of the culture’s final foot binders have passed away, but there are a few surviving women whose ages pass their tiny shoe size numbers by two digits.
France: It’s no secret that the French have quite an erotic history, but an early 20th century Parisian artist known by the name of Martin van Maële brought foot fetishism to the masses via illustrations like The Countess With The Whip, which portrays foot worship via one woman erotically licking the foot of another.
Austria: Famed founder of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, touched on the topic of foot fetishism in his 1927 paper Fetishism. He named foot binding as a form of the fetish.
19th Century Europe: A high incidence of foot fetishism occurred in 19th century Europe, with many historical anthropologists believing fashion may have had something to do with the foot fetish trend. Philippe Perrot, author of Fashioning the Bourgeoisie, wrote that “in the 19th century, female bosoms and behinds were emphasized, but legs were completely hidden [by long skirts], distilling into the lacey foam of underwear an erotic capital, the returns of which could be gauged by the cult of the calf and the arousal caused by the glimpse of an ankle.”
Sexual tendencies are notoriously difficult to explain, but there are two popular hypotheses that may shed light on the occurrence of foot fetishism:
1. Feet and Genitalia Share The Same Cortex In The Brain
Neurologist Vilayanur S. Ramachandran has proposed that foot fetishism may be caused by crosstalk in the brain: Both the feet and genitals occupy adjacent areas of the somatosensory cortex and could therefore, as he describes, interchange. One example he used to back up his claims involved amputees who reported having orgasms in their feet.
2. It May Be A Response To Epidemics of Sexually Transmitted Infections
Researchers such as Ohio State University’s Dr. A James Giannini have noted an increase of foot fetishism during epidemics of sexually transmitted infections. For example, Giannini found that an interest in feet as sexual objects heightened during the gonorrhea epidemic of 12th century Europe, as well as during the syphilis epidemics of 16th and 19th century Europe. An increase of foot fetishism has also been observed during the current AIDS epidemic that began in the 1980s. Researchers suggest that perhaps the feet are considered “safe” during time periods when mouths and genitalia are not.
Despite its commonality, foot festishism remains publicly repulsive. This creates a situation in which many people with a foot fetish are afraid to reveal their sexual cravings to a partner. Until the misconceptions with foot fetishism clear, it may be helpful for foot fetishists to start slow when revealing a sexual attraction toward feet to a partner, and for partners of foot fetishists to be willing to dip their toes (so to speak) into the world of foot fetishism.
For Foot Fetishists: It’s important to be honest and direct with your partner about what turns you on, but that doesn’t mean it has to be scary. Help your partner get excited about foot fetishism by initially suggesting “socially acceptable” foot play activities like foot massage and light foot kissing. From there, who knows what could happen!
For Partners Of Foot Fetishists: Don’t be scared or assume that your partner is a “freak” because of his or her fascination with feet. As mentioned above, having a foot fetish is actually quite common, and it can be a safe and healthy way to further explore your sexuality as an individual and as a couple. Try slowly stepping into the world with small actions like wearing high heels during intimacy, giving or accepting foot massages and sending your partner photos of your feet. He or she will no doubt fall over head over heels with you for your efforts.