Lotus feet is not a deformity. In China, it was a symbol of beauty. For generations, young women have had to break and shape their feet. The painful process is known as foot binding and that was believed to improve the marriage prospects of a girl and their desired length was three inches.
This practice took place in China from around the 10th century during the Song Dynasty and it continued for over 1000 years until it was made illegal in 1912. Young girls would have their feet bound to make them smaller to portray a sense of beauty and membership to a higher class of people.
It originally began with a dancer that used to perform for the emperor and she had bound her feet in the shape a half-moon to perform a specific dance on a giant lotus flower. The emperor found this woman so beautiful that the other woman in China wanted their daughters to be beautiful like her and in turn bound their feet.
The practice started on young ladies who were between the ages of 5 and 7 years old. Their parents or grandparents would soak their feet an herbal mixture to prepare them. When the young girls were ready, they would take their feet then they would take the four small toes, leaving the big toes alone and wrap them under the foot, wrapping it with a bandage. Then they would take the whole of the foot and fold it into an arch and wrap that with a bandage. It was extremely painful and the young girl would have a very difficult time walking on her feet. But after a few years, the foot would become numb. Every few years, every week, the foot would be unwrapped, washed, and wrapped again even tighter, and the hope is that with the magic of time and pressure, the foot would become as close to 3 inches as possible.
The practice was outlawed in 1912 when Mao Zedong came to power. Today foot binding is a rare sight but history is testimony that women modified their bodies to the whims and fancies of men.