Foot binding began in China in the 10th century during the reign of Emperor Li Yu after his favorite concubine performed a dance with her feet wrapped into hoof-like shapes. The maidens of the court took notice and began wrapping their feet in a similar fashion.
Upper-class women in China began following the trend, and it eventually spread to all classes, beginning in the south and spreading to the north. Girls between the ages of 4 and 6 had their feet bound to symbolize wealth and perfection. Foot binding was eventually outlawed in 1912, but some people still embraced tiny feet as a status symbol, and many women continued the practice in secret.