The world of foot and shoe fetisism has always had me intrigued. From what I’ve learnt from those who go weak at the knees for feet and or shoes, to have this kind of fetish starts from a young age and isn’t just decided upon one day! Appreciating the sexyness of a woman in killer heels is one thing, but lusting after sweaty tootsies is quite another, so researching this fetish has been a true eye opener in both the fields of physchology as well as sexuality.
They say you cannot judge a man until you walk a mile in his shoes, so I put on my best footwear to find out the mystery behind such a taboo fetish.
Defining Foot Fetishism
Foot fetishism is a pronounced sexual interest in feet, more formally known as Podophelia. The most common of the non-sexual body parts to be lusted over, the foot is attractive to a fetishist in a variety of ways, including the shape and size of the foot and toes, toenails, jewelry (rings, ankle bracelets), state of dress (shoes, socks), odour, treatments (pedicures, massages) or sensory interaction (kissing, licking, tickling).
A foot fetish can also be referred to as Foot Partialism, which refers to as sexual interest with an exclusive focus on a specific part of the body, in this case the foot. This can be experienced by both heterosexual and homosexual individuals. Those who experience partialism have been known to describe the anatomy of interest to them (in this case the foot) as having equal or greater erotic attraction for them as do the genitals.
Defining Shoe Fetishism
Shoe fetishism, branching from shoe fetishism is the attribution of attractive sexual qualities to shoes or other footwear as a matter of sexual preference and an alternative or complement to a relationship with a partner. Also known as Retifism: an obsession with shoes or Altocalciphilia: a specific sexual obsession with wearing or seeing someone wear high heels.
Similarly to Podophelia, odour and sensory interaction are equally important to the fetishist to aid arousal and sexual stimulation.
A Walkthrough History…
Records go back to 1887 when Sigmund Freud was the first person to acknowledge, define and discuss foot fetishism. He discussed fetishism to be the displacement of sexual desire onto inanimate objects or body parts caused by the person’s struggle with the confrontation of the castration complex (when a child’s sexual activities are stopped by his father who he fears castration from because the young male child is considered to be in love with his mother). All very complex! Freud also described the fetish as occurring through exposure over time to an object (in this case, feet) while being sexually aroused. This form of conditioning is still theorised as the main reason why people have foot fetishes today!
Nowadays, foot fetishism is understood to be where a person may be aroused by the sight of feet to more extreme forms of arousal such as the desire to use the feet for sexual gratification. Even if a person is attracted to feet they can still be aroused by other forms of sexual contact such as kissing, hugging, fondling.
Foot fetishism is often considered to be unappealing by some as their personal experience of feet has been a negative one. Thinking of the sweatiness, smelliness, of blisters, corns and fungus that can appear on feet are enough to turn some noses up (or put pegs on them!) however, for others, this is no cause for concern as feet are so appealing to them!
There are other specific sexual interests along the continuum of Podophilia; these include the interest and arousal by someone’s lower limbs such as legs, knees or calves, however it is most common to be interested in the feet in particular. Also included is the adornment of feet, be it by nail polish, jewelry, shoes or clothing. The following interests are individually recognised and often associated with foot fetishists:
- Altocalciphilia refers to the sexual obsession with wearing or seeing someone wear high heels.
- Retifism refers to an obsession with shoes. This fetish is not directly a sexual one but is displayed with the more common obsession of purchasing and wearing shoes or boots. Women often have this fetish, as it is more about the sexy connotations of shoes in mainstream western culture and not necessarily about the sexual arousal of shoes.
Foot fetishism itself is surprisingly common. Academic studies on the prevalence and membership of fetish discussion groups have found that feet and foot accessories are the most fetishised of all non-genital body parts and objects. Nearly half of all such fetishes focus on feet, and almost two-thirds of fetishes for objects associated with the body are for shoes and socks.
Since considered to be a taboo (despite its common occurrence) it is also officially under- reported. It is known that men usually have foot fetishes, however, there is no information regarding the demographics of the men with this fetish, nor any percentages of how many men verses women have this fetish.
This Little Piggy Went to Market
Since the birth of the internet, fetishes that were once rarely heard of are now shared across communities of like-minded people. In August 2006, Wikipedia found that the top fetish searched on their site was for ʻfeetʼ and spin-off sites (such as Foot Fetish Tube) mimicking the video content site ʻYouTubeʼ are beginning to appear. Some go so far as to post online Podophilic events like “Footnight” of the “Foot Worship Party” for fetishists to attend and socialise.
Purely discussing, sharing and picturing the fetish does not stop there; sex toy manufacturers are starting to realise the popularity and potential by designing and producing toys such as the ʻPussy Footʼ, a jelly foot with a faux vaginal opening on its foot bed; ʻLittle Piggiesʼ, latex-free fake feet (cut off at the ankle) for footjobesque masturbatory play; and the ʻDildo Shoeʼ, a shoe resembling an orthopedic boot with a dildo attached to the top for a more literal interpretation of Podophilia! Similar style shoes have also been seen publicly on the likes of Lady Gaga with the heel fashioned from a dildo shape.
More than Just a Fetish…
There is a saying “too much of a good thing” that couldn’t be more true for some fetishists but not in a good way! It is possible for foot fetishism to become a clinical concern when it interferes with the normal sexual or social functioning of a person. The DSM-III-R (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published 1987) defines fetishism as:
‘A pattern of recurrent, intense sexual urges and sexually arousing fantasies involving the use of non-living objects that interferes with the personʼs capacity for reciprocal sexual activity.’
Cognitive therapy and psychoanalysis therapy are considered the main therapeutic treatments for this condition when it is considered to be at the level of a mental illness. In rare, but extreme cases, foot fetishism (as with any fetish) is only considered to be a serious condition if it is interfering with peopleʼs lives.
Podophilia and Retifism might still be considered to be taboo or even dark fetishes to some but modern evidence, largely represented on the internet, shows that they are much more common than people realise. Finally, people are able to succumb to their deepest fantasies without feeling like a freak or alone in their lustings, so long as it is indulged in healthily and does not affect others or their ability to live a normal, happy life. Whether you love buying shoes, or think feet are sexy, foot fetishism has its place in modern sexuality and is here to stay!
Just for Fun
Many celebrities are self-proclaimed foot fetishists, did you know that the following household names are:
- Quentin Tarantino
- Marilyn Manson
- Britney Spears
- Andy Warhol
- Christian Slater
- Jay Leno
- Dita Von Teese
- Elvis Presley
- Pharrell Williams
- Jack Black
- Ricky Martin
For more of the regular kink features from Emma, check out her archive!