A pair of Chinese Lotus slippers circa 1920s. These would have been used in the traditional practice of foot binding. The practice was banned in 1949 by the Communists, and the ban has remained in effect to this day.
A young child being subjected to the practice would have their feet soaked, receive a pedicure, and then have each toe broken, bent underneath the bottom of the foot, and then tightly bound to "heal" in their new, deformed shape, resulting in permanent disfigurement. These women were crippled for life as a result of this barbaric practice.
Why on earth anyone would think that tiny, crushed, disfigured feet were in any way attractive, is beyond my comprehension. People are weird, and cruel.
via Flickr http://flic.kr/p/fD4G6H