Meet Beijing's last surviving ladies with bound feet

Humans of China hears amazing stories from six elderly Beijingers

All images: Cameron Hack/Humans of China
It's estimated that, at its nineteenth-century peak, foot binding was carried out on as high as 50 percent of China's female population, though the controversial practice has largely disappeared in the past century. But it's not yet history – we hear the amazing stories of some of the last surviving ladies with bound feet in Beijing.

Cameron Hack is a Beijing-based British photographer behind the Humans of China project, 'exploring China one person at a time'. Check out the WeChat account (ID: Humans-of-China) for more extraordinary stories from seemingly ordinary people.

'If I didn't make my feet small, no boy would want me'

I was born in 1922, so this year I am 96 years old. I live and have always lived in the countryside in Beijing. I've only visited the city centre once, for a wedding. At 17 years old, I married my husband in an arranged marriage. I met him the day we married and because I had bound feet and my ...

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'We survived on weeds from the pond and husk from the corn'

I live by three simple principles: Eat well. Play as much as possible. Always buy and wear beautiful clothes. I was born in 1931, so this year I am 87 years old. I am originally from Hebei but I now live in Beijing, and have lived here for around four years. I much preferred Beijing before, ...

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'The groom and his family first looked at my feet, not my face'

I was born in 1922, so I am 96 years old. I am one of the last remaining ladies in Beijing with bound feet and I am the only one left in my village. I started to bind my feet around the age of six years old. It was a long and painful process taking a few years to complete, but I had no choice ...

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'I am 102 years old, and I have seen a lot'

I am one of the last remaining ladies in Beijing with bound feet, and probably the oldest. My mum started to bind my feet at the age of six. The bones in the feet are still soft then, so it's a good time to start the process. I didn't really know what was happening, but I trusted and listened ...

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'I'm quite happy, even though I have lived a hard and sad life'

This year, I am 97 years old. At five years old, my mum started to bind my feet. It was very painful and a long process. I only stopped binding my feet when China was liberated. At nighttime, I would wear the white cloth that my mother had sewn together, plus socks and shoes. My sister was ...

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‘It was extremely painful, night and day’

I am 96 years old. I started to bind my feet at the age of seven, with the help of my mother. It took about two years, and it was extremely painful both night and day. I started so that I could find a husband, and she always told me that if I had big feet no one would want to marry me. I ...

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