“O feet unfettered! O unhampered beauty! Thrice happy me and blessed, if on me ye tread!”
With over twelve years of experience as a dominatrix, the above could have easily appeared numerous times in my inbox, albeit in usually less poetic guises.
Written however by the third-century sophist Philostratus in a love letter some time around the mid 200s, it is a fine example of a predilection for podophilia (careful now) being very much an enduring theme for the ages.
Theories abound regarding the origins of any particular foot fetish, and, much like other kinks and quirks, there’s often no real official conception story; you’re just wired that way, and that’s ok.
For some it’s almost certainly linked to experience or association from their formative years: many psychologists cite the security, kindness and love felt at the feet of a mother or teacher.
As you would expect, Freud also had opinions about these desires and said feet were phallic in nature, and also reminded boys of trying to look up the matriarchal skirt. (The Motherfooter.)
Reading into the origins of Podophilia, an often-quoted University of Bologna study from 2007 (in which apparently highly masochistic researchers trawled through 381 internet discussions of 5,000 people in online fetish groups) found that the most common fetish mentioned was for specific body parts, and of those preferring body parts, an impressive 47% preferred feet and toes.
But why feet specifically?
“The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art.”
Leonardo da Vinci.
It’s important to recognize that in the Top Trumps of “Body parts that are usually classed as non-sexual”, the feet are remarkable structures of around 200,000 nerve endings, 26 bones, all connected by 33 joints and over a 100 of ligaments, tendons and muscles, resulting in an appendage that is sensitive, supple, strong and, during evolution, vital for survival via proprioception to sense the environment beneath us.
A real winning card in what sounds like a potentially quite creepy game, only really losing points for being crippled by rogue plugs and Lego bricks.
It doesn’t take a great deal of imagination to see how the feet end up being revered and desired; for starters they’re so integral to one’s general health and wellbeing, and are usually the points of connection between person and earth.
A glance at a Reflexology chart of the foot displays how many see the soles of the feet being as connected to the rest of the body as the brain itself.
Being “grounded” is a huge factor in feeling confident and in control – notice the rise in the sometimes bewildering “power stances” from our Politicians and CEOs.
There are multiple Biblical and historical references to the act of washing feet as a deferential, even reverential act of servitude. On the most basic and literal level the simple act of being at a person’s feet; being lower than or beneath them, is a particularly potent image of power exchange.
Whilst for some this position is a way to show respect and perform an act of service and praise, for others the draw is the concept of being lesser, or unworthy to be in the presence of the owner of the feet.
A devotee of the former may massage or respectfully kiss the feet for the benefit and pleasure of the foot owner.
The latter however may wish to be trodden on, crushed underfoot, ignored, even humiliated; there’s a reason that “being walked all over” or “being a doormat” are used as derogatory terms for someone weak willed or highly submissive.
Even within the realms of worship, there are vastly differing opinions over what constitutes the “perfect” foot; soft skin, well-trodden, large, small, polished, bare toes, exquisitely clean and fresh right through to heavily pungent and soiled.
The latter is a common request for both worship and humiliation sessions, and as someone whose feet do not get especially sweaty or smelly, this can be quite tricky to achieve. (My method for that one is usually to schedule a gym workout in non-breathable socks beforehand and then put them back on after showering the rest of me. One man’s utter disgust is another man’s utopian dream.)
Size doesn’t necessarily matter for all, either – most sizes can nicely cover an entire face, or, in singular form, curve wickedly across a mouth. There’s something very powerful about every breath gasped by the supplicant beneath you being laced with the heady scent of your toes, or drawn past every single wrinkle on your arched sole.
Perhaps an obvious assumption when foot fetish is mentioned is the act of direct stimulation with the feet both on the genitals, and also by penetration of genitals and mouth.
Pushing toes and feet into the greedy mouth of a fervent foot admirer can be enough to tip them over the edge, and the sheer violative element makes for excellent power play and pure humiliation.
(If you want abs of steel, forget sit-ups and work on those double foot-jobs. Your willing victim gets the overwhelming view of those wrinkled arches pressed together, and the extra distance created by keeping him beyond even arm’s length can be used to add a delicious element of denial and control.)
Of course, Fetish being what it is, there’s plenty of room for crossover and all varieties of consensual play and exploration are valid.
Whether it’s someone wishing to roleplay a bodyguard who is literally “brought to heel” by the strong, deft feet of the person they were protecting, an eager submissive being rewarded with the chance to prostrate themselves to lick dirty soles clean, or a devoted worshipper existing only to bring pleasure or comfort with no expectation of reciprocation or return; if you think some element of podophilia is your libido’s glass slipper, you’re most definitely not alone.
As W.B Yeats almost certainly did not write about a foot fetish:
Tread softly, for you tread on my dreams.