Foot fetish

No More Tiptoeing: The Foot Fetish, Explained

Among all the fetishes (and there are many!) in the world, a foot fetish is one of the most prevalent. In fact, it has been found to be the most fetishised part of the body, excluding the genitals.

But having a foot fetish is far more intriguing and complex than you may have thought. And if you’re one of many who have this fetish, finding someone who shares your inclination has never been easier – thanks to the vast corners of the Internet.

Foot fetish

Online forums exist for podophiles (someone who has a sexual attraction to feet), some containing nearly 45,000 members. These platforms offer like-minded individuals a judgment-free space in which to discuss and indulge in their desires

One such channel is Reddit, an exceedingly popular online forum, with (mostly) women uploading photographs of their feet for podophiles to comment on and enjoy.

And even those who haven’t taken an active role in online foot fetish forums were noticed in a study conducted by AOL in 2006. The study showed that the most searched fetish on their platform at that time, was the foot fetish (Internet users, you can run but you can’t hide).

So, before we dive into the world of foot fetishism, let’s get acquainted with some terminology and facts.

When is an Interest Considered a Fetish?

A fetish is when someone has a sexual attraction to either an inanimate object or a body part that’s not been traditionally sexualised. 

And while those who have a fetish can lead normal and healthy lives, those who find themselves lacking arousal without their fetishised object or body part, and/or a decreased social functioning because of their fetish(es), could be diagnosed with fetishism disorder.

A fetishism disorder, according to the DSM-5, is when a person has a dependence on non-living items (underwear, socks etc.) or a deep focus on a specific body part (belly, feet etc.), so much so, that they need this item or body part in order to reach sexual gratification.  

Interestingly, the DSM-5 also says that fetishes pertain almost exclusively to men.

The Different Dimensions of a Foot Fetish

Because we’re all so amazingly diverse, having a foot fetish is not simply a (sexual) attraction to feet, end of conversation. Podophiles can fetishise an array of objects or body parts, such as socks, shoes, and foot accessories. They too can get turned on by the act of foot worshipping. 

There are also fellow humans who are simply attracted to the aesthetic of the foot, but in a non-sexual way. But according to Dr. Anil Aggrawal and Dr. Brenda Love, these people would not be classified as a foot fetishist.

And to be more specific, those who have this fetish may be looking at:

  • The size of the foot: the length, the toes, and the heel.
  • The shape of the foot: flat, arched etc.
  • Foot accessories and decoration: tattoos, jewellery, pedicured toenails with nail varnish etc.
  • How the foot feels
  • How the foot smells
  • Footwear (known as retifism, a fetish for shoes)
  • The naked foot (known as aretifism, a fetish for bare feet)

In fact, on FetLife alone, a BDSM and kink social networking website, there are over 2,000 fetishes listed pertaining to feet. Some include:

  • Footjobs
  • Foot tickling
  • Foot and toe kissing
  • Stinky feet worship
  • Foot rubs with feet kissing and toe sucking
  • Foot fucking
  • Foot smothering
  • Being used as a footstool
  • Barefoot face walking and standing
  • Foot caning
  • Barefoot women outside
  • Foot punishment

See? We did say that having a foot fetish is far more intriguing and complex than you may have thought! To further explain…

Foot Fetishism and Submission

In conjunction with the thoughts and studies mentioned above, it’s also worthy to note that foot fetishism is strongly linked to submission and humiliation – two aspects of the BDSM lifestyle.

For many, especially men, indulging in this fetish is a means to submit and ‘surrender’ to a woman. Some believe that it’s impossible to stoop any lower than a person’s feet, which results in a feeling of full submission. 

Why is it more prevalent among men? According to Jessie Sage, a writer for Pittsburgh City Paper:

“Kinks are often more powerful for people if they are in direct opposition to their general experience of the world. Something is only taboo when it isn’t what you’re supposed to want. And in a world where men still are in positions of power, where they control most of the wealth, female domination becomes fetishized.”

Having said this, there are various facets to foot fetishism, like sensual foot rubbing and adoring, which doesn’t always correlate to submission and humiliation. 

But let’s hear from the professionals…

What Do The Professional Say?

Various professionals within different disciplines have undergone studies on the fascination that some have for feet. 

Here are four different perspectives, based on their research:

  1. Sigmund Freud claimed that people experienced this fetish because of the feet’s phallic-like appearance. But then again – he did have quite a sexualised and vivid outlook on many things.
  2. More recent researchers, such as Vilanayar Ramachandran, a neuroscientist and director of the Centre for Brain and Cognition at the University of California, has a different opinion on the matter.
    Ramachandran says that his eureka moment was whilst studying brain malfunctions that lead to phantom limb syndrome (when an amputee believes that their limbs are still attached to the body).
    He brought to light the fact that the part of the brain that’s stimulated by genitals sits comfortably alongside the part of the brain concerning body image. And so, he believes that someone who has a foot fetish has simply experienced a bit of cross-wiring in the brain.
  3. Dr. Love, on the other hand, believes that one’s childhood and upbringing plays a big role in the formulation of this particular fetish. She says:
    “There are many reasons feet are said to be arousing. Feet are often the first part of a mother or father which a toddler touches. Likewise, parents often play with their toddlers by pushing them with their feet or letting them ride one of their feet.”
    She also believes that this fetish could be brought about by the taboo factor, claiming it is an obstacle harder to attain than the genitals. She says:
    “Another aspect involved in the sexual attraction of feet is that love objects always have a barrier or obstacle to attainment, and feet are less available to many partner’s than the genitals.”
  4. And in a different perspective, Dr. James Giannini conducted a study to which he found an increase in foot fetishism during the STI and HIV/AIDS epidemic, respectively. A possible conclusion was that many began exploring this fetish as a safe-sex alternative.

So, fancy yourself a foot fetishist? What do you think motivates your foot-fuelled frenzy?

Check this out: A Formal Introduction to International Fetish Day