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Pair of cotton shoes, Sichuan, China, 1990s

These cotton shoes are light and flat for everyday wear. They have bright colourful stitching too.

Shoes for children in China were not always so comfortable, especially for girls. Small feet were a sign of beauty, so some baby girls had their feet bound up to stop them growing too big. Rich families did this at first, but later, most women in China had their feet bound. This changed the foot’s shape and made it hard to walk straight. Today, this no longer happens.

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