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BOXES beyond borders

Tight Fit

Hew Soo Hun
Singapore 2001

This piece of work explores the notion of restriction and objectification by juxtaposing an old-time practice of foot binding with fashionable high heeled shoes.  Pain, in both historical and contemporary context, is symbolized by the shrouded shoe.  Times may have changed, but certain perceptions of women remain deeply entrenched.  In the past, women were obliged to have their feet bound in order to be considered beautiful and desirable by men.  Having small feet was a symbol of stature and gentility.  Hence, women’s feet were forcibly bound to fit into dainty, three-inch long shoes.  Today, women subject themselves to the pain and discomfort of three-inch (or more!) high shoes to enhance their feminine appeal.  Yet, hidden behind the glossy look is this sense of inadequacy and the desire to be looked at.  Are we now considered willing participants of a game of restrictive beauty, to the point of disregarding the possible hazards by wearing heels?

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