Foot-binding was the historical Chinese practice of binding the feet of female children with tight bandages to prevent them from growing, small feet being considered more attractive, and an indication of high class - women with bound feet being incapable of most physical labour, or even of walking more than a few steps unassisted.
The practice is said to have originated in the imitation of the small-footed concubine Yao Niang of Song Dynasty prince Li Yu. Its adoption as a fashion by tens of millions of Chinese women over several centuries, probably represents the most widespread fetish in human history. 
Footbinding was a practice that originated to prevent women from running away from an oppressive home-life and give husbands greater control over their wives. Over time, foot-binding developed into a traditional mark of beauty, and the unbound foot became a social stigma--the sign of a peasant woman who was needed to work the fields.
Following the 1911 revolution of Sun Yat-Sen, the practice died out in all but remote rural areas, and only a small number of women with bound feet survive today.