Fun With Feet: All You Need To Know About Foot Fetishism

The used panty marketplace

Foot fetishes are probably the most popular fetish out there. Even the most vanilla of us have probably heard of a foot fetish - but what exactly does it mean to have one?

Explained very basically, a foot fetish is a sexual interest in feet. What this means is that person might experience sexual excitement by licking, rubbing, tickling, sucking or otherwise engaging with feet. It might even mean person is sexually aroused by looking at images of feet, and not necessarily in a sexualised manner.  Podophilia (as it is also known) is by far the most common fetish, at least according to the Journal of sexual medicine.

So, the bottom line is - a whole lot of people are into feet!

However, it needs to be noted that there is no official study that answers the question as to why so many people are sexually aroused by feet. But, that's not to say that psychologists don't have their own ideas. 

Sex therapist Scott Jacobey boils foot fetishism down to having a sexual response to something mundane. And what could be more mundane than a foot?

But while the object of desire might be ordinary - the response to it most certainly is not! If you’ve ever wondered what all the fuss is about when it comes to feet; then read on. We’ll be taking a deep dive into the world of foot fetishism, as well as giving tips for the fledgling foot-worshipper.

Is a foot fetish the same as a shoe fetish? 

While having a sexual obsession with shoes is very likely to be linked with foot fetishism, one fetish or obsession does not need to rely on the other. Shoe fetishism is actually the act of attributing sexual qualities to shoes and other types of footwear (boots, sneakers or slippers for example), rather than worshipping the feet inside said shoes. While the two are obviously closely related, you might say that someone with shoe fetishism does not care whether the shoe has a foot inside it, and might find the shoe itself sexually pleasing. 

Foot fetishism on the other hand can be applied to the feet, whether or not they are wearing shoes. 

It must be noted, too, that although shoes may appear to have sexual connotations in culture, feet on the other hand do not. You only have to look at the way that high heels been sexualised to see how feet and consequently the shoes encasing them can become an object of sexual desire and arousal. Sometimes shoes with high heels can be viewed as a symbol of feminine power, sometimes they are a token of the ultimate femininity. Feet, on the other hand, are just - well - feet.

It is important to make this distinction - because plenty of men will admit to finding high heels or knee boots sexually arousing (when worn by a person). This does not mean that they have a foot fetish. So, while feet and shoes are closely linked in the realm of fetishes - they are not always mutually exclusive. 

What does having a foot fetish involve?

When somebody has a foot fetish, it usually means that they have sexualised feet to the point where they become a trigger for arousal, or used as a sexual aid during intercourse. The way that this presents itself will obviously differ from person to person. Some will feel the need to involve the feet during sexual encounters or masturbation in order to experience sexual pleasure, although this is not the same for everyone. 

You can think of a foot fetish as being a sliding scale; some people might find looking at pictures of feet, rubbing a woman's feet, or watching pornography that involves feet something that is very arousing and leads to better sex, or someone on the extreme end of the scale might enjoy foot gagging, foot worship, or crushing and stamping domination involving feet. There really is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to foot fetishes.

This sliding scale can also manifest itself in different ways. 

A person with a foot fetish might have different points of attraction, that is they may have different things about feet that get them excited. One person may enjoy long toes, high arches and painted toenails, while someone else might enjoy small feet encased in white socks, with a slightly dirty heel and maybe a little bit of foot odour. 

It really is a matter of personal preference. 

The sensory interaction that gets people going might differ from person to person too. So,rubbing or sucking someone's feet during intercourse might be appealing to one person, while viewing someone exhibiting the same behavior, or using their foot to the genitals might be something that gets a different person going.

What causes foot fetishism?

If you’re looking for a definite answer to the question ‘what causes a foot fetish?’ then I’m sorry to disappoint you - but, as with pretty much all sexual fetishes, there is no clear cut answer. There is, however, a fair amount of material and literature surrounding the subject - but it is just speculation.

If you were to ask Sigmund Freud (if he were around today) he’d say that feet are sexualized because they resemble penises. Yep - where Freud is concerned, everything comes back to penises! Ask The Naked Ape author Desmond Morris the same question, he would say it is a result of mal-imprinting at an early age. Explained very basically - in psychology, imprinting is defined as:

“A remarkable phenomenon that occurs in animals, and theoretically in humans, in the first hours of life.”

This ‘remarkable phenomenon’ usually just refers to newborn animals, and the way that they interact and form bonds with other animals shorty after birth (we call it bonding in humans). Malimprinting, on the other hand, is described as follows;

“the suffering of a defect in the behavioural process of imprinting, resulting in attraction to members of other species, fetishism, etc.”

Not surprising, then, that not everyone buys into this theory. Fetishism, in its various forms, is just too darned prevalent for it to be boiled down to a simple ‘defect’

So, is it abnormal to have a foot fetish?

While modern theories cannot seem to agree on what exactly causes someone to have a fetish, the term itself is actually hundreds of years old. It comes from the Portuguese word feitico, meaning ‘obsessive fascination’ - which makes total sense, particularly when you think about foot fetishes and all of the associated behaviors that come with having one - such as foot worship.

But since some literature goes so far as to class foot fetishism as a paraphilia (meaning that sexual arousal and gratification comes from something that is ‘atypical’, and isn’t technically sexual in and of itself), you might be wondering whether or not it is an abnormal behavior. 

This would depend entirely on what your definition of ‘abnormal’ is. But you can rest assured that it is extremely common (foot fetishism is actually reported to be the most common fetish out there - according to Psychology Today). But according to Dr. Justin Lehmiller - author of Tell Me What You Want  (a fascinating book about the science of sexual desire), there are some big misconceptions about foot fetishes. 

“People wrongly assume that having a foot fetish means you have a mental disorder,” Lehmiller says. But while fetishes can become a problem (for instance, if they are causing undue amounts of shame or distress to the person), the long and short of the matter is that it is OK to have a specific niche when it comes to sexual preference. Dr. Lehmiller puts it best:

“Fetishes don’t mean you have a mental problem or that you’re unable to establish healthy sexual or romantic relationships”

Indulging in foot play

If you’re reading this article, chances are you either have a foot fetish - or you’re curious to learn more about it. You may also be with someone with a foot fetish - or who you suspect has a foot fetish, and you want to learn a little more about how to embrace it.

If you search online for the term ‘foot fetish’, hundreds of web pages will show up in the search results; and the diversity of the results is quite staggering. In fact - it may very well be overwhelming for someone who is just dipping their toe into the world of foot fetishes (pun intended).

You’ll probably be faced with essays about the psychology behind podophilia, as well as pop culture articles listing ‘interesting’ facts. For example, did you know that Elvis Presley and Andy Warhol both had foot fetishes? Perhaps an interesting fact, but not all that useful to someone looking to indulge in this particular obsession.

As already stated at the beginning of this article, foot fetishes can be very specific - so it remains largely up to you to experiment with different types of content in order to identify which specific ‘lane’ you fall into with regard to your (or your partners) foot fetish. The following are considered to be some of the most prevalent facets of foot fetish:

  • Foot odor (enjoyment from sniffing the feet or the socks)
  • Foot jewelry (adornments on the feet - like toe rings, tattoos and even nail polish)
  • Certain shoes (podophilia is closely linked with shoe fetishism - so one may have an attraction to a certain type of shoe)
  • Particulars about the feet (attraction to a certain size and shape, long or short toes, the shape of the sole, the texture of the skin etc)
  • Foot treatments (excitement from giving and or receiving foot massages, footbaths etc)
  • Sensory interaction with the feet (rubbing, licking, tickling, kissing the feet  - as well as smelling)

These are some of the most common ‘triggers’ for sexual arousal for someone who has a foot fetish. But that’s not to say that individuals might not enjoy other things about feet in a very specific, sexually arousing manner. 

If you think you may have a foot fetish, but do not subscribe to one of the above ideals, then don’t worry. There’s a wealth of pornography, erotic fiction and other materials to help you explore your kink, should you so wish. 

Foot fetishism as it appears in culture and history

As already mentioned, the word fetish has its roots in history - but you might be interested to learn that foot fetishism in particular seems to reach back to ancient times. You’ll find historical paintings, sculptures and stories that show a distinct fascination with and admiration for this particular body part. Foot fetishism doesn’t seem to be bound by race, creed or color either - as you will see

The Countess With The Whip -  France

Martin Van Maële, a Parisian artist in the early 1900s, popularised foot fetishism through his illustration - The Countess With The Whip. The image depicts a scene of unabashed foot-worship, in which one woman licks the foot of another in an extremely erotic manner.

Foot binding  - China

This ancient chinese custom is perhaps one of the more extreme fascinations with feet. The custom involved binding a woman’s feet, squashing them and even breaking bones to re-form the foot and keep it tiny (under 10 centimeters according to some sources).

This was believed to give a woman status and femininity - as the disfigurement made it near impossible to work any kind of manual job - it was a practice reserved solely for the rich and noble. After all, if your feet are tiny and deformed, you’d better make sure you have enough money not to have to work for a living!

Foot worship in the ‘Love-Letters’ of Philostratus - ancient Greece

 “Do not torture your feet, my love, and do not hide them . . . walk softly and leave prints of your own foot behind you, for those who would love to kiss them.” These lines come from ‘Love Letters’  - a set of 64 Love Letters composed in the second century AD and purported to be authored by Greek sophist Philostratus. The love letters are bisexual, addressed to women and male youths and contain strong references to foot worship and podophilia. 

Foot binding in Freud’s ‘Fetishism’ - Austria

The undisputed founder of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, spoke about the subject of foot fetishism in his infamous 1927 paper Fetishism. He named foot binding as a form of the fetish. He viewed this behavior as variant of braid cutting that afflicted an entire society—men who endorsed the Chinese custom of mutilating the female foot and then revered it as a fetish.

Common myths and misconceptions about foot fetishism

As with most fetishes - there is a lot of misinformation out there, which can lead to certain myths and misconceptions about foot fetishes. Fetishism is something that is somewhat difficult to understand for someone who does not have a fetish themselves - so when the whole topic seems ‘odd’ it can be difficult to discern fact from fiction.

While there will undoubtedly be crossed wires when reading about fetishes - there are three particular myths that seem to come up time and time again.  

Myth 1: Foot fetishism is a ‘wrong’

This is perhaps the most prevalent misconception about foot fetishism. The idea that foot fetishists are perverted, odd or otherwise creepy is just not true. Foot fetishism is just like any other sexual attraction, such as being attracted to lace underwear or leather. A foot fetish is basically just another turn on

Myth 2: A foot fetish is ‘just a phase’

We tend to brush off any behavior that we don’t understand as ‘just a phase’, but this is generally not the case when it comes to fetishes. Once it is instilled in the brain, it does not go away - and it does not need to. It’s merely a preference, and is part of what makes up someone's sexual identity. 

Myth 3: A foot fetish can be ‘cured’

Worse than believing that a foot fetish is ‘just a phase’ some people also incorrectly believe that foot fetishism is a deviant behavior that needs to be cured. Again, this is simply not true. In fact, there is a strong belief in the psychology and science community that a fetish actually cannot be ‘cured’ - and any attempts to do so would likely be invasive and unethical.

How to indulge your foot fetish

Well, you’ve read this far - so that means you might be interested in incorporating foot-play into your sex life in some way - or you’re at least curious to see how to indulge in a foot fetish.

Now, as with all sexual experiences, what appeals to you will be very personal - so there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to foot fetish play. However, if you’re looking to dip your toe and indulge a little, there are a few things a newbie can try, before going into all-out toe-sucking mode during your next sexual encounter:

1)Read some foot fetish erotica

Reading erotic short stories can be a great way to delve a little deeper into your fantasy, and is easily accessible if you have an e-reader such as an Amazon Kindle. Erotica is great for people who do not want to watch pornography. It’s the perfect option for people who want to enjoy enjoy something a little less explicit, and is a great way to experience foot fetishism in a discreet way. Such self-published titles as “A Night With Her Feet” and “Foot Worship At The Movies” look particularly promising.

2)Search foot fetish hashtags

If you have access to social media platforms such as Instagram, you can search foot-fetish-friendly hashtags, to see what images the foot fetish community is uploading and sharing. When using hashtags, it’s important to be specific - searching for #feet will likely throw back a bunch of images that were not uploaded with fetishism in mind, and are likely not what you’re looking for (plus, you’d have to question whether this is ethical). Some specific hashtags on Instagram include #footfetishcommunity and #footfetishgroup - which are obviously specific to this particular paraphilia. 

3)Ask for foot pics

The next time you’re exchanging naughty messages or nudes - you can switch things up a little and ask for foot pics instead. This is a straight-up, unabashed way of showing what you’re into - and could indeed lead to better sexual communication with your potential partner in the future. Plus - it’s good fun!

4)Try some foot worship

If you’re with a consenting partner - you can give some foot worship a try. This can range from simply giving a foot massage, to toe sucking , to a full-on footjob! The beauty of foot worship is that it is a very safe form of erotic play; no risk of unplanned pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases - and you don’t even have to get undressed if you don’t want to!

A final note on foot fetishism

One thing to remember about foot fetishism is that it is healthy, normal and far more popular than you might think.

But it must also be noted that, as with all fetishes, there is a danger that the fetish can become completely one-sided, only serving one partner and not the other. If you have a foot fetish, then it can be important to consider how you can pleasure your sexual partners, while also receiving the stimulation that you need. After all, most people will not gain all that much pleasure from having their toes licked or their feet kissed.

Of course, you could sidestep this and opt for silicone foot sex toys, thus eliminating the need for a sexual parner altogether, but chances are thats not going to be your thing. Best advice i=would be to be respectful and conscientious of your partner and their needs, pay attention to their pleasure (as well as your own), and learn how to give darned good foot-rubs.

It’s a win-win scenario!