A sexual fetish (known scientifically as a “paraphilia”) is a sexual interest in, or response to, objects, activities, or body parts not typically associated with sex. Of all the paraphilias, the foot fetish is among the most common: According to a study led by cognitive scientist Claudia Scorolli, people with foot fetishes accounted for almost half of participants in online fetish forums.
Many celebrities have been open about their foot fetishes. Quentin Tarantino, Ludacris, Britney Spears, Pharrell Williams, Alex Rodriguez and Dita von Teese—just to name a few. Even Andy Warhol, Elvis Presley, James Joyce, Casanova, and Fyodor Dostoyevsky reportedly had a thing for feet.
What does “foot fetish” mean exactly? How does it work?
We know that many people are sexually attracted to feet—but what exactly does that mean? The term “foot fetish” encompasses a wide range of interests and desires. For some, the shape and size of feet is key to their appeal: exceptionally large or small feet, long toes, flat feet, and high arches all have their admirers. Others are drawn to the well-accessorized foot, and take particular pleasure in immaculate pedicures, toe rings, and specific types of footwear (spike heels, strappy sandals, gym shoes). Others enjoy varying levels of foot odor, from lightly aromatic to seriously stinky.
In addition to the physical characteristics of feet enjoyed by foot fetishists, there are many different activities relating to feet—both sexual and non-sexual—that can bring pleasure to both the giver and receiver. Massaging, kissing, licking, and otherwise “worshiping” feet is extremely popular.
Is a foot fetish normal?
Foot fetishes, while not something everyone is into, are common and totally normal. Although we may not understand exactly why one person is aroused by a soft sole or a perfect pedicure, a foot fetish is nothing to be ashamed of; in fact, having this interest can enrich your sex life, build intimacy between partners, and be a great source of fun and pleasure.
What’s a “foot job”?
A “foot job”—using the feet to stimulate the genitals—is another activity that some foot fetishists enjoy. Some foot-centric activities are directly related to domination and submission: being trampled, forced to sniff smelly shoes and socks, or having feet shoved in their face are major turn-ons to a subset of foot fetishists.
Why do people have foot fetishes?
Why feet? Theories abound. Some speculate that fetishes (including a love of feet) arise from childhood experiences, during which a non-sexual activity, object or body part is associated with sexuality in the developing mind. Elvis Presley and Tommy Lee (founding member of Mötley Crüe and Pamela Anderson’s ex) both attributed their foot fetishes to massaging their mothers’ feet as children. Sigmund Freud theorized that the foot, with its vaguely phallic shape, represents a penis. In a paper exploring the phenomenon of phantom limbs, neuroscientist V.S. Ramachandran theorized that, since the feet and genitals occupy neighboring spots in the brain’s sensory region, neural plasticity could help account the sexualization of feet.
There may be a cultural aspect to the prevalence of foot fetishes: Feet have deep symbolic significance in many cultures worldwide. In Hindu culture, touching the feet of an elder, spiritual leader, or other important individual is a mark of respect and reverence. Some Christian communities practice ritual foot washing as a demonstration of service and religious devotion. Some cultures consider feet unclean: In many Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian societies, pointing the sole of your foot towards someone is considered exceptionally rude.
Feet can be objects of worshipful devotion or deep disgust. They are full of nooks and crevices, often smelly, and laden with cultural significance. In these respects, feet have a lot in common with the genitals—it’s not such a stretch to understand why so many people find them sexually arousing.
What’s it like to have a foot fetish?
O.school asked self-identified foot fetishist and member of Fetlife — a social networking site for kinky people — who goes by “footdan” about his experiences. For him, the sense of submission and surrender entailed by worshipping a woman’s feet is key. He first discovered his love of feet when he was 19, and visited a woman offering tantra sessions. Describing this first encounter, footdan explained: “I’d never seen a woman with feet as big as mine…When she pushed the ball of her foot to my lips, I fell into complete submission… It was a combination of feeling weak, helpless and pathetic along with the size of her feet.”
Ever since then, footdan has found himself drawn to women’s feet. When asked what he enjoys the most about feet, he replied that the process of lavishing worshipful attention on a woman’s feet is an incredible turn-on: “I like the size and shape of a woman's feet, I love soft soles, high arches and long, suckable toes… I love to kiss, lick, nibble and massage soles, suck on toes and absolutely LOVE bare feet rubbed aggressively on my face.”
When asked how having a foot fetish has affected his relationships —given that people are sometimes stigmatized or rejected after they reveal their kinks —he replied: “My foot fetish hasn't affected my relationships in any way. Most women seem open to experiencing foot worship at least once. Most are surprised by the sensations, how good it feels on their feet as well as how erotic it can be.”
How can someone who is—or thinks they may be—into feet begin to explore the world of foot fetishes? What’s foot booru?
Porn can be a low-stakes way to familiarize yourself with a new interest. Enter hentai (pornographic anime popular in Japan): a quick Internet search for “foot hentai” revealed pages and pages of skillfully rendered, sexy foot fetish illustrations and cartoons. (Sites with user-generated content—such as the image boards at footfetishbooru.booru.org—allow you to avoid porn sites that also host potentially unethical material.) You can also explore feminist porn sites which, while they may not be specifically geared towards foot fetishes, feature consenting humans with sexy feet.
What are some foot play ideas to try with your partner?
There are many fun, easy ways to incorporate foot play into your sex life. if you or your partner are interested in experimenting. Start slowly, with massage and gentle kissing. If that feels good, you can experiment with toe licking and sucking, tickling, and maybe even a foot job. Selecting fancy footwear and nail painting is another way that couples can connect if either partner has a foot fetish (or if you both do!). As with any form of sex play, communication is key: Make sure to check in with your partner regularly to see what feels good and what doesn’t.