Foot Fetishism, foot partialism, foot worship, or podophilia is a pronounced sexual interest in feet. It is the most common form of sexual preference for otherwise non-sexual objects or body parts.
Foot fetish has been defined as a pronounced sexual interest in the feet or footwear. Freud considered foot binding as a form of fetishism. For a foot fetishist, points of attraction include the shape and size of the foot and toes (i.e., long toes, Pointed reptilian toes, high arches or slender soles, fat toes), treatments e.g.: french pedicure, state of dress (i.e., barefoot or clad in socks or nylons), odor, and any form of sensory interaction.
In order to estimate the relative frequency of fetishes, researchers at the University of Bologna examined 381 Internet discussion groups, in which at least 5,000 people had been participating. Researchers estimated the prevalences of different fetishes based on (a) the number of discussion groups devoted to a particular fetish, (b) the number of individuals participating in the groups and (c) the number of messages exchanged. It was concluded that the most common fetishes were for body parts or for objects usually associated with body parts (33% and 30% respectively). Among those people preferring body parts, feet and toes were preferred by the greatest number, with 47% of those sampled preferring them. Among those people preferring objects related to body parts, footwear (shoes, boots, etc.) was most preferred (64%).
In August 2006, AOL released a database of the search terms submitted by their subscribers. In ranking only those phrases that included the word "fetish", it was found that the most common search was for feet.
Relationships to health and disease
Researchers have hypothesized that foot fetishism increases as a response to epidemics of sexually transmitted diseases. In one study, conducted by Dr. A James Giannini at The Ohio State University an increased interest in feet as sexual objects was observed during the great gonorrhea epidemic of twelfth century Europe and the epidemics of the 16th and 19th centuries in Europe. (The first surviving reference of foot fetish is by Bertold of Regensburg in 1220. In the same study, the frequency of foot-fetish depictions in pornographic literature was measured over a 30 year interval. An exponential increase was noted during the period of the current AIDS epidemic. The researchers noted that these epidemics overlapped periods of relative female emancipation. Sexual focus on female feet was hypothesized to be a reflection of a more dominant posture of the woman in sexual-social relations. Sexual foot play was viewed, also, as a safe-sex alternative.
Neurologist Vilayanur S. Ramachandran proposed that foot fetishism is caused by the feet and the genitals occupying adjacent areas of the somatosensory cortex, possibly entailing some neural crosstalk between the two.
Famous foot fetishists