It seems like everyone and their mother has a foot fetish these days. Everywhere you look there are advertisements sexualizing feet, porn exploring feet, and that guy from the bar staring a little too intently at your toes. But has this fetish been here the whole time and folks are finally accepting it – or is this foot-related arousal new? What makes feet so uniquely exciting compared to arms, elbows, or calves? Let’s discuss!
When explaining their particular excitement towards feet, a fellow with a foot fetish shared, “It’s like trying to explain to someone what’s so sexy about asses or breasts. You can talk all you want about how soft, round and cute they are, but if someone doesn’t get it on their own, no amount of explaining will change that. The same is true for feet. They just look beautiful to me. I could tell you that I like nice, round toes, nicely curved arches, well-shaped soles etc. but it wouldn’t mean anything to you.” Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and, when enjoying feet, it seems that you either get it – or you don’t.
What is a foot fetish?
A foot fetish, or podophilia, is when someone is sexually excited by feet. Although some folks are aroused by their own feet, most people with this fetish are turned on by other people’s feet and enjoy observing, feeling, and sometimes tasting feet. Folks with this fetish have distinct preferences, with some enjoying larger, smellier feet and others preferring clean, dry feet with perfectly painted toes. For some folks, playing with feet can be a stand-alone experience. Others prefer incorporating foot play into other sexual activities, such as licking feet during intercourse, engaging in a foot job, or even foot penetration.
Why do people develop foot fetishes?
Some neurological evidence may explain the development of a foot fetish. A sensory map in your brain represents each part of your body that experiences sensations. In this map, the feet and the genitals are right beside each other. As a result, due to slight neutral misfirings, the genitals and feet may become neurologically linked. Fascinating evidence for this relationship comes from folks who have experienced a foot amputation. It was found that some folks had a neural rewiring after their amputation, which led their phantom foot to become sexualized. Perhaps due to the lack of a physical representation of their feet, the two areas neurologically merged, making it so some folks could experience pleasure and even orgasms through their missing feet!
For others, a foot fetish may develop through our early childhood experiences. For example, having a significant experience that associates feet with arousal may lead to the development of a fetish. If one of your first sexual experiences involves an older woman who wears sexy heels, or if your crush wiggles their toes in your face during truth or dare, this may lead to you sexualizing feet and developing a fetish.
Some people may think of feet as disgustingly sexy. It has been shown that when folks become aroused, they are less bothered by things that would have grossed them out otherwise. For example, a study found that aroused people are less disgusted by touching someone’s dirty underwear or looking at pictures of poop than non-aroused people. This can explain how some folks can eroticize a body part that can sometimes be smelly and sweaty, like the foot. This can also explain that feeling after your orgasm when you look at your computer screen and ask yourself, WTF was I just watching?!
How common are foot fetishes?
Social psychologist Dr. Justin Lehmiller conducted a 2018 study that found that 14% of participants reported having a fantasy about feet. Of course, there is a difference between having a fantasy and a fetish towards feet. The actual number of folks with a full-on fetish is likely lower. Some research shows that of all body parts, the foot is the most likely area to become eroticized, with experts expecting that up to 5% of folks have a fetish towards feet.
In terms of the demographics, it seems like men are more likely to have a foot fetish than women and queer folks are more likely to have a foot fetish than straight folks. Specifically, Lehmiller’s study found that 21% of gay and bisexual men, 18% of heterosexual men, 11% of lesbian and bisexual women, and 5% of heterosexual women ever had a foot fantasy.
Are foot fetishes more popular now?
There is no question that we hear about foot fetishes now more than ever before. My hypothesis is that foot fetishes are becoming slightly more common, and you are hearing about them more because the stigma around them is lessening. It feels like there is a move towards normalizing different types of sexuality, and folks are learning how normal fetishes are.
As a fetish becomes normalized, it may also become more common. For example, if someone is masturbating and exploring porn for the first time, due to the frequency of foot sexualization, they may be more likely to view this type of imagery or find their way into a foot fetish discussion board. As a result, they may be more likely to sexualize feet and develop a fetish through conditioning due to its increased availability.
If you are aroused by feet, there is absolutely nothing wrong with you! Nobody should ever shame you for your desire. However, some folks are more sexually open than others. If your partner does not want to explore your fetish with you, you can still enjoy it by yourself through fantasy and porn. You should never pressure somebody to have any sexual activity they are uncomfortable with. However, with education and normalization around fetishes, it’s easier to find non-judgemental folks to explore your fetish with now than ever!