Opinion is often divided when it comes to feet and some people think they're abhorrent, while others find them deeply alluring. You can of course simply enjoy shopping for fancy footwear and indulging in the odd toe job every once in a while too. But for a few die-hard foot fans their interest in all things south of the ankle goes beyond sartorial interest or light foreplay and steps firmly into the fetish category.
So what makes your passion for feet a full blown fetish and what's the best way to fine tune your foot worshipping skills? To kickstart an all-consuming love affair with feet we spoke to Sex Expert and Lovehoney ambassador Annabelle Knight, NYC-based Dominatrix Victoria Silver, Sex and Intimacy Expert Camilla Constance and Kinkly.com Co-founder Tara Struyk about all things feet in our beginner's guide to foot fetishes:
What is a foot fetish?
Whether you're part of the kink, fetish and BDSM community or you simply enjoy shopping for nice shoes and indulging in occasional foreplay, it's likely you've heard of foot fetishes. Feet play an important role in even the most vanilla sex games and most of you will have had your toes sucked (or done some light sucking) at some point in your life.
But what takes foot love to the next level and why do people worship them? Foot fetishism, also known as podophilia, is characterised by a sexual interest in feet, and being seriously turned on by toes, ankles and feet.
Foot fetishism is 'a heightened specific sexual interest in feet and/or footwear,' says Knight. 'Understanding that a fetish is a specific, hyper-focused sexual desire - foot fetishism is when a person sexualises feet in that way,' adds Silver. 'Some prefer toes, some like soles, some prefer bare feet!'
Like all good fetishes, foot worship comes with its fair share of spin-offs including funky smell appreciation, fancy dress and sensation play. Some people also like to be ‘toed’, which involves using feet in place of fingers to explore orifices. Feet are so popular, you can now purchase a Vajankle, which is essentially a silicone foot with a vagina-shaped hole inside designed with serious foot fetishists in mind.
Are foot fetishes common?
If you find feet alluring, you're not alone. Foot fetishism was voted the UK’s sixth most popular fetish in a Lovehoney survey recently. It is also the most common form of sexual fetishism for what are traditionally considered non-sexual objects or body parts, says Knight. ‘It’s more prevalent in men than women,’ she adds.
But it is believed that a lot more people enjoy feet in a sexual way than feel safe to admit. ‘The very fact that getting sexual pleasure from feet is termed a “fetish” with the suggestion that it is somehow odd, illustrates how far we still have to travel to regain our sexual freedom,’ says Constance.
Why do people love feet?
There are many reasons why someone might have a sexual interest in feet or footwear, or indeed enjoy being on the reciprocal end of foot worship. The most common reasons for foot adoration include the following:
❤️ Feet are an erogenous zone
In practical terms, your feet are packed with nerve endings and this ‘makes them erogenous zones in their own right,’ according to Knight. 'Even in vanilla sex, having your toes licked, sucked, and feet rubbed can feel amazing!' adds Silver.
❤️ It's all in the mind
Psychologist Sigmund Freud famously believed that people sexualise feet because they resemble penises. A more recent scientific theory comes from the neuroscientist Vilanayar Ramachandran, who believes the brain areas associated with genitalia and feet are adjacent to each other and foot fetishes stem from cross-wiring.
❤️ Cinderella syndrome
Another theory is known as Cinderella syndrome, a psychological condition in which a woman fears independence and secretly hankers after a knight in shining armour to rescue her. The fairytale character's perfect, small foot fitting into the glass slipper plays into this submissive fantasy. ‘Several cultures have histories of emphasising foot size as a sign of feminine/masculine attraction,’ says Knight.
❤️ Fancy dress
You don't have to be particularly kinky to appreciate the allure of fancy dress. From a passion for stockings and suspenders to perfectly painted toes in towering high heels, feet often play an integral role in dressing up and cliched notions of what constitutes a 'sexy' look.
❤️ The allure of the taboo
Opinion is often divided and some people adore feet, while others find anything to do with the area utterly abhorrent. Let's be honest, well kept feet can be quite lovely but thanks to smell, poor hygiene and wayward toenails, feet can also be pretty grim, and this dichotomy adds to the allure. ‘Feet do have a gross or taboo factor to them as well, and that can play into the appeal,’ says Struyk.
❤️ BDSM and foot play
Foot worship has an important role in BDSM, as submission and domination is all about power play and feet can be useful tools for establishing who's boss. 'It’s really intimate to have someone touch and rub your feet, and worship is the next step,' says Silver. 'In the Domme/sub context, having your submissive in their rightful place beneath you is such a powerful position.'
How do foot fetishes work?
As with all fetishes, how you choose to act on your desires differs from person to person and what makes one fetishist tick might not work for another. From adornments to odour enjoyment, what you do to explore your foot fetish will also depend on which senses play into your arousal:
💋 Shoes and stockings
Given the dramatic impact a good pair of heels can have, it should come as no surprise that footwear and other leg-based accessories play a big part in foot fetishisation. ‘For people for whom sight is important, feet in stockings, heels or sandals are highly arousing,’ Constance explains. ‘For these people sex will often incorporate beautiful shoes and a good pair of stockings. And this kind of sex is easily moved out of the bedroom.’
💋 Funky aromas
For odour enthusiasts, foot fetishism can extend to olfactophilia, which means they are turned on specifically by the aroma. It can be a case of ‘the smellier the better’, explains Constance, so socks, sweaty feet and even stinky old trainers can be transformed into instruments of pleasure.
💋 Foot worship
Many foot lovers simply enjoy the pleasure of washing, stroking, and sucking feet. 'In both personal dating and professional sex work, I find that foot worship is a favourite of fetishists,' says Silver. 'To take the time to really touch, appreciate, and value your partners feet for an extended period of time can really help heighten the level of intimacy between the two, and it makes great foreplay. They also love sniffing, licking, and putting feet on their face, but these can all be included under the foot worship umbrella,' she adds.
💋 Pain play
Pain often comes with a rush of endorphins and can be an integral aspect of BDSM, so some foot lovers extend their feet and shoe fetish to exploring different sensations. This can be as straightforward as asking your lover to walk on you while wearing heels, to using shoes to administer pain. ‘Some people enjoy experimenting with different types of touch including those that trigger a pain reaction, so their particular foot fetish includes shoe heels into parts of their bodies,’ says Constance.
How to explore your foot fetish
If you’re interested in exploring foot fetishism but you don't know where to start, NYC-based Dominatrix Victoria Silver offers the following foot worship tips:
A great way to start for more vanilla couples is a nightly foot massage. Shop together for some lotions and oils, get the lingerie on, and create a little erotic, pre-sex ritual together that makes both of you feel good.
If you don’t have a special someone, there’s plenty of dommes, foot models, and onlyfans creators that make content that appeals to all kinds of foot fetishists: oily feet, wet feet, wrinkled soles, toe spreads galore. Find one you like, support their content, and pay for their pedicures, toe rings, or shoes!
For a couple more interested in kink, consider giving your partner (or asking your partner!) for a foot job. It’s essentially like a hand job, but you’re wrapping your feet around their member and using your core strength to stroke. It’s not easy, it’s a workout, and it requires a good amount of lube or oil. But, for those who seek to please their foot loving partner, this will blow their mind.
You can also focus on having sex in positions where your partner has access to your feet, like a modified missionary position! Encourage them to suck on your toes, lick your foot from top to bottom, and inhale your delicious scent.
How to talk to your partner about kink
In any healthy relationship or sexual partnership, being able to communicate openly and honestly about your fantasies without fear of judgement is essential. Our sexuality and desires are ever changing, so these conversations should be happening regularly, too. Constance recommends creating a ‘safe space in your relationship to talk about your desires and fears around sex.’
If you are harbouring secret fantasies about experimenting with foot worship and you're not given the space to express these desires, it could have a negative impact on your relationship, and also your sense of self. ‘The more you bury these conversations and pretend there is “nothing wrong” the quicker your sex life will grow dull and boring and be a strain in your relationship rather than a source of joy and connection,’ adds Constance.
Initiating a conversation about sex may feel daunting, but if your relationship is built on trust and intimacy, you should be able to discuss sexual fantasies and desires with your partner. ‘The people with the most vibrant and rewarding sex lives are the people who create the time and the space to talk about sex,’ says Constance.
How to make foot fetish friends
For help pursuing your podophilia passion and to connect with likeminded feet enthusiasts, try the following:
Fetlife: the social network for the BDSM, Fetish and Kinky Community.
Foot fetish match: the dating site for feet enthusiasts.
Whiplr.com: community app for BDSM, fetish, kinky and alternative lifestyles.
KinkD: a private and genuine dating community for kinky people.
Last updated: 05-02-2021
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