(NSFW) About Feet

Hey there, Patrons and Public.

You see the banner image. You read the title. You know what this is. We’re going to nerd out about feet.

There’s a lot of relevant art and porn on this subject, but no one’s really commenting on feet in a way that combines technical art, sexuality, physiological and psychological elements. I learned if I’m having the same damn conversation over and over again, and I hear no one else talking about it, I might as well get it down in writing.

I try to demystify these topics on taste and sexuality as much as I can, but that said, this is even weird and vulnerable by my standards. This isn’t the kind of post I would ever share on Facebook or Twitter, because I feel terrible at the thought of all my artist and art director mutuals who would rather not have this on their radar. I think that’s because this topic is simultaneously pornographic and platonic. What counts as porn, by my favourite definition, is entirely up to how the consumer wishes to interface with the content.

At least a few of you are on this Patreon because we talked about this topic before at a convention or in my livestreams, or because you just really like how I draw feet. But it’s also my hope that you zip up and have a read. Maybe you’ll gain insight on yourself, be it your relationship to your own body, or the porn you like, or even the thumbnails you do for your next commission.

Share this with anyone if it makes you feel more understood and encouraged. I made it public for a reason! And with that, enjoy the read.

I. A Furry Hospital nurses many broken ankles

One of my favourite jokes in the furry fandom is the acronym BOTF. It’s short for “bottom of the foot”, but you can pronounce it “bawt-fuh”. Even ten years ago, when I made the acronym, showing the bottom of a foot or hindpaw in furry art was an obvious trend. Just like breaking a spine to show T&A, there are seemingly endless cases of bad anatomy choices made in favor of revealing that sweet, sweet BOTF that gets all the views, faves and sales. I’d joke that a hospital for furry art would have an entire wing dedicated to broken ankles.

But what is it about a BOTF (or feet in character art, in general) that made this trope exist? I have a few hypotheses based on my last 10-ish years of questioning the topic. This article will not only cite reasons and examples of implementing feet into your figurative work as useful, but also offer generalities of why I believe foot fetishes exist at all. And it closes with some much deeper personal truths all this foot stuff has to teach us.

II. Utilities of the foot in art  

A. Feet have personality. Like hands and face, and fashion in general, one’s lifestyle has an effect on their feet. On a spectrum, one end features bound feet of a 10th c. affluent Chinese woman, crushed into a dainty shoe and forcing a “lotus gait”. On the other end of said spectrum would be the running people of Chihuahua, the Rarámuri, who grew up in generations of barefoot long distance running, with a bigger, wider, and more dexterous foot suitable to being as physically useful as possible.

Surely, in the furry fandom, having paws and claws embraces the useful end of the foot spectrum. Your dog’s sturdy paw pads and strong digging claws require no shoes, and that’s pretty damn exotic for most of us. Bird furries can keep their gamer shirts and cargo pants (always cargo pants!) but otherwise have their fursonas go barefoot with their talons and claws. Go nuts, ye furries! Exaggerate the muscle, tendon, and bones of your feet. Add scale plating. Add those toe beans, padded soles, or anything else that feels familiar as a human convention, but has a bestial twist. These artistic appendages remind us that we may be looking at people, but certainly not humans. There’s something cooler, something exotic about a non-human foot. But that’s for a later section.

B. Feet are usually hidden. The modern furry fandom came from American, middle class, internet-exposed young adults in urban and suburban areas. In this cultural sphere, you’re usually in the context of closed-toe shoes required by standards of safety or professionalism. Growing up, I was supposed to wear socks at virtually all times in-doors. My parent’s never explicitly made me, it was just understood. Taken even further, the rest of the world is grossed out by Americans routinely wearing shoes indoors. This is part of why I was grossed out for a long time by feet—as body parts that I didn’t display and almost never saw for myself, they were almost non-sexual genitalia. And the things we hide, or are not exposed to, automatically affect how we interface with them as concepts.

C. Feet are expressive. The old adage says to look at hands—not the misleading face—when trying to determine how someone truly feels in an interaction. Feet have this potential, too. Feet pointing away from an interaction shows an intent to leave a conversation. Toes splayed out to stabilize on a surface make a character feel grounded in their environment, more sculpted as a figure and less floating on an arbitrary background. Having the soles visible on a character means that they are no longer flatly grounded; kicking, sprinting, being knocked off-guard, being unconscious, or more sexual or aggressive gestures could be valid reasons to consider lifting a foot.

I like referencing the art of South Asian deities, who have contrasting and expressive foot posturing (often bright red or white soles with articulated toes) as an expression of dominance or aggression matching the palms of their hands. Artists thousands of years ago knew to never waste hands and feet in a composition, something that applies to us all today, too! 

D. Feet are… sexy? Like hands, faces, and genitals, humans are constantly sizing up these detailed parts more-so than a knee or elbow. If you see someone missing even a finger, it can trigger a mini-panic for subverting your reptilian-brain expectations of normalcy. Despite our strict standards for what we deem normal in a human face, it’d be ridiculous to consider “face fetish” to be a thing. Same for “hand fetish” because of how common-place hands are in most of our interactions. Feet by comparison, though? Pretty weird, and definitely worthy of the “fetish” label when you grow up constantly hiding them.

Illustrations of which parts of the brain control which body parts, a 2-D cortical sensory homunculus, show genitalia mapped immediately next to toes. Current analysis isn’t exact on the nature of genitalia overlapping elsewhere, and erogenous zones responsible for secondary sexual stimulation is not as exacting in our understanding as I would like, but it would come as no surprise that such a crossover could happen between both feet and genitalia based on this biological factor alone. 

Like that South Asian religious art, a step, a stomp, or a foot raised with the intention to punish is an expression of dominance. Resting your feet up on furniture is a statement of ownership over a domain. You’d get fired for doing that in the wrong place. Physical confidence can be sexy. And in the porn I gravitate towards is about absorbing the confidence of a subject in a sexy way. I want to feel as dominant as they do. An artist can express that with surprisingly little detail in a drawing. 

III. A history of (mostly) hating feet

My relationship to my own body—specifically my feet, here—is what brought me to this post. It’s also been a feature in my personal work over the last 5 years or so.

As mentioned earlier, even well into adulthood, being barefoot was something I just didn’t do. I once avoided showering for 5 days, because I was staying at a friend’s house in 8th grade and thought not using my own shower would bring about a permanent foot fungus. I viewed feet as dirty, sweaty, disgusting things meant to be hidden behind socks. They were also weak, so they always needed to be encased in rubber and plastic and fabric, or you’d damage them. I liked wearing sandals during summer vacation, but those needed socks too. What if my feet smelled or got dirty? It sounds silly now, but being comfortable with my body was not as important as having a shoe that I deemed to be well-made and cool in its appearance. Anti-capitalism hindpaw talk, let’s go!

As is the case with the psychology of morality, disgust dictates what is immoral, and in Conservative Christian America, that had to look clean and controlled. If feet were that disgusting, it was clearly weird and therefore bad, and in my mind hiding them became a moral imperative. Maybe women could wear sandals during Easter Sunday, and we could all wear flip-flops if we were going to the beach, but that was it. Anything else would be too weird and too wrong. Definitely something those God-hating hippies would do, with their long hair and their drugs and their open toe shoes. And again, more on this later.

There are little snippets of my prepubescent memory that involved feet. I think they may be clues.

As a kid, I watched a scene from a classic Werewolf film. During the crossfade transformation sequence, the feet turned darker and hairier and had claws. I liked TF when I was little because of opportunities like this, but it never was nor is it now part of my sexual tastes. But I knew something about his feet changing in that way felt like an exciting concept.

Similarly, I believe I saw the Creature of the Black Lagoon on TV and thought the foot design was better than a human foot. I wished I was a cool monster. 

I remember seeing a spot illustration in a kids’ edutainment book with these prosthetic feet, featuring exaggerated joints and digits, and I remember being so curious about that, maybe even wanting that for myself on some level. 

At the pool at a summer daycare program, I remember one of the more athletic kids in the group got out of the pool, and I noticed the contrasting soles on his large black feet. I remember thinking that was really cool, but not knowing exactly why. (I grew up in a largely segregated place, and mostly just around white people.) Damn, contrasting palms and soles looked so cool.

During my growth spurts, I’d jump entire shoe sizes in less than a year. With my giant butt and big feet, I knew I looked awkward and unbalanced. During church camp, I almost cried when I had to wear shoes 1 size larger, making my big feet look even bigger. I wished my feet were small and completely unnoticeable. Being completely hidden under JNCO jeans would have been ideal.

This dynamic inverted as a teenager. I remember some of the earliest porn I was looking at, how people were barefoot. Seeing their soles while they were penetrating blew my mind. There was something about the visual rhythm of seeing soles and genitalia together that felt like you were seeing a whole other level of visual completeness. Maybe the symmetry of two feet up w/legs bent did something to make it more engaging. I remember masturbating in front of a mirror and lifting one foot up and thinking, “Woah, I don’t think I’ve ever seen myself do this before. Jacking off plus a foot? This is crazy.” Whatever the case, porn involving socks and shoes on otherwise nude actors I could tolerate, but I’d roll my eyes first.

Another significant nostalgia boner came in middle school. I discovered a now dead porn site called “MONSTERS-RAPE”, which featured images and videos of live-action actresses pretending to be raped by monsters and demons, mapped on the live action material as 3D models. The acting was… well, it was porn acting. And this was 2001, so you just know the 3d was like melted lego monsters. But I remember seeing the shitty 3d feet on one of the demons at a good angle and knowing that scratched an itch for me. With that observation I successfully avoided the bad actresses and focused on the 3d monsters. This desire led me to hentai, which had great hyper-sexual monsters designs, but this almost always came at the cost of their brutally raping women. It was never consensual, women were never being dominant, and it was never monster/monster. Unbeknownst to me, salvation was on its way: a whole generation of artists more into monsters without rape would soon start posting their work online, in a culture that was fantastical creature-oriented, and almost no rape-y exploitative themes.

Furry porn came into my tastes in late middle school to early high school. I was relieved to find human shapes belonging to people that were maybe not human, as it meant I was clearly participating in fantasy and not reality by caving to my carnal interests. Paws for hands and feet were great, because they were exotic and further removed from being human. It was easier to fantasize about male furries without feeling gay, because conditioning myself to fictional animal men was not gay. Liking human men is gay. And I’m no gay, I would straightly say, scribbling doodles of werewolf men auto-fellating and with their padded soles and toe claws where I could see ‘em.

In my freshman year of my Christian college, I remember being in a dorm room with a new friend. I remember smelling something that felt like this unfamiliar pheremone-esque trigger. I was, for the first time, suddenly struck with this intense puppy-love towards a man. I didn’t expect nor did I want that (not gay! Just into furry dudes!). I realized later that sweet smell was probably because he had just taken his shoes off. Thinking on this grosses me out. Foot smells have never not grossed me the fuck out, and I hate seeing that as a theme in porn. I’ve never had that relationship to any body odor at all since then, so what the fuck happened.

One dorm on campus, Hodson Hall, housed most of the guys who went around campus in their bare feet, wore hemp necklaces, secretly smoked weed, rode longboards, walked around nude in the dorm rooms, and climbed up trees in meditation to “get closer to God”. My friends and I constantly made fun of them, especially grossed out by the foot fungus they all must have had by being barefoot. Why would they make us think of that on our way to the cafeteria! Little did I realize that even I, enlightened centrist that I was, was cringe-y in my Christian College. In a brutal twist of irony, if I was forced to stay on my Alma mater’s campus today, twelve years later, I’d definitely be put in Hodson. And I probably would be happier there than my previous dorms, too.

It’s been about 16 years since my first days of looking at furry porn as a freshly pubescent non-sex-haver. In that time, I’ve had several relationships, and also a handful of different sex partners. My direct sexual activities and the tastes of my partners, in some combination, informed my tastes in porn.

As I grew more and more experienced, the human shapes of what I knew IRL superseded the more fantastical shapes I enjoyed in furry porn. As an example, I learned that I’m my most sexually stimulated when my palms and soles are exposed and engaged, when they are engaged tactilely mid-thrust and/or mid-kiss. It feels like all of me gets to be utilized while navigating a path to orgasm. It also taught me that I loved seeing feet at a good silhouetted angle without it being the focus of a drawing or a porn shot. I’ve seen a ton of porn, and let me tell you, finding these compositions done well in porn—furry or IRL—is surprisingly difficult.

IV. Drawing feet for myself

I dabbled in drawing feet into my commissions a couple times, as early as 2011. Back then, I was comfortable drawing artistic nudes of breasts and vulvas, but penises weirded me out too. In fact, as much as I enjoyed masturbating to porn, the idea of creating art that other people would masturbate to struck me as hypocritical, maybe even evil. “What if someone masturbated to a paw/foot I drew, and that brought them further from God?” I secretly enjoyed the few times clients asked me to render a sole highlighted mid-run or mid-kick, but I was scared of doing something overtly sexual for the first six years of my professional career.

Personal work as a concept escaped me until about 2014. Resin, the black hare with the white palms and soles taking up most of this post’s image header, is my fursona that I first met that year. I say I “met” him rather than “created” because, well… it’s a long story. You can learn more about him on the Black Hare Patreon tier. He is a centering prayer for peace and confidence. Art of him is of my body, reclaiming sexiness on my own terms rather than letting the status quo dictate who or what I should be. He was my first outward sexual expression beyond my wife, whom didn’t find me sexually attractive at all. Resin was also first in my life soon after my wife suggested an open marriage that I wasn’t ready for, years before I’d realize that I’m polyamorous. Resin was new depths of trusting my internal connection to God, rather than shoehorning my context into my Church’s opinions on the current iteration of The Bible.

As imagery of Resin is often a celebration of my yoga practice, the potential for good hands and feet were endless. Yoga is about reflecting on an inward space rather than an outward one. Your breathing matters. You feel your blood course, and your hands and feet are constantly dynamic. You listen to your body and you unwind your mind on the foundation of your breathing, rather than listening to sermons and restructuring your thoughts via external texts.

A solid black character with white only on his face, palms, and soles, was the perfect solution to embodying sexual energy into a figure without it being overtly sexual. The contrasting palms and soles themselves became a great way to emphasize all the interesting compositional elements that happen when appendages are foreshortened well. It’s a celebration of both muscular-skeletal designs and the concept of appendages being our sensory windows into the external world.

In my personal work, I want hands and feet to be venerated by myself and the viewer. I want hands and feet to look engaging, strong, and vocal. And so the feet in my artwork matter,
because I’ve decided they do.

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V. Moving to the other end of the spectrum

There was a lot of distance I had to traverse before I had shifted positions on this foot spectrum of sorts: from hiding and weakening my feet behind shoes, to restoring them to useful and strong parts of my body that connect me to the world. 

I started introducing minimalist running sandals into my shoe selection back in 2015, because I was recovering from an injury and wanted my injured ankle to have as much strength and fidelity as possible after consistently tripping up in my usual reinforced athletic shoes. This was also freshly after my wife moved out, and those sandals were the first time in memory I bought nice clothing/apparel just for me. I felt like I was moving from a foot binding to a Rarámuri huarache sandal. 4 years later, I still wear those sandals as often as possible, but I’ve now started walking barefoot every chance I get too, so long as the space isn’t unhealthy or socially disarming.

Going barefoot requires you to pay attention to your surroundings on a much deeper level. You can’t absentmindedly heel-strike anymore without shoes making your body dumber. Your foot spreads out with each step, like hands feeling their way up a dark climb, providing this whole other level of information you never knew you were missing. With this intention, your body adjusts to accommodate your feet—your toes and soles conform to the most appropriate shape as quickly and naturally as possible.

With time, my ankles and feet became stronger. The toes, balls, and edge of my feet widened out some, and started behaving more like—ironically enough—paw pads. Observing that functionality restored to my body has been validating. 

It’s important to state here that it is damaging for shoe-wearers to immediately switch to barefoot, in the same way that a thick athletic shoe will throw off the body of someone who never wears shoes. I segued from running shoes to minimalist running shoes to barefoot walking over the course of a few years. If you’re not spreading this out over a few months at least, you’re at risk of injury. Please consult with a medical professional and not me. 

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VI. The Battle of the Beans

“But will you talk about paws?” a friend asked me on Twitter, just last night. Yes, I will. This is the furry fandom, after all. At least weekly I get comments from well-meaning furries who do not enjoy my design choices. This section is on where I got to, and leading to how I started prioritizing the plantigrade foot over a digitigrade foot in my own artistic expressions.

I’d rather have plantigrade legs (walking on a human foot) than digitigrade legs (walking like a dog/cat, on the digits of a paw). Even though playing with the shapes and design potential of an extra appendage can be fun, I’d rather the human shapes of my characters be unobstructed by tails. And finally, markedly so, I’d rather have soles on my characters’ feet than paw pads. I can enjoy paw pads on a plantigrade design if the artist is considerate, but I’m definitely in the minority for choosing plantigrade over digitigrade designs, feet over paws, and tail-less designs over a big and curly fwuffy wusky tail ( >w< ;;;). Sometimes I feel less furry for that. I guess that’s true, if below the neck the human parts are more engaging to me than any of the animal parts.

Look up the wiki on comparative foot morphology and it makes it easy to understand why, for example, an elephant foot is different than a human foot. This applies to tails and digitigrade forms versus plantigrade designs, too. Human behaviors—like sprinting while standing up—are most at home with human feet. While that’s a priority for me, having characters that could run or walk exactly like I could, it’d be boring as hell if all designs were plantigrade.

But it wasn’t always like this. Around fifteen years ago, when furry porn was still a fresh and novel experience for me, I loved seeing tails, exotic designs, and prehensile, hyper-dextrous feet just as much—if not more so—than human bodies painted with animal patterns. When I was younger, my sex-drive was triggered by just about anything. Back when all of this sex stuff terrified me, it was easier for me to invest in subject matters a few degrees separated from people. My Christian guilt appreciated the lighter load of sexually objectifying fantastical images. Maybe the less realistic and more cartoony porn would put me into a nicer circle of hell. 

Animal heads were great, but digitigrade legs and paws started reminding me less of sexualizing fictional animal-people and more of sexualizing… animal-shaped ideas. As my fursonas (the majority of my personal work for the last 5 years) locked into my IRL proportions, feral and digitigrade designs were further divorced from me, emotionally.

Even if it’s not sexually arousing for me, I can still appreciate designs that are not human. My partner Sasha prefers bird hands/feet on anthros and humanoids alike because of their potential to express an otherness tangential to being genderqueer. Artists like Beth Cavener Stichter and Zyonji are capable of sharing nuanced human expressions outside conventional human shapes, but only because they’re dealing with abstract concepts. Their anthropomorphizing animals happens in more subtle ways than saying “lick muh peets!". I find that inspiring… and also completely unlike my own art. However, I can’t deny the power in those feral traits. Maybe my future personal work will have more paws and more feral designs.

This worth emphasizing: I’m not telling you paws are bad. I’m not even saying digitigrade designs in anthro are inferior to plantigrade. The point of this is to share my tastes and how they got there, and to offer an example of my own preferences and creations as a road map of the deeper parts of my psyche. All of us have access to that, but we don’t get to go on that journey if we neither ask others nor ask ourselves first. 

This is why I wrote that earlier article about repurposing fetishes into something professional, constructive, and platonic. If seeing behind the curtain of your own bizarre kinks sounds like fun, that post is a good entry point.

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VII. Giving my Id a hug

Human sexuality is complex, and nothing is ever just a fetish. Even our most automatic sexual proclivities derive from purposed hormones or otherwise platonic experiences overlapping with our sexual maturity. And that is what interests me the most. When I think of my own relationship to feet, that’s what I want to explore. As a recovering sex-addict, I try and keep my sexual expressions conscientious and intentional. And if I’m going to any pornography, including a foot-focused image in my art, I can’t not wonder what’s going on there.

I recently did a personal piece that I was a bit worried about sharing. It’s just an unapologetic BOTF pic of my monkey fursona, MJ.


I had many, so many reservations about doing this piece and then sharing it. No, you don’t understand. I hadn’t allowed myself to do work like this for a very long time. And I certainly never published it until now.

On my AD Twitter, account, I wrote:

"I'm going to do a fucking straight up foot pic of Monkey Jonathan. I'm sorry in advance, everyone."

"The sun does not apologise for shining," wrote one friend.

A second friend later wrote the message that gave us the title of this section:

"Jonathan, I have homework for you. I want you to make that goddamn MJ foot pic, and I want you to make it everything Deep Down Jonathan wants it to be.
I want you to hug your id and tell it you love it."

That was easier said than done. This work reminded me of how uncomfortable I found most foot fetish material, how awkward and unsexy most of it is to me. I can’t relate to people posting their own feet on furry art sites, or drawing the same damn position over and over again. If I search “hindpaw” or “plantigrade” on e621, maybe 1% of it I like. No licking, no paw worship, no art of footjobs. I’d even photoshop colours out of paw pads just to make them more palatable to my tastes.

The majority of paw/foot art probably doesn’t have the length/width relation or angles of toe-ball-heel-arch-ankle that I find attractive. I'm not into macro, and yet macro artists tend to articulate and display feet in ways you’d normally not see elsewhere. But to find it attractive, I’d have to photoshop out all the macro parts: no buildings, no micros. 

Dear Lord, this is the furry porn equivalent of “I read Playboy for the articles,” isn’t it.

You see, my complex relationship with feet in furry porn (or IRL on rare occasion) comes from still caring what people would think about me, even within a sex positive space like the furry fandom. I'm not like those furries without taste, right? I’m a serious artist!

…A serious artist who cares about being technically excellent, but I’m still sexually attracted to some things that are straight-up uncanny. Badly modded Argonians from Oblivion are still hot to me, especially because they look shittier than Skyrim. (Who in their right mind would ever choose to like Oblivion Argonians over Skyrim models?) I’m more open and transparent than most about my sexuality, I’m more brave than I used to be about what I like, but for the longest time (okay, even now, I admit), I avoid publicly faving foot/paw-related content on FA I was too embarrassed to show the other site members that I thought it was hot.

If you’re my friend or any kind of good influence, you may be thinking, 

Jonathan, who the fuck cares. You’re not better than anyone else by pretending your tastes in porn are more academic 100% of the time.

I agree, and thank you. But that doesn’t alleviate my anxieties. Listen to how these anxieties really are:

Resin is straight-up my physical anatomy. That means thousands of people—including art directors and some of my favourite illustrators of all time—have basically seen my naked body whether or not they realize it. Feet would be too weird to share in my art, but my absolute favourite illustrator/painter from my college years indirectly told me that I have a nice dick.

Think on that for a second.

You know, maybe that’s not fair. I think it’s because the dick was never the sole purpose of Resin pictures. This MJ pic is absolutely about the feet. That foot painting up there is of my fursona designed to be as much like me as possible. That’s my feet. That’s a toilet on the left because it’s a reference photo from my bathroom, part of a series of references for me to study feet from, because I avoided feet studies my whole life. I want my pics to have excellent feet surrounded by a greater context, but the point of this art is absolutely the feet. (I kicked ass on the grippy carpet in the bottom left though, let’s be honest.) Following suit with the purpose of the character, the room is what it is.

I guess this art may invite unwanted offers to see people’s feet, or unwanted compliments on my feet. …Wait a second—why was I weirded out about people complimenting my feet when I’m otherwise happy with exhibitionism through Resin as a proxy? It's okay to find my body hot, but my feet are off limits? What the hell, Jonathan. I liked that my feet are more attractive by my standards than they were years ago. I like having a visual testimony of moving towards the useful end of the foot spectrum. Maybe I should just be flattered someone also likes how they look, and then politely turn down the compliments that aren't for me. 

I can’t tell what’s weirder—the fact that I did this pic at all, or the fact that I could do pics of a naked Resin, but showing MJ’s feet was almost too vulnerable for me to do it at all.

I uploaded this pic on my AD Twitter first, and only one friend clicked like on it. This was the same friend who sent me the encouraging message earlier, also a friend who told me my relation to feet was like his relation to his own until-recently closeted bisexuality. So of course he got how vulnerable this was, but did my other friends think this was just too awkward to interface with? The next morning, 9 more friends liked it, including artists whose works I value, and a few more left affirming comments. Did I really think this would scare off my friends? A fucking painting of feet? Jonathan, you poor fuck. You’ve come such a long way, but sometimes you really are that scared middle schooler jacking off to furry porn in mom’s basement.

I’ve spent my adult career monetizing my own vulnerability, but this is new territory in my own brain. I’m too close to all this to tell how it’ll be received publicly. I needed to ask Sasha, regularly, if this even looked good. That’s some dumb irrational shit, but it’s my dumb irrational shit, so you deserve to know. 

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VIII. Two lessons feet can teach us

There are far greater problems than my online rep here. Sure, I had to sort out than whether or not people would like this picture or like me, but don't let these monkey feet distract from some these greater principles on how society at large works:

1) Things embody weakness when we decide they are weak. 

There’s a reason I put that medical warning on going barefoot. When people tell you that barefooting has some health benefits, that’s true, but it’s not immediately true for thick-soled shoe-wearers. People unaccustomed to barefooting or minimalist footwear do so because they or their guardians thought their environment was too dangerous for feet. Regardless of how true that actually was, it became an absolute truth because they never exercised their bare feet. It may have started as a branching path, or as simple belief/opinion, but the danger of barefooting became truth the moment that opinion was implemented. 

How many of you were told you were weak or broken because someone didn’t understand you? If this happened as a child, you may be unpacking that the rest of your life. If you trusted those lies, you made them true because you treated yourself as weak. Of course, you were stronger than you imagined, but you need someone to show you that first. Empathy, for example, can overwhelm you. Empathy can also be your superpower. 

My parents raised me to be strong in many ways, but also incredibly weak in other ways. I had to decide which parts I wanted to believe in, and be it driving for 2 hours to move out of the house by myself 10 years ago, or publishing this post on Patreon today, my bravery is a rebellion against the weakness placed on me. And as strong as I could be, at the time I absolutely was weak. 

2) Things become bad once we decide they are bad. 

In The Righteous Mind, moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt breaks down how we make decisions. Human beings, he illustrates, are not purely rational. Humans are like a small person riding atop a large elephant. The rider has some sway over an elephant’s direction, but if an elephant reacts first, there’s no stopping what it will do—at least not for a hot minute. This elephant is our emotional mind, and the small human rider on top is our rational mind. We feel before we think, 100% of the time. We don’t get to choose our emotions, we only choose what we do once said emotions have been felt.

Haidt also cites the research of Kevin B. Smith, who learned (as mentioned earlier) that Conservatives are more easily disgusted than Liberals, and that disgust, in fact, correlates with moral imperative. Liberals are open to new experiences, the stereotype goes, and Conservatives fight for stability. So to be open, to challenge your conventions, that is to be more open than disgusted by new or unusual things.

“Amish porn” is a joke phrase referring to an otherwise fully-clothed person showing their ankle. An exposed, bare foot in most contexts is almost pornographic based on how I grew up, and so nudity was definitely stigmatized. As an adult, that manifested in my being sexually repressed, having poor self-esteem, exacerbating my sex addiction, and even today fighting the feeling that doing a foot-focused furry pic is wrong.

If you do defy a given culture’s expectations, you are threatening their sensibilities. If you’re a self-identifying member of any culture while doing this, you threaten cultural cohesion. By their merits, you are wrong and you are in danger of spreading wrongness to others. On their turf it is their rules. You don’t get to just convince anyone you’re not bad until they exit their world and enter yours through compassionate listening and ideally cultural immersion. This is why I had my hangups about queerness, transness, and yes, even something as innocuous as feet. I didn’t get the chance until my divorce to unpack most of that, and three years later I'm still unpacking feet.

And, bittersweetly, you’ll never really understand this separation until a culture you were a part of doesn’t have room for you anymore. How you respond to that is up to you. I just hope you choose to be strong. Draw that fucking foot, you baby.

IX. In closing

I somehow had already written a post about the intersecting point of lost cultural ties and BOTFs. Of course I did. This foot thing had been on my mind for a while, and the more I thought about it, the more I realized my hangups between my religious upbringing and feet were related. And now that I understand that, guess I’ll be doing more feet in the future until they don’t feel like the best ways to fulfill my desired messages.

Pretty heavy for a post on feet in furry art, I know, but at least now I get why I’m still kind of ashamed about all this. Conversely, this means that when I paint a BOTF, there’s a lot of power there. Similar vibes to that South Asian religious art I mentioned. That’s actually pretty damn cool.

My standards for normal vs. strange, tasteful vs. cringe, moral vs. amoral have gone a little deeper because I’ve chosen to explore feet through my art and writing. It’s still raw for me, but between my partner, my friends, and my followers, a few good interactions already happened. Whoever you are, reader, I’m glad you’re hear for this, too.

These articles have been more frequent than ever because my generous Patrons donated, and my non-member fans share what I do. If you can afford even 6 pennies per day that allows me to spend more time on personal art like that MJ pic, and then I can write more articles like this one.

If you can’t afford to donate but found this post useful, please share it. I’ve been joking for a while that I wanted to do BOTFs so excellent that every plantigrade furry would know my name. Maybe I’m on my way.

If you’re a fan of feet, the Black Hare tier has a lot of work that you’ll enjoy, including the high-res of the MJ feet study

I also have some mounted traditional charcoal studies of feet that were the prerequisite to the MJ pic. Those works and others are available for purchase on my website.

And finally, illustrated commentary on Resin’s creation and the navigation of my sex addiction, religious identity, and more is available here. It’s free if you can’t afford it, so please PM me if that applies to you.

Love, 

-J

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