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What Is a Foot Fetish? Get Your Dogs Riled Up in Fetish Culture

Exactly what is a foot fetish? Let’s unpack what could make your meat indiscreet when you see a pair of feet — and why it’s totally okay if it does.
Editorial team
July 22, 2024
min. read
Table of Contents

Our feet take us everywhere. And yet, despite that, many people talk about how much they don't like theirs — or anyone else's. Poll your friends and family; we guarantee you'll find most people can't stand looking at them. That's what they'll say, anyway.

But the people doth protest too much, wethinks.

By that, we mean that foot worship is a prolific practice. The frequency of this fetish makes it one of the most commonly discussed — and most harshly derided. Tell your friends you feel even indifferent toward feet, and some will see it as a confession that you give footjobs on the reg.

And even if you do, so what? It’s just another natural part of the human body.

If you're sitting (or standing) here and asking yourself, "Why do I like feet?" Let's suggest an alternative thought: Why shouldn't you like feet? We'll help free you from the chains of society's prudish attitudes surrounding foot fetishes and show you that expressing this preference is not only normal but healthy!

Understanding foot fetishes

Let's start with some baseline definitions: What is a foot fetish? A fetish is a strong trigger for sexual arousal that falls outside society’s definition of “normal.” They come in all varieties. And, unlike a kink, which is anything unusual that enhances your sexual experience, a fetish is core to your enjoyment.

Those with foot fetishes are turned on by feet; the sight, the taste, the smell — most people with this fetish will sign up for all of it. If you can’t get it up without seeing some toes wiggle, that’s a good sign you’re a foot fetishist yourself.

Some people will get more granular with their foot fetish. One individual might prefer to look at photos of feet, whereas another gets off on genital stimulation with the help of those tickling tootsies. Some like them dirty and calloused, while others prefer a fresh pedicure.

Taking a load on your feet: Foot fetishes in practice

So, what does the lucky partner of a foot fetishist have to look forward to? A lot if you have an open mind.

Any spot that tickles has the potential to be an erogenous zone, and your feet are no exception. After a few sensual foot massages, you’ll realize they have a lot of nerve endings. That means receiving pleasure you wouldn't otherwise have access to. In order to incorporate your trotters into sex, you’ll also become familiar with all sorts of new sex positions. Think of it as a learning experience!

You’re never obligated to agree to something that makes you uncomfortable, but exploring your body parts and how they relate to your arousal is all part of the human experience.

Thinking on your feet: Where do foot fetishes come from?

So, why do people have foot fetishes? There are many theories about why it’s so prevalent; the right answer is anyone’s guess. The origin of a fetish is often unique to each person; many experiences could contribute to someone's fondness for heels and toes. 

Still, research has shed light on potential explanations for podiatric fixations. Here are some social, psychological, and physiological factors that may contribute:

1. Step on me, Daddy!

Feet are involved in many acts of submission and dominance, leading to a bit of a chicken-or-the-egg scenario. If you're going to town on a sensual set of piggies, chances are you're doing it from below. And since feet are at the bottom of the body, there's automatically a dom/sub element some foot worshippers get off on.

But who’s to say they weren’t a foot fetishist before they were a sub? The world may never know.

2. Forbidden fruit

Some say fetishists find feet sexy for the same reason you might like butts or balls: They’re typically covered up. In addition to the taboo factor, hiding a body part makes it more desirable because there's inherent intimacy in enjoying part of someone's body that others can’t access. It’s basic supply and demand!


3. Fetishists are just built differently

Hormones, health, and the physical condition of your body have a significant impact on sexual arousal. That's right: Your unique chemistry can increase the likelihood you find feet tickling erotic.

It might even be as simple as getting a few wires crossed. Some research suggests feet are a common fetish because the part of your brain that processes foot sensation directly neighbors the part responsible for genital sensation.

Still, it’s hard to distinguish nature from nurture. We're not saying that if your sun is in Libra, you're gonna have a spanking kink. But we all have pre-existing conditions that influence our desires for sex and fetishism.

4. Easing into the fetish, step by step

Some communities see fetishes as less taboo or encourage sexual exploration (see: gay), so there's a higher chance you'll unlock your kink if you run with these crowds. Specific cultures may even highlight objects or body parts, sparking erotic feelings about them.

This would explain why research by Dr. Justin Lehmiller for his book Tell Me What You Want found that gay and bisexual individuals are more likely to have sexually fantasized about feet than their straight compatriots.

Interestingly, men who responded to his study were also more likely than women to report getting hot and bothered over feet. What’s that all about? Well, we have some ideas…

Why do men like feet, specifically?

Foot fetishes are primarily associated with men, and with good reason. Research suggests men are far more likely to have a foot- or shoe-centric kink. But why do dudes, in particular, go into heat over feet? There’s no definite answer, but consider the following:

First of all, it’s (unfortunately) less socially acceptable for women to express or explore their sexuality. Social norms often push women far away from things like sex, porn, and kink, where they might discover such a fetish. Men don't feel the same pressure to hide the strange stuff that gets them aroused.

Many would argue that it comes down to male-versus-female brain chemistry, but this gender-essentialist take lacks evidence. It's much more about feeling comfortable exploring your sexuality.

Speaking of comfort, let's level the playing field with a dose of reality. Because of the previously mentioned stigma, it’s also possible women are less likely to admit to having a foot fetish, even if they do. Any study requiring participants to self-report can fall victim to this bias.

Don't worry, ladies and they-dies; you're valid if you feel a stir every time you get a pedicure. It's not perfectly normal and healthy. So book that foot massage and enjoy yourself. You know, for gender equality!

Is it okay to have a foot fetish?

Of course! Like many sexual preferences, foot fetishes are shunned by society because they're misunderstood. But feet are a remarkably tame fetish compared to the more extreme stuff out there. (Not that you shouldn’t turn up the heat on this fetish or incorporate it with others.)

Feet are just another part of the body, after all. And what's not sexy about your partner's body?

Fetishes don't generally get a ringing endorsement from society. They're often seen as taboo (which can be part of the fun). But pop culture sometimes paints foot fetishes as a disease that consumes a person's mind and becomes their identity.

Can that happen? Absolutely. Does it happen often? Not really — especially if the person has a chance to express their fetish healthily. 

There is, however, a thing called fetishistic disorder, which may cause one to go overboard with their fetish until it negatively affects their daily life. It's a diagnosable psychiatric disorder and differs significantly from a baseline foot fetish. At that point, we recommend seeing a professional for help.

But as long as your fetish doesn't impact your ability to have a healthy lifestyle and doesn't cause you or anyone else harm, you're in the clear, my queer.

Tons of well-adjusted people have a foot fetish. Even if it isn't you, someone at your Friendsgiving table is probably thankful for feet. And why shouldn't it be you? Embracing your sexual desires is vital to living a healthy, fulfilled life. So we completely sign off on you getting thirsty when those piggies go to the market.

Don’t get cold feet! Sign up for Grindr

Ignore your stuck-up straight friends: Foot worshiping is sexy, healthy, and completely normal. Hell, we'd be willing to bet some of them have a thing for high heels and painted toenails.

Realistically, no one should be shaming anyone else for their sexual proclivities. As long as we're talking about consenting adults engaging in hot, sexy playtime, then the gloves (and maybe even socks) are off.

Your feet can certainly take you places. For example, his place! Find hot guys within walking distance on Grindr. Get the Grindr app, or start browsing hands-free with Grindr Web — the same Grindr you know and love, now available on your laptop or PC with no download required.

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