The contestants were enjoying a wholesome chat about foot fetishes (as you do) when Williams nonchalantly explained that he used to go by the nickname “Foot King” and that pictures of his soles, in particular, were the biggest moneymakers.
Williams, who is a size 12 shoe (in case you were wondering) explained that he gave up his side hustle when one buyer got a wee bit too specific.
“I stopped doing it because he wanted more artistic direction on the feet pics,” the 38-year-old comedian said. Don’t you just hate it when that happens?
So what exactly is a foot fetish? And why might people have them?
A fetish, in its simplest form, is sexual excitement in response to an object or body part that’s not typically sexual — such as feet — with men more likely to have one. Because fetishes are about evoking a multi-sensory experience, they can derive from almost anything, but feet are the most common.
The research on foot fetishes, or “podophilia”, is still somewhat vague, perhaps due in part to the unnecessary stigma attached to sexual activity that is deemed “weird” or “unusual”, but what we do know is that different people may find feet arousing for different reasons and in different ways.
According to Social Psychologist Dr Justin Lehmiller, “In the case of feet, it’s more about the visual aspect for some, but for others it may be about sniffing, licking, or otherwise touching feet, including using them during sexual penetration.”
“People may be interested in any combination of these activities, or any other activity in which feet are involved, including being stepped on or helping a partner take footwear on and off,” he says.
A quick Google search (that I will no doubt regret as it was executed on my work laptop) led me to several websites and “how-to” blogs about selling old shoes to people with foot fetishes. It also uncovered several amusing posts from unsuspecting eBay sellers who innocently tried to sell some “well worn” kicks, only to be inundated with messages from foot enthusiasts.
Taking my research further, I typed the hashtag “feet” into Instagram, revealing over seven million posts, with the more specific “foot porn” yielding two million squares of tantalising tootsies. So just how many people out there are enamoured with the most southern part of our bodies?
Again, it’s unclear. However during research for his book Tell Me What You Want: The Science of Sexual Desire and How it Can Help You Improve Your Sex Life, Dr Lehmiller interviewed more than 4000 Americans about their sexual fantasies with about 14% of them reporting that feet or toes played a prominent role in their achievement of arousal.
Worth noting is that, just because feet may have popped up in your sexual fantasies once or twice, it does not mean that you have a foot fetish. Says Lehmiller, “While about 1 in 7 people reported having had a foot fantasy before, the number who have a true fetish for feet, in the sense of being primarily or only attracted to feet, is likely much smaller than that.”
As for the reasons behind why someone may find feet arousing, the theories are varied.
Famed neurologist Sigmund Freud claimed that people sexualize feet because they resemble penises (okayyy), while other scientists have pondered the proximity of the areas associated with genitalia and feet in the brain’s body image map. In other words, it has been questioned whether these two adjacent areas might sometimes “cross wires” resulting in sexual arousal. Another factor could be simply that because feet are covered with nerve endings, sensations such as rubbing or tickling feels exceedingly better than other parts of the body.
Dr Lehmiller, however, believes that fetishes are largely learned, and typically harmless, behaviours. Noting that many people wrongly, and rather judgmentally, assume that people with foot fetishes are mentally ill, deviant or odd, Lehmiller stresses that there is absolutely “nothing wrong with having very specific turn-ons when it comes to sex.”
When fetishes do become problematic is if someone pushes their desires onto an unwilling participant, commits crimes in order to fulfil their fantasies or becomes consumed by their fetish to the point of obsession or being unable to function — in which case help from a professional may be required.
Otherwise, says Lehmiller, “Fetishes don’t mean you have a mental problem or that you’re unable to establish healthy sexual or romantic relationships.”
As with anything of a sexual nature, consent is crucial, so being mindful of enjoying fetishes — of any kind — respectfully is the only way to go.