This Little Piggy

This Little Piggy

This little piggy went to market …. this little piggy stayed home… do you still remember this rhyme? It was counted out on an infant’s toes, by wiggling or tickling each toe when the corresponding line is called. A rhyme that appeared in 1728 for the first time and still entertain little ones today.

What about “flower power” during the hippie era, when everyone and everything was wild and happy and free. Bare feet, adorned with hippie shoes (crochet, twine, lace or macramé and beads) with no sole. Toe rings were high fashion and testament to your free spirit. A very cool accessory at the time. Worn by rebels, Bohemians, Goths, babysitters, beach bums and every girl on the street. What were we thinking? some shout.

Why on this earth would anybody want to accentuate the ugliest (arguably – you have men with foot fetish!) part of the human body? Most of the time, that piece of jewelry was worn on the second toe. The long and knobbly one next to the big toe. This is probably because this toe is normally the longest toe and it is thus easy to put a ring onto that. Did women think that a small piece of jewelry could camouflage whatever shape her toe was?

The Toe Ring Lady, Marjorie Borell, introduced toe rings to America in 1973. She had a Toe Ring Boutique in New York and later sold them in Bloomingdale’s due to its popularity. During the 90’s when this trend was at an all-time high, it was indeed sad and gross to not decorate your feet and toes, and to not paint your toenails, was unthinkable.

Trends and fashion halo’s or mishaps apart, toe rings have a long history. It can be traced back to ancient Egyptian times, 3000 – 2000 years back. Before and during Tutankhamen’s rule. True! Archaeologists unearthed skeletons with toe rings made of copper alloy. For fashion, or to dart off evil spirits and pose some magic? And, to further the mystery one of the skeletons was that of a man. Another mummy (which now shows off its thick gold toe ring on the big toe of his left foot at the British Museum) was found. He was a priest in his lifetime. Religious purposes? Or decorative, like the toe rings worn in the 19th century, called mirror rings. Small pieces and shards of used mirror were placed on these toe rings to enhance the big toes. Mirror, mirror on the wall…

⦁ But, the actual wearers of toe rings can be found in India and a few other Asian countries. Toe rings are a major custom and important cultural symbol in these countries. Tradition indicates that Indian women wear toe rings to communicate/disclose their marital status. Previously a pair of matching rings were worn on the same toe on both feet, by brides and married women only. Mostly the toe next to the big toe. The bridegroom supposedly, puts these rings on his bride’s toes, never to be removed.

Today, a modern version has these brides wear more than one matching ring to decorate their toes, sometimes up to five rings on each foot. In India these rings were mostly made of silver, in ornate fashion. As Silver being a good conductor, it also absorbs the energy from the polar energies from the earth and passes it to the body, thus refreshing the whole-body system. Gold was seldom used, as gold has a respected status and may not be worn below the waist by Hindus. Not everyone follows this to the point and nowadays you will find toe rings made of gold and even adorned by diamonds. These toe rings, or Metti, has always been flamboyant in its style, especially for those from a wealthy background.

⦁ Toe rings were also used for curative purposes and to ward off evil spirits, as indicated in Ayurveda (a traditional system of medicine) and acupressure. Body systems (prana or life force) need to be calm, healthy and in balance. This is done by living and eating healthily and practising yoga, acupressure and reflexology. Toe rings have a role to play as well. Toe rings work on pressure points in the nerves of the toes, to help with gynaecological health issues. Men also frequently wear toe rings on their big toes for masculine vigour and effect. It is said that in ancient times, when people used to go barefoot, the toe ring was a way to identify married men. Ladies were supposed to look down and this way they had a clear view of the feet of all men encountered …. shame, poor women! To like a man on the appearance of his feet. This little piggy….

⦁ In western countries toe rings have become a fashion accessory to be used for decorative purposes, with no symbolic meaning. Some women do not want to embark on these rings for style, and are not sure whether they can pull this look off. But, remember, toe rings are just like other items of beauty (necklace, perfume, henna, flowers, bangles, anklets, rings, etc). It is used to decorate and beautify a woman; toe rings can make a statement of its own and be a reflection of who you are. Edgy, unique, fun, flirty, feminine, funky, stylish and sexy. These are worn with bare feet, sandals and flip flops, even to beach weddings. In many shapes and forms, in precious and non-precious metal, with elaborate flowers and jewels, or just plain and simple. Like the latest craze of silicone toe rings, by Orbit Rings. It’s a trend which highlights feminine poise and style – just keep your feet perfectly groomed with ideal pedicure and nails painted a vibrant shade!

But, what about the other sex: male toe rings. American surfers (of the male kind) were the first group of men to adorn their feet with rings. Although not generally socially accepted at the time, it was gaining popularity and some of the designs were masculine and robust. Will men in South Africa wear that? Only the ones comfortable in their bodies, who wants their feet to be trendy as well. However, it is considered controversial and may be regarded as effeminate on a man.

In order to get an accurate measurement of your toe for ring sizing, simply wrap a piece of string or slip of paper around the toe. After marking the size, place the string or paper flat against a ruler and mark the number of millimetres. Then find the corresponding size on the international sizing table on Orbit’s webpage. Women commonly choose a size three to four and men a five or six. 

Toe rings can be a fun and fresh accessory to try all year round. Hide your imperfections with shine and sparkle.


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