“Hi! I know this is a weird question but would you ever sell feet pics?”
This direct message arrived in my Twitter messages randomly on a summer quarantine night, and it was unlike any DM I’d ever received before. Like many other women on social media, I get random messages here and there from older men asking me to be their sugar baby. But this DM was different: the man who sent it to me didn’t have two followers and a pixelated profile photo. No, this was your typical Twitter profile of a man in his early-to-mid twenties; he seemed to have friends, a job, and a life outside of his online persona.
Instead of posing for pictures, I immediately fell into a rabbit hole of the world of feet pics. I’m nosy, so I needed to know everything. What goes into a foot photo? Do people really make money? Most importantly, what’s the appeal?
I took to Twitter to find people who could answer my questions. (Pro tip: if you tweet about feet pics, you’ll get a lot of messages.)
I spoke with a feet-pic buyer, a seller, and an expert to explore the world of feet pics. (Say that ten times fast.)
David* is a 20-year-old who describes himself as “your perfectly average college student” and draws and plays games for fun. He has one interest he mostly keeps to himself: he’s been buying feet pics online for the last two years.
He’s always identified his foot fetish in his sexual preferences, but he didn’t begin buying feet pics until a lonely summer in 2018. Everyone he knew had left their college town for home, and his boredom led to his first purchase. He ended up spending $500 in that summer alone. Since then, he’s spent more than $2,000.
“The first time I did it, it was really hot,” David said. “When they text back, it’s really, really hot, and it’s kind of addicting, so you just keep at it.”
When I asked David why he bought feet pics instead of just looking them up online, he said the appeal lies in the act of acquiring the photo. He only buys pictures when he’s “in the mood” and masturbating.
“It’s totally normal. Like, it doesn’t really affect me in real life at all. I mean, other than my financials, but if I wasn’t spending this money, I’d probably just spend it on games or game consoles.”
I loved David’s openness and honesty. By the end of the interview, he reminded me of some of my friends from college. And that’s the thing—he very well could have been.
Rachel is a 23-year-old woman who started selling feet pics by chance.
“I accidentally got a $70 pedicure, and then I was like, ‘Damn, I need to sell feet pictures or something.’”
She posted about her pedicure, which led to someone reaching out and asking for pictures. She also got a lot of her customers early on from people on Depop after she posted photos of herself wearing shoes she had for sale.
Rachel has been selling feet pics for two years now. She sells them for $10 each to the same few returning customers. All of her return customers are younger men, and Rachel believes they’ve been so consistent with her because she uses her social media profiles instead of burner accounts.
Being the diligent (nosy!) interviewer I am, I asked Rachel if she sells feet pics to fulfill a fetish.
“It’s just financial for me. I mean, when I see people’s feet, I’m like, ‘It’s a foot.’”
She didn’t know much about this community before selling pictures, so she did a lot of research into the types of photos and angles people want. While it’s different for every buyer, sellers should decide if they’re willing to show their face or other parts of their body.
Rachel had important advice for anyone looking to start selling.
“Definitely set your boundaries and stay consistent with your boundaries. ‘Cause, I mean, the men will listen. They have no choice.”
Dr. Jill McDevitt is a sexologist and sexual happiness coach (and my personal idol!) based in San Diego.
She said more than 14% of people report having sexual fantasies about feet—making it the most prevalent fetish.
When I asked how common the intersection of feet and virtual sex is, Dr. McDevitt retorted, “Have you ever googled ‘foot fetish’?”
There’s a reason feet pics are increasingly talked about. Their presence online spans everywhere from foot-centric porn sites to blogs explaining how to take the perfect picture. Search “feet pics” on Twitter and you’ll see multiple tweets per minute.
Dr. McDevitt shared that the sexualization of feet varies for different people.
“They are rich in nerves, and so some enjoy their feet kissed and licked, or using their feet to sexually pleasure a partner.”
For others, it’s about power: “Since feet are often considered ‘dirty’ and ‘below us,” some are attracted to the submission of kneeling down and worshiping another’s feet, or the domination of having a sex partner worship their feet.”
Others just like how they look, “just like some people fetishize female breasts or buttocks.”
Of course, now is the perfect time to explore new sexual desires.
“Exploring fetishes…[is] likely higher on folks’ priority lists now than before,” Dr. McDevitt said. “With quarantine and social distancing, I’ve been ad nauseam recommending to people that they expand their sexual repertoire to activities beyond intercourse if they want to keep their sex lives alive and exciting.”
You heard the expert!
*Name has been changed.
Photo by Chantapitch Wiwatchaikamol for Dazed