Many of us think it’s odd to have a thing for feet, so we’ve gathered ALL facts on podophilia to find out how many people have a foot fetish and how common it is.
More than any other single fetish in the world, people love feet. Over the past decade or so, foot fetishism has evolved from mildly taboo to relatively common.
Many of us find it strange to have a thing for feet, but we likely know several people who do. So, where do the wires between sex and toes get crossed? How many people need to see, taste, touch, or rub a foot to get their rocks off?
Our data answers all these questions and more.
Here are some highlights from our research:
- The term “foot fetish” was Googled 1,713,630 in the U.S. from April 2020 to April 2021.
- On average, Americans Google “foot worship” 40,000 times per month.
- One study found that heterosexual women are the least likely sexuality to have a foot fetish (5%), while gay and bisexual men are most likely to have one (21%).
- Nearly half (47%) of all people with body part fetishes have a thing for feet and/or toes.
- Washington, D.C., has the highest Google search rate for foot fetishes in the U.S.
- Feet and genitals occupy adjacent areas in the brain’s somatosensory cortex.
What Is a Foot Fetish?
Generally speaking, a fetish is an unusual body part or object that a person either needs to get aroused or uses to turbocharge their arousal.
Here’s the medical definition:
- Podophilia (a foot fetish) is when someone is sexually interested in feet. They find feet sexually pleasurable, and feet may be a necessary part of their sexual gratification. (Web MD, 2020)1
- Fetishes can add spice to a healthy sex life. As long as the fetish doesn’t impact someone’s well-being or safety and the partners engage enthusiastically, there’s nothing wrong with it. (Ro Health Guide, 2022)2
How Common Are Foot Fetishes?
While there hasn’t been an abundance of foot fetish research, there are several surveys and studies that provide insight into the prevalence of foot fetishism.
The prevalence varies by sexuality and gender, but a surprising number of people are searching the web for foot fetish images all the time.
Here’s the data:
- The largest percentage (33%) of people with fetishes prefer body parts or features. Fetishes for objects associated with the body are the second-largest percentage (30%). (International Journal of Impotence Research, 2007)3
- A survey of Americans found that about 1 in 7 people had a foot fantasy before. Still, the number of people primarily or only attracted to feet is likely much smaller. (Men’s Health, 2020)4
- Of people with body part fetishes, 47% have fetishes for feet and toes. (International Journal of Impotence Research, 2007)3
- Similarly, of people who fetishize objects related to body parts, footwear was the second most common fetish. 32% of people who have fetishes for objects related to body parts prefer footwear. (International Journal of Impotence Research, 2007)3
How Popular Is Foot Fetish?
- On average, Americans Google “foot worship” 40,000 times per month. (From Mars, 2021)5
- Of the top 20 fetish search terms, “foot fetish” is ranked number 11 with 1,713,630 Google searches in the U.S. from April 2020 to April 2021. (From Mars, 2021)5
How Many People Have a Foot Fetish?
- A Belgian study found that 16.6% of male and 4.1% of female respondents had a fetish for feet. (The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 2017)6
- 9.7% of overall respondents had an interest in a foot fetish.
- One study found that foot fetishes by sexuality break down into the following percentages: (Men’s Health, 2020)4
- 5% of heterosexual women
- 18% of heterosexual men
- 11% of lesbian and bisexual women
- 21% of gay and bisexual men
Which U.S. States Are Most Into Feet?
It might come as no surprise that America’s Capital city is also its number one foot-fetish search region.
If the nation’s leaders are this into feet, they may have got some other interesting things hiding in their search histories.
Here’s a breakdown of foot fetish searches by state:
- Google search data shows that the following 10 U.S. states have the highest rates of interest in foot fetishes: (From Mars, 2021)5
- 1. District of Columbia – 48 searches per 10K people
- 2. New Jersey – 46 searches per 10K people
- 3. New York – 42 searches per 10K people
- 4. Nevada – 39 searches per 10K people
- 5. California – 39 searches per 10K people
- 6. Rhode Island – 35 searches per 10K people
- 7. Texas – 34 searches per 10K people
- 8. Florida – 34 searches per 10K people
- 9. Connecticut – 32 searches per 10K people
- 10. Illinois – 32 searches per 10K people
Why Do People Have Foot Fetishes?
Where do foot fetishes come from? Fetishes can come from anywhere or anything that influences an individual’s sexual development. It could be a steamy experience with someone’s feet during adolescence, or it could be as simple as your brain crossing some wires between feet and genitalia.
Here’s the research on the origin of foot fetishes.
- One study interviewed homosexual and bisexual American men on the origins of their foot fetishes with the following results: (The Journal of Sex Research, 1995)7
- One-fifth said they had been aroused seeing their father’s feet or footwear or a direct sensual experience involving their father.
- Roughly one-quarter said their foot fetish came from sensual or sexual experiences with men older than their father.
- About one-third said childhood play with male peers was their most formative experience. This involved discovering pleasure in feet with the peer, being taught about foot play, and games such as wrestling.
- About 15% reported a wide range of foot experiences too unique to be categorized.
- Fetishes are largely considered learned behaviors, meaning people aren’t born with them. (Men’s Health, 2020)4
- Having one accidental pleasurable experience – for example, a partner stimulating your genitals with their feet – could create a positive association between feet and pleasure. This lays the groundwork for a foot fetish. (Men’s Health, 2020)4
- Feet and genitals occupy adjacent areas in the brain’s somatosensory cortex – “neural crosstalk” between these two areas could cause foot fetishes. (Psychology Today, 2014)8
Fetish Sexual Activity of American Foot Fetishists
How often do people act on their fetishes? We don’t necessarily know, but one study of homosexual and bisexual male foot fetishists does provide some insight.
Here’s what it found.
- A study of homosexual/bisexual male foot fetishists in the U.S. found that, in the past 12 months, the following percentages reported masturbating while thinking about feet/footwear: (The Journal of Sex Research, 1995)7
- 58% said they masturbated thinking about feet/footwear 3-4 times a week or more.
- 14% masturbated 1-2 times a week.
- 15% said they did this fewer than once a week.
- 2% said they never did this.
- The same study found that the following percentages reported sexual foot play with another person: (The Journal of Sex Research, 1995)7
- 5% said they did this 3-4 times a week or more.
- 14% said they did this 1-2 times a week.
- 59% said they did this fewer than once a week.
- 23% said they never did this.
If you are into this kind of kink, you should read our best foot fetish sex toys guide.
Can a Foot Fetish Be Psychologically Harmful?
While research has been conducted on the psychological harm of fetishes in general, foot-specific research is limited.
A fetish is harmful when it starts to control your life. Here’s what the aforementioned study of male foot fetishists found about the psychological effects of their fetish.
- A study of homosexual/bisexual male foot fetishists in the U.S. found that 90% had not attempted to stop their fantasies, and 69% said they felt that they couldn’t stop their fantasies if they tried. (The Journal of Sex Research, 1995)7
- The same study found the following data on these men’s personality traits:
- Social skills
- 22% said that they “feel ill at ease in the presence of others.”
- 44% said that they “tend to keep in the background on social occasions.”
- 36% said they “often feel lonely.”
- 34% said they had “problems in establishing or maintaining a close, intimate relationship with a sexual partner” in the past.
- 34% also said the same, and it is going on for them currently.
- Guilt, shame, anxiety, and depression over their fetishism
- 30% have felt “guilty, anxious, depressed or ashamed of their interest in feet/footwear.”
- 33% had “felt confused about their interest in feet/footwear.”
- Currently, only 4% said they feel confused.
- 13% “often feel downcast and dejected” in general.
- Even fewer, 4%, regretted their interest in feet/footwear.
- 21% agreed with the statement, “I wish I could have more respect for myself.”
- 28% said that they lack “self-confidence to get a sex partner.”
- 14% said that they feel “sexually inadequate.”
- Social skills
- Researchers in this study concluded that a quarter of their respondents were psychologically-troubled fetishists.
- The same study found the following data on these men’s personality traits:
Foot fetishes are the most common type of fetish, but they are often ridiculed or looked down on. They may be caused by a simple crossing of wires in the brain, sexual life experiences, or factors we don’t fully understand yet.
People don’t choose to have foot fetishes, but as many as 1 in 7 of us have at least a passing interest in them. In addition, men – especially gay or bisexual men – are more likely to have a sexual interest in feet than women.
Like any fetish, it can be psychologically harmful if it causes shame or dictates an individual’s behavior. However, there are large communities of foot fetishists worldwide. We may not all be interested in mixing sexuality with feet, but there’s no shame in it.
For more interesting sex studies, consider checking out this article.
- Web MD, 2020. An article on the specific sexual fetish toward feet – podophilia – and its characteristics.
- Ro Health Guide, 2022. An article on the different types of fetishes, the commonality of fetishes, and their potential causes.
- International Journal of Impotence Research, 2007. A study on the relative frequency of different fetishes in at least 5,000 people across 2,938 internet groups.
- Men’s Health, 2020. An article on foot fetishes, their prevalence in the population, and what causes them.
- From Mars, 2021. An article on the most Googled fetishes and kinks and the number of times each was searched from April 2020 to April 2021.
- The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 2017. A study of BDSM and BDSM-related fetishes in 1,027 Belgian men and women.
- The Journal of Sex Research, 1995. A study of 262 American homosexual or bisexual male foot fetishists to determine the causes of the fetish.
- Psychology Today, 2014. An article on foot fetishes and the potential biological causes of them.