What the Fetish?!

All for one, and one for all—the Three Musketeers said it themselves. Who knew they could have just as easily been referring to fetishes?

With one (or more) things that help us all get off, the world of kink seems to be one of the most culturally mysterious yet personally familiar concepts around.

The case can be made that each one of us has a fetish of some kind, but what does that really mean? While we don’t all secretly lust after seducing a mannequin or wearing an adult diaper, there’s still something out there that helps get one in three people’s experimental motors running.

“Fetish” itself is best explained as deriving sexual arousal from something not ordinarily associated with sex. The given object, body part or other act can range from being absolutely essential, to playing more of a supporting role in the stimulation.

So when it comes to explaining quite where fetishes come from, science has a few theories.

One of the most popular is Pavlovian conditioning. It says that repeated exposure to something (say, a photo of a stiletto heel) while aroused results in getting automatically turned on by said thing later on. Another big one suggests some people are simply more susceptible to arousal than others. The community also maintains many people can trace their fetish’s origin back to a significant time when they first experienced it, some dating as far back as childhood.

But whatever the chosen theory, scientists do agree on one thing. Just like the Girl Scouts always said—we make new friends and keep the old ones; it’s definitely possible to develop new fetishes, but rarely do old ones go away.

With so many different personalities in the world, it makes sense there are a plethora of fetishes to match…549 to be exact. So here are just a few of the most common ones:

Feet Fixation

Usually more prevalent with men, the infamous ‘foot fetish’ includes that of feet, shoes and stockings alike. Touching, smelling, even licking—this category seems to know no restraint (for that, see below). Although bizarre to some, its inception is completely logical when truly broken down.

So much erotic imagery surrounds women in high heels, especially paired with lingerie, and the quest for female dominance. So, it’s not hard to see how a foot fetish might form. In fact, feet have been officially deemed the most “lusted after” body part.



BDSM is perhaps one of the most widely accepted fetishes, it’s drifting away from the taboo status it once came.

Experimenting with elements of restraint, sensation, dominance/submission and other psychological role playing, BDSM is one of the largest facets of kink by far. Covering so many sub-sects of play, the category can be practiced in every level of extremity. Some embrace it as an entire “alternative lifestyle”, while others just enjoy throwing in a set of fuzzy handcuffs to spice up the power exchange. Both of which can totally work!



In an age where gender fluidity is becoming more accepted, wearing clothing opposite of the gender you identify with isn’t actually that outlandish. For this, however, we’re talking about much more than John Tucker getting his entire high school basketball team to wear thongs during practice.

Whether straight, gay or somewhere in the middle, getting off by wearing the opposite sex’s clothes is another fairly popular fetish. For some, it’s the enjoyment of role reversal, liking the difference in fabric, or even flashbacks of mulling through mom’s closet during childhood. As the case with every fetish, attraction to it boils down to each person’s unique experience.


So with all of that said, it remains to be seen if Whiplr will ever become the new Tinder; FetLife the new Facebook; and KinkBnB the new Millennial travel staple. Although stigmas remain, at least there’s never a shortage of new things to explore.



Alex Anderson is an LA-based lifestyle designer proactively raging against the cultural grain. By day she works in television production, and by night enjoys writing, sewing and seeking guidance from the stars. She will also one day have a Norwegian Forest Cat named “Cher”. You can follow her website (www.alexjanderson.com) and on Instagram (@AJAndMore)!

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