Fetishism was introduced as a psychological scientific term in 1887 by Alfred Binet and meant sexual admiration of an inanimate object. By then, fetishism was considered pathological. In time, the term's meaning was extended, e. g. in 1912 Richard von Krafft-Ebing referred to fetishism as the admiration of body parts. In 1927 Sigmund Freud published his psychoanalytic view of fetishism which reached non-scientific readers also and made the term popular.
With the Kinsey report and the sexual revolution, scientists parted more and more with the idea of fetishism being an illness. As a consequence, the diagnostic criteria for paraphilia—and with that at the same time for fetishism—were made more precise and strict. During that process, the two major diagnostic manuals ICD and DSM diverged in their interpretation: While today ICD has returned to the original idea of inanimate objects only, DSM still includes body parts. Today, the scientific term fetishism still is subject to discussions about scientific relevance and political correctness.
In some cases, "fetishism" has been used to name aspects of a nation's predominant ideal of beauty, e.g. the preference for small feet in old China or the modern western preference for big breasts. Yet, a formal social scientific concept of fetishism has never been introduced. Nor has it been shown that a change in the ideal of beauty goes together with a change in number or type of fetishists. However, it must be noted that all features which do not form a part of an ethnic group's predominant ideal may preferredly be called fetishes.
In modern popular culture, "fetishism" is widely spread and has gained a much broader meaning. Usually it is used to name any sexual preference which is perceived as unusual: overweight, race and hair color are examples for physical features that popularly are considered fetishes (fat fetishism, racial fetish, redhead fetishism). Often, "fetish" is used in combination with BDSM or even to name sadomasochistic practices although basically these two orientations have nothing in common. The tendency to call more and more sexual preferences fetishism has long been target of parody.
"Fetishism" in its sexual meaning must not be confused with the original anthropological concept of fetishism or socio-philosophical concepts derived from this one, e. g. Karl Marx's "commodity fetishism". Here, fetishism names the god-like admiration of objects which has nothing to do with any sexual interests whatsoever.
The coexistence of all these contradictory interpretations often causes misunderstandings and can even lead to wrong diagnosis and treatment.
Do hope this helps you my friend.............