Related feature: Medical Advice from Dr. Beaumont
Corsets: A Bit of Debunking by Edward Shorter (1982) - pertinent excerpt
Kerfing and Rib Compliance by Roger K. (2004-2005)
Prolapse, the V-Brace, and the Corset by Roger K. (2004)
Society, Physicians and the Corset by Gerhart S. Schwarz, M.D. (1979)
The Tyranny of Slenderizing by David Kunzle (2005)
Young Girls: How to Answer Your Mother's Questions and
Concerns About Wearing Corsets
by Dr. Ann Beaumont
Debunking the Main Health Risk of High Heels by Roger K.
Rena's Journal (LISA's 'Lacings of Modernity' section) - her visit to the doctor
Anton B.'s Story - How corsetry made his disability livable
"It is important to
talk about the diaphragm:
"I was looking around in Google Books and came across an 1825 medical book that contained a rather unusual argument regarding the effect of tight stays or corsets on the spine. The full argument can be found on pages 73-87 of the book, but I have extracted some of the main points below:"
The general impression is, that stays are hurtful; some persons, however, insist that they are useful and necessary, perhaps swayed by observing how much more common deformity is now, than when it was the custom to put children into stiff French stays, almost as soon as they were born... If stays are put loosely on, and only worn occasionally, and if the girl takes sufficient active exercise, and rests in a proper manner when fatigued, there is little danger of the form suffering even from strong stays. But, although, by this method, stays may be rendered almost harmless, there will be some difficulty in pursuing it, as the girl will feel the occasional bondage very uncomfortable. The annoyance produced by it, is marked by the flushing of the face from impeded respiration, and by a stiff and constrained manner of walking. The remedy generally proposed is that she should wear the stays until she gets used to them… Stays tightly laced are applied at an early age, and she is debarred from taking the exercises natural to youth... Although a girl may be absolutely tortured when she begins to wear tight stays, she soon becomes so dependant on them as to feel very uncomfortable without them… Proceeding on this view, it may be stated that if tight stays must be worn, they should be made sufficiently stiff and strong to sustain the weight which the muscles that have become deteriorated by want of action are unable to support. If the stays are not made so, (the muscles or natural means of support being already weakened) there is danger of certain ligaments of the spine yielding, and hence, of the vertebrae falling out of their natural line, and thus producing curvature of the whole column. But so prevalent is the persuasion that stays are injurious, and so little does the principle, on which they are useful or hurtful, seem to be understood, that the first thing generally recommended in a case of weakness, or yielding of the spine, is that the stays should be thrown aside, or at least that all the bones should be taken out... but when a girl is weak, to deprive her of her artificial supports, and to leave her at once to her own physical resources, seems to be acting in a manner very much at variance with the dictates of common sense... Surely we ought rather to add to the means of support for a time, than to take from them; and therefore, when the spine yields, instead of throwing aside the stays, we should make them stronger, and, if possible, in such a manner as to take off the weight of the shoulders and head, from the lower part of the spine.
Charles S.:"I've found an article from the New York Times of December 4th, 1910 which you might find interesting." ('Modern Women nearing the Perfect figure')
"However, woman more commonly consult a physician than men. The explanation is revolves around birth issues, but the fundamental cause is a weakness in the chest. Women's chests are build for expansion, and the cartilage are built for stretching during the advanced stages of pregnancy.
"Women's weakness in this regard is difficult to understand, because breathing works better (heavier) the more movable the chest. The problem is the weak breathing during rest and sleep. If you have weak breathing in the abdomen and the chest expands because of this, one suffocates and is awakened again and again during the night. If a woman does not get the proper amount of sleep, she can become mentally sick,* and that is the cause more women than men are mentally sick. "All woman ought to sleep in a belt or corset, and the sales of sleeping pill will fall."
* It is generally known that three
days without sleep results in symptoms of schizophrenia. If you
never sleep correctly you have a serious
problem, but one of the symptoms of depression is sleep-disturbances, and
after a birth, when a new mother breathes only in the chest, she
often experiences depression and anxiety (choking is anxiety-provoking).
"As a GP with nearly 30 years experience I cannot let these comments
go without correcting him with regards the medical errors
he has made.
1) Chromosomes do not cooperate or otherwise with one another to prevent illness. Chromosomes are made up of molecules of nucleoli proteins or 'genes' and only have a bearing on the embryo's physical formation. Some congenital diseases are passed from parents to their offspring, thus making them more prone to suffer from certain conditions. The division of congenital diseases between men and women is almost exactly even. Some conditions affect only one sex or the other while some conditions affect both sexes.
2) Women's chests are NOT built for more expansion than men's, indeed a man's ribcage is much larger in proportion to his stature than a woman's. Costal cartilage which joins the ribs to the sternum has very little stretch in both men and women. The only cartilage in the body that is classed as flexible makes up the septum of the nose, the pinnas (the projecting part of the ear) and the epiglottis. Women have a much larger pelvic girdle to accommodate the developing fetus, hence their larger hips - the ribcage rises during pregnancy - nothing more.
3) Breathing is carried out in the lungs, not the abdomen - the abdomen is the cavity between the diaphragm and the pelvis and contains the stomach, liver, intestines, kidneys, bladder etc. When he refers to 'suffocating,' I assume that he means sleep apnea - a condition caused by the weakness of the muscles in the neck and throat, the people being affected in most cases being overweight. This only happens when sleeping on the back and a common cure is to sew a tennis ball into the back of the pajamas, which makes people lie on their sides. No belt of any sort would correct this.
4) Lack of sleep is extremely debilitating, but I have never seen any evidence of it causing schizophrenia, which has hereditary links. Tiredness and depression usually result from sleep deprivation and sleeping pills are prescribed for a multitude of conditions - but never for sleep apnea."
Peter O. writes:
Re: Dressed to Kill: The link between Breast Cancer and Bras
"In times of old, all women cut bread on the breast, and revolved the bread so as not to cut in themselves. The good woman made a flat slice and the bad woman a wry spiral slice. The doctors of that era say so the cutting bread was cause of breast cancer.
Furthermore, a study of Danish women who had not not used bras from about 1970 to date shows no effect on breast cancer.
The war against corsets and bras appears to have a psychological underpinning (pardon the pun), not a scientific one."
Roger K. sendsthis link to five O'Fallowell x-ray photos of corsets
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