Deforming the Spine

 Deforming The Spine


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You may not be familiar with Inès Gache-Sarraute, she has made her place in history for her part in the design of a corset. She was not the original creator of the corset of course. The corset has been around for centuries. But her design did have an impact on the women of her period and how we perceive corsets when we look back at them in history.



Gache-Sarraute was a famous French doctor. She had a medical degree and was specialized in women’s health. She spent her career looking at improving women’s health and studying their anatomy. Part of what she researched was the effect of the corset on the women’s physique. Due to being laced tightly over a long period of time, as women aged, their organs would naturally move down their body. The result was ptosis as well las a protrusion of the lower abdomen. While they had already tried to correct this issue and provide more support to the belly, it was still not adequate for correcting the issue at hand.

A New Design

In an effort to correct the sagging of the abdomen, Gache-Sarraute had the bright idea that since corsets were still quite in fashion and not going anywhere, they just needed a different kind of corset. The new design was cut so that the pressure on the waist was pushing things upward instead of downward. The corset as incredibly tight and rigid and put pressure on the lower abdomen, something its predecessor did not do. The result was a far more curved figure. And the sagging belly and organs was not such a concern any longer.


The Deformity

This new design was not without consequence, however. While Gache-Sarraute had thought that she created a corset to improve women’s health, it turned out to have different and just as severe consequences. As the new design was adopted by women all around the world, it was discovered that the intense pressure that was being placed on the lower spine was causing an unnatural “s” curve in the spine. While women at first thought this was an awesome and elegant side-effect of the corset, the back was being over-arched and causing chronic back pain. The pain would affect how women were walking, sitting, and even was affecting how well they slept due to the odd curve that their back was pushed into. Additionally, where the previous corset design did not have any detrimental effects on the internal organs outside of the shifting and sagging, the new design was placing undue pressure on the kidneys. So while the result was a nice and curvy physique, the price that was paid to gain it was not worth the result.


The End

The “s” corset didn’t really go away. It instead morphed into the modern undergarment as fashion changed again. The 1920s saw the end of the everyday corset as the fashion moved to more fluid and less constriction for women’s wear. The modern corsets are actually made from the hourglass design of Gache-Saurrate, but they do not have the same intensity or pressure placed on the lower spine that forced the curve. The ladies who like to waist train or tightlace wear the corsets that evolved from the “s” design, but its modern equivalent does not force the bottom outward as it pushes the spine inward. Not saying that the modern corsets are still really good for your body, but you are less likely to have kidney and digestive trouble with the newer designs, that is unless you cinch them incredibly tightly to get a tiny waist.

I started writing this blog about corsets kind of due to a morbid fascination. I had seen the propaganda from the 19th century that had demonstrated warped rib cages and declared all of the horrible side effects that had come from wearing the corset. Read More…


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Inès Gache-Sarraute and Deforming the Spine

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