Back in 1908, Dr. Ludovic O’Followell started a minor opposition against a piece of clothing that virtually every woman in every class level wore: the corset. In his diatribe, aptly titled Le Corset, O’ Followell provided extensive X-rays of women wearing the historic corsets in question, in the fashion of the time. His results show, unsurprisingly, strained organs, squished rib cages and evidence of serious health issues- all to be in fashion.
O’Followell’s historic X-rays of the myriad of female corset victims have recently been released on Wikimedia Commons, giving modern corset wearers a taste of their counterparts 100 years ago. The X-rays appear along with O’Followell’s original text for Le Corset, which describes at length the health issues with the respiratory, circulatory and digestive systems that are caused by corset wearing. Medical diagrams showing organ and ribcage displacement join the actual case studies of women wearing the average corset from day to day.
Despite knowing the extreme health risks from wearing the corsets of 100 years ago, O’Followell’s warning was not in complete opposition of the binding undergarment. In fact, the doctor did not want the extreme posture of fashion to be abolished, but instead created his volume to lobby for a “less severe” version for women to wear.
Although every women no longer wears a corset, they are still in fashion in a specific niche of fashion. Many modern corset makers have taken the historic health risks to heart, and designed better, more safe corsets for modern women.