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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 65.djvu/417

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women, old and young, by educating the muscles of the waist till they were able to comfortably meet all demands, actual and artificial. If corsets are claimed to be required on esthetic grounds, the reply is, that among well-constructed women, whose tissues are normal and who have acquired and retained normal attitudes, no improvement can be made by empirically adapted mechanisms. This is proved by the universal admission of the fact that a young girl of good figure does not require corsets. A bust support or special waist can be used if demanded, but this should not be a confining, unyielding cuirass. Then it follows that those who insist that elaborate molding contrivances are imperative by the making of this demand, tacitly admit that they have become already deformed. The question must then be faced whether this deformity is the mark of fate, or is due to individual culpability. If the former be true, let them accept if they must the compulsion of machinemade figures to conform to the dictates of fashion. If acquired by faulty attitudes, lethargy or epicurism, or all three, let them set about recovering as from a disease. This is entirely possible, and only otherwise if the person is irresolute or ill-taught.

Again, there are long backs and short backs, with various degrees of space between the ribs and the pelvic bones. A woman with a long back and plenty of room between the thorax and the pelvis, can wear a corset with less danger, because the greatest hurt is from interference with the action of the lower parts of the lungs. It is a grievous sin against health to restrict the chief oxygen laboratory. For this oxygen interchange full muscular action alone will not suffice; free lung room is essential. A woman with a short back, but plenty of room between ribs and hips, may wear a low or narrow corset with small danger. When there is little soft tissue between these parts the ribs are readily prevented from full play. Then not only lung action is impaired, but liver, kidneys and stomach are all compressed and made to relax from their supporting tissues, and tend to fall down confusedly toward the bottom of the abdomen. Hence arises the long train of ills growing commoner daily in all corset-wearing countries: movable kidneys, livers, dropped stomachs and intestines, and above all displaced organs of generation. The chief damage from the corset is the circular compressing action exerted upon the blood vessels of the waist, whereby passive congestions are induced in all tissues, and the great organs are forced downward, aggravating the weakness of the already mechanically frail normal supports. The straight front corset is only a little less bad, since it presses inward constantly, and all continued pressure exerts paralyzing effects on vaso-motor nerves and muscles. The least harm is done by that form of corset which has as part of its action, a low-placed firm semi-elastic belt so adjusted as to hold up the contents of the abdomen from a level with the outer hip prominence, and thus prevents the downward pressure of the rigid waist-encircling garment.