“Crooked Spines In Girls,” by Helen C. Lewis (from Arthur’s Home Magazine, July 1861; p. 46)
It is a sad fact, that nearly every young lady in fashionable life has lateral curvature of the spine.
This comes on at the age of ten or eleven, and continues slowly but steadily to increase, unnoticed even by a mother’s watchful eye, till the child is really deformed—one shoulder is much larger and higher than the other, and one hip higher, so that the dress-make is obliged to put cotton in the dress, to make the back look flat and square.
The boys—their brothers, have no such trouble; why should they? The question may well be asked by every thoughtful parent.
I answer that improper dress and other physiological errors, in which girls constantly indulge, produce this mischief.
The dress of the girl is always tighter than her brother’s, and this is begun while she is quite young, “to give her a form,” the mother says, as if God did not do this when he made the child.
This constant pressure upon the muscles of the spine, which are designed to keep it straight, causes absorption of those muscles, and as the right arm is used more than the left, the spine is drawn under the right shoulder blade, thus making it project. The muscles are so weakened by absorption, they cannot bring the spine back to its proper position, and you have a case of lateral curvature.
In addition to this tight dress, I have seen girls of thirteen and fourteen with corsets on. Often these are adopted by thoughtless mothers, in the hope to straighten the child, but under their cruel pressure, the difficulty rapidly increases, till the poor deformed girl is sent to a spinal institution to be treated.
While this difficulty is gradually increasing, the young girl is sent to school, to spend five or six hours each day bending over a low desk, and when she returns home, instead of being allowed to play ball or any other active game in the open air, as her brothers are, is placed on a high piano stool, where her toes but just touch the floor, with nothing to protect her back. In this position she must sit one long, painful hour.
Do you wonder she has a crooked spine? I wonder that any escape, for all are obliged to pass through the same killing ordeal.