Taking X-Rays of Women in Corsets Was a Haunting Use of New Technology

By Lily Newman on at

Any tech that allows humans a new type of insight is inevitably turned on ourselves. We want to know what else we can find out from peering in on our bodies or minds in a new way. Of course, X-ray machines were pretty much used from the start for that purpose, but it's amazing to see these 1908 photos examining how a fashion trend was impacting health.

Even with countless anatomical mysteries available to image for the first time, the French doctor Ludovic O’Followell chose to look at and write a treatise on the corset, publishing Le Corset in 1908 (X-rays were discovered in 1895). His images reveal how significantly corsets deformed the lower ribs, pushing them into each other in really gross ways. And even though organs don't show up on X-rays, it's pretty clear that the space left for them was inadequate. Even after seeing these, O’Followell just advocated for modified corsets, not getting rid of them all together. Baby steps, people. [The Public Domain Review via Digg]