grecian bend

Grecian Bend: Tight corsets and big bustles were all the rage in the 1870’s. The posture forced upon women wearing these fashionable undergarments was called the Grecian Bend. As decompression injuries caused a similar posture, workers on the Brooklyn Bridge christened the syndrome “the Grecian bends,” soon shortened to “the bends.”

Found this at an antique mall today. The “Grecian Bend” was a name given to the much-derided hunched-over posture adopted by women wearing the large bustles that became popular in the 1860’s. Skirt cloth was gathered together and piled in the rear, extending the silhouette of a woman’s butt, forcing the wearer to lean forward to stay balanced. The effect was exacerbated by tight corsets and high-heeled shoes. Named after the modest stances of women common in Ancient Greek art, the Grecian Bend was a favorite target of mockery by Victorian male journalists.

And, for the record? Those are my dad’s fingernails in the picture, not mine.