In the 1860s, American women bent over backward frontward to remain fashionably relevant. Pitched forward by the weighty combination of side-poufy panniers and rump-amplifying bustles and further restricted by de riguer tight-laced corsets and high heels, well-dressed women strolled down sidewalks as if always on the lookout for lost contact lenses. Even sitting down provided no upright relief.
Nicknamed the Grecian Bend, this posture became the object of both national reporting and parody. Not surprisingly, it was mocked as an example of women's vanity and vapidity. But, in a very man-repeller kind of way, some women staunchly defended their right to wear what they wished, backaches be damned.
As noted over at Slate, Laura Redden Searing (under a masculine pen name) wrote in 1868 in The New York Times:
The Grecian Bend made its way in Gilbert's music book since it was also a popular subject of Victorian-era sheet music in all sorts of arrangements, including "galops, mazurkas, waltzes, and marches." See also this cover of the sheet music for "The Original Grecian Band: A Grand March" featuring a high-heeled gent mimicking the Grecian Bend. Such jokers, those Victorians!
Western women everywhere, it seems, were engaging in a sport of Extreme Walking. For as strange as the Grecian Bend certainly was, it was bested by the Alexandra Limp happening around the same time on sidewalks across the pond. Then by 1870, changing fashions -- for better or worse -- put both spine-threatening fads out of their misery.