Cleavage as the Great Divide

  |   By Elisabeth Dale

I’m a huge fan of cleavage, if for no other reason than it’s proof positive that women’s breasts are powerful. They’re used to sell everything from beer to bras, and they never, ever lose their appeal.

Everyone loves boobs, no matter their age, race, or sexual orientation. Cleavage is so attractive that it's hard to ignore when it walks in the room. Which is why I coined The Breast Life mantra: “it’s not how low you go, but where and when you show.” (Except when it comes to aging crease-age, which is a whole other blog post.)

The power of cleavage, though, can’t always be controlled. I’ve witnessed grown men in serious and prolonged conversation with my abundant chest even when I had little skin on display. Breast size alone commands attention. But deliberately presenting your breasts as “tits on a platter?” That may be judged offensive. There are guides on when, where, and how best to show cleavage; opinion on the number of inches acceptable; and advice on types most attractive.

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It’s a fine line, that crease made by pushing together two mounds of flesh. There’s no such thing as “cleavage” in nature. When I take off my bra, my boobs don’t act like magnets, squeezing themselves together. I need the bra to create that special effect. Many lingerie lines encourage me to add this look to my wardrobe. Victoria’s Secret, the leading lingerie brand, wants to elevate all women---at least to the status of Angel. They're not alone in championing my chest. Ultimo recently launched their revolutionary push-up bra and Gossard's new Super Ego Boost claims it will raise my self-esteem (by 75%!) along with my bust.

Fashion magazines appear in agreement by presenting uncovered breasts on their covers. Pick up the current issue of GlamourAllure, or InStyle, and you’ll find Jennifer Lawrence pressing herself together, Nicki Minaj pouring out of a fabulous bra, and Sophia Vergara posing in a form-fitting top. The message? Cleavage is desirable. Especially when the desired demographic is women.

A recent article on the subject of Red Carpet celebrity fashion ends with a reader poll asking whether some stars “look cheap with their boobs hanging out.” Responses weighed in equally for and against, with comments about size, type (real vs. fake), and position. Male opinion came down to a single statement: for the average guy, there’s no such thing as too much cleavage. Female readers felt compelled to pass judgment on their own sex. If a woman shows off her chest it says something about the woman. And no woman is exempt from this critcism. Remember the Hillary Clinton cleavage controversy?

If women accept cleavage as a fashion choice, should there be any rules? And why do women put other women down for these breast displays? Is this a form of slut shaming? What do you think?

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