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To Cleave or not to Cleave, that is the Question

December 8, 2013

CleavageCleavage. What’s one to think of it these days? I have been having an ongoing debate, mostly with my silent, refuse-to-take-a-stand husband, on the issue of the overabundance of cleavage in the media. One can clearly understand why he is ambivalent on the subject, but really, shouldn’t we all take a stand? Men and women? Or, at the very least be aware of and own what we are doing? Are we simply standing back and watching the deterioration of our culture “unfold” into every area of our lives?  Remain silent as decorum and respectability fall into never-never land? Compromise self-respect and dignity for political correctness? It is no wonder we are without direction in this country. Our media, a thing that continues to mushroom and invade every corner of our lives, is quite without ethics or morality and a whole generation has been raised and nurtured by it.  They did and do not have a Walter Cronkite, or a Mayberry, My Three Sons, Eddie’s Father, Leave It to Beaver frame of reference. Though we later saw these as a fantasy , they were at least a positive ideal toward which to aspire.

I come to you with an open mind, looking for your wise and thoughtful feedback. I am looking for a balanced perspective. On the one hand, I am not an individual who abhors the human body, nor do I believe it should be covered at all times. Over the years I’ve found a comfortable middle ground for myself. My husband, like many, finds the idea of a nudist colony intriguing. I’ve assured him, however, that should he choose to follow this pursuit, he will be going it alone.  While I see the value in getting down to basics and minimizing pretense, for me,  when it comes to clothing,  there’s a level of comfort that I enjoy from covering up, not least of all, it’s ability to keep me warm! I also value self-expression and one’s desire to be exactly who they are.  I work toward that end every day, and I understand that end is different for each individual.

I also know that just because one attempts to be exactly who they are in any given situation, it doesn’t follow that no judgment takes place. It’s human nature to judge. Judging is how we find our footing in the world.  It has its place, and I have used my impeccable judgment to determine that my hips and thighs, while they may look better naked to some, look better to me attractively hidden from sight by clothing. I digress. Where was I.

Ah, yes, the beauty of the body. I find the female form a thing of beauty, especially unadorned. In my estimation it was designed perfectly by our creator, the One That Cannot Be Named, with the wisdom that only a divine perspective could create; designed for form and function. It is a marvel. The female body carries within it the amazing capacity to transform multiple times in the course of one woman’s lifetime, morphing from a child to a mate magnet, from a young woman to the perfect host for the creation of another human being, carrying, in part, the awesome responsibility for the perpetuation of the species; then morphing again into a nurturing, protective, being, a source of sustenance, tenderness, strength and stamina for the protection and nurturance of the young; and once more transforming into the round soft mature woman who provides comfort and wisdom for the ages. I have such awe and reverence for the gift we all have been given and carry with us each day into the world.

So, when it comes to cleavage being used as an adornment, much like jewelry, I find something amiss. Perhaps it’s simply that, for me, this new fascination or style, if you will, is the further objectification of the female body, and sadly it is being done by women themselves this time. It’s an ego based endeavor at best, like sporting a diamond necklace or driving up to a party in a Porsche.  I somehow find it to be denigrating as such.

I’m perfectly comfortable with women who enhance their beauty, particularly during the time they are interested in attracting a mate. That’s simply human nature. Beyond that, I believe that our time and attention might be better spent enhancing the beauty within. There is so much more to being a woman than our cleavage. Why muddy the waters?

What place does cleavage have on the nightly news? What place does it have in a teenage character on a weekly sitcom who is hanging out with her twelve-year-old brother? What is it all about?  More importantly, what message is being conveyed to the younger generation? For me, it’s a distraction and of questionable propriety. It is not so much a moral issue as one of values, respect for oneself and a balanced perspective. Where are our values in this country when it comes to such things? I truly believe there is more to this issue than being old-fashioned and moralistic. In the end I find myself to be open-minded.

I’m searching for the higher ground here and though I could write pages more on the subject, I will leave it here for you to dissect. Please do. I would love to read your feedback, no matter where you fall in the continuum.

© Dorothy Sander 2013


19 Comments leave one →
  1. December 8, 2013 5:14 pm

    I’m rather athletic and a yoga fanatic, hence I tend to wear “yoga gear” with crew-neck style shirts and comfy, caprice-length pants. When I teach a class or give a presentation, I dress modestly. (Pssst…I’m flat as a board, I have nothing to cleave)…

    • December 8, 2013 5:51 pm

      ha ha ha – I’m the exact opposite, Laurie, but nothing is where it’s supposed to be anymore. It would take a crane to hoist ’em and keep ’em there now. It makes me tired just thinking about it! Not to mention that I would in no way be able to see my feet or where I was walking! 🙂

  2. Rachael permalink
    December 8, 2013 5:26 pm

    Everywhere I look, from teenagers to women in their fifties, I see breasts bulging out. I think it’s grotesque. Women seem to be chained like slaves to a fashion industry that loathes and degrades them. I have never never worn a top that exposed cleavage, not because of any moral objections, but because I think it’s beneath my dignity. Would any man walk around town with his genitals exposed?

    • December 8, 2013 6:29 pm

      The fashion industry does seem to have a powerful influence over women and styles. I have no idea how much the industry is driven or not by males, but I’m quite certain it’s driven by the $, and research shows that sex sells.

  3. December 8, 2013 5:55 pm

    In adult women I’m okay with it. It’s not my business. I don’t flaunt mine and haven’t since my son was born and the weight gain never went away. I wore bikinis at the beach before he came into the world, but since then am much more modest, wearing loser and more generous cuts of cloth. You can hide a world of cellulite underneath a tunic.

    For very young girls I don’t think it’s appropriate. But then times are a changin’. I remember how disturbed parents used to get over boys letting their hair grow long. Yes it’s apples and oranges, but the it’s the same idea. As we age it’s hard to watch the values around us changing. but that’s is part of life.

    • December 8, 2013 6:36 pm

      My Dad wore a suit, overcoat, and hat to work every day of his life and to church on Sundays. Like many of our generation, my mother wore aprons, and I wore a skirt (and stockings after a certain age) o school every day. We fought hard as young adults to gain freedom of dress and I believe we succeeded. There is very little that one can pinpoint as unfashionable, at least to my untrained eye, perhaps the only way to stand out now is to show some skin. Yes, times they are a changin’!

  4. December 8, 2013 9:10 pm

    I’m all for cleavage (as I have plenty), but, as all things, at the right time and place.

    On the nightly news? I don’t think so. At the PTA meetings? Not there either, unless you can’t possibly hide a portion of it because you just had a baby.

    On the other hand, that particular “region” has been one of my few assets as a small woman in an increasingly giant world helped along by 6″ heels. I do bare (some) cleavage when I’m so inclined, and I imagine that’s a judgment call – for me, and those who may get an eyeful.

    That said – at a client meeting? I don’t think so. I’d like the attention on my words, not my body parts.

    • December 8, 2013 9:57 pm

      Love it! I can always count on you for a rational, straight-forward perspective! Thanks for sharing it, D. 🙂

  5. December 9, 2013 6:27 am

    I’m with D.A. Wolf on this one. Has to be appropriate to the occasion. Definitely not for business – as you say it’s a judgement call, and I do believe that by the time we reach our 50s we instinctively know just how much cleavage its appropriate to show. In fact I don’t really give it a second thought. As a woman with curves working in a predominantly male industry for most of my career I always had to dress in a way that I would be taken seriously – but stay feminine – and cleavage had no part in that! 🙂

    • December 9, 2013 11:19 am

      The rational, sensible mind prevails! I’d be curious to learn what the general attitude is on your side of the pond among young people. Do they dress as provocatively as Americans girls do? Thanks for your comments, Ceri.

  6. December 9, 2013 6:57 am

    As I wander around my world I am constantly amazed at what women wear that is not just inappropriate, but completely unflattering! Tight tight tight clothes that show every bulge and dimple….I’m of your generation, Dorothy, with the skirts and stockings. And with that mindset also came lessons on ‘that makes you look fat’, ‘that emphasizes your hips/thighs’, ‘that’s too old/ young for you and makes you look silly’, ‘that outfit is not appropriate for this occasion’. Where did those lessons go? How is it that younger women today have not learned there is a time and place for everything, that mystery is more alluring than in your face ‘come and get it’? Over the last three years I’ve lost 80#, shrunk my hips by about 15″. For the first time since childhood I no longer have thunder thighs. It’s tempting to dress sexy, to show some cleavage, I feel young [er] again! And, seriously, who wants to see the wrinkled skin that comes with weight loss at my age? The wrinkled skin blessing has forced me to be smarter and more subtle in my sexuality. A lesson the media in general could surely use! IMHO.

    • December 9, 2013 11:15 am

      I oscillate between feeling that we pay too much attention to the rules, while the younger generation pays too little. I love free expression, dress as art, but the whole sexualizing of men, women and children in the media and the subsequent perhaps mimicking by the the public I find to be evidence of low self-esteem and a disconnect between body, mind and spirit. I posted this article on FB and one responder reminded me that “Cleavage ~ nothing new under the sun.” She’s absolutely right, of course. Sex, healthy or un-healthy, has always been a powerful force in the world. Maybe I just momentarily got hung up on the details, when the real issue, as I see it is about a question of balance. An over-emphasis on sexual expression may just be an under-emphasis on our spiritual nature. Love hearing your thoughts, Kathy. How ever did you lose all that weight? I bet you feel great!

      • December 11, 2013 7:09 am

        The diet that created horrible brain fog also gave me an overgrowth of yeast in the gut. I had blood & saliva tests done, and found that even though I was taking supplements [like 5000 units of Vit D a day], not much was getting through to where it needed to go. So I cut out food that feeds the yeast……bread, pasta, crackers, pancakes, starchy vegetables, fruit, pretty much everything but meat and some veggies! [Lots of whining in the beginning!]. Dairy and soy set my thermostat into overdrive so I cut them out too. No alcohol. I stuck with it for well over a year, and little by little have let some things back in. Butternut squash…yum comfort food! Bread at one particular restaurant, an occasional glass of wine. A bit of cheese. Even some chocolate now and then. I repeated the labs recently, found some things are still a bit off but the yeast is down to normal levels. I find I feel so much better without the bread/pasta foods that I have no desire to go back to them. My husband finds that gluten exacerbates his winter blues, so we try to stay gluten free. I also switched from swimming to machines at the gym. For the first time in my adult life I have no thunder thighs!

      • December 11, 2013 11:57 am

        I’ve read about this and also understand that the use of antibiotics adds to the problem. Thanks for sharing your story! First hand stories help confirm many conditions that are not well documented or researched.

  7. December 9, 2013 12:58 pm

    I believe there is a time and a place. No cleavage for business. Definitely not for teenagers. There is a way to dress elegant and be diplomatic and not sleezy. A hint of skin can be alluring if that’s what one is after. In fact back cleavage is the new sexy apparently. Although I’m not a participant of that trend as I don’t wish to display my estrogen cleavage that has grown a home around my middle, 🙂

  8. mariahviva permalink
    December 12, 2013 2:21 pm

    Regarding the issue of cleavage…..I fear showing it may have nothing to do with ego. I am 61 years old and amply endowed. While I realize no one wants to see 61 year old flesh, I live in Texas, where it is hot, hot, hot. I wear scoop neck t-shirts in the summer which do reveal my senior rack. Sometimes, my shirt has a mind of its own, particularly when I must bend over. My girls will swing in the breeze without a care. Being aware of the “utter” sight of them….I wish there was no display. Alas, at 61 years, I have decided that it is better to be calm and cool than collected!

    • December 12, 2013 2:28 pm

      Free to be you! I love it. To me, that’s what it’s all about. Thanks for your comments mariaviva! Keep on keeping cool!

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