Voices: Cleavage war leaves little to the imagination
By Carol Mizrahi
If you do a Google search for "bigger cleavage," you get 28,800,000 websites. On the other hand, a search for "dental hygiene" brings up only 13,500,000. That should tell you something about where the country is headed — though you don't need the Internet to apprise you of how over the top the current display of cleavage has become. Go to the malls, restaurants, food stores, and offices. Peruse magazines, watch TV, and go to the movies. Cleavage is everywhere. In your face. Women are obsessed with flaunting it. Men possessed by seeing it. And — as with any other product in a free market system — suppliers compete to fill that demand with the biggest and the best. Unfortunately, there is only one big winner in this cleavage war — the clothing industry, which sells millions of dollars worth of seductive garments each year to the wannabes. At the front of the winner's pack are the bra-makers.
Once upon a time there were only a few bra choices — wire/wireless, lace/no lace, straps/strapless — but today's women are going where no women dared go before. They can chose from a seemingly endless number of bra designs, personified with names such as Balcony, Tease Me-Thrill Me, Hustler, Hollywood, Heartbreaker Push-up Bra, Wonder of Gel, the Wonderbra Bra, and Over the Shoulder Holder, to name just a few. One cleavage professional suggests that if you want to look like a porn star, you can reach new heights by wearing two plunge bras simultaneously. This double plunge approach, however, comes with a caveat: "Beware of fall-out!"
Despite this plethora of bras for cleavage enhancement, there are few choices for the modest maid who doesn't want to maximize or publicize her breasts. Finding a bra that isn't molded, padded, wired, enhanced, plunged, pumped, cupped, sponged, gelled, or foamed is virtually impossible in today's market. The Modest Maid holds onto her tattered old bras and prays she expires before they do.
Another outsider in this cleavage competition is the less endowed 32A, who often grows up feeling inadequate. Some will resort to buying "illusions" while others may undergo cosmetic surgery.
This mammary mania is promoted by the media — print, broadcast, and social. A Twitter Tweeter with the moniker of "cleavagetweet" tweets that he/she wants to "honor" the biggest and best cleavage" and invites would-be competitors to send him/her photos of their jugs. And what's the reward for being among the biggest and the best? It's not cash. It's not coupons or points, and it's not a year's supply of much-needed sunscreen. Cleavagetweet's gift to the biggest and the best is a RE-tweet of their breasts to his/her 44,876 followers.
Whereas most cleavage exhibitionists are up-front about why they're juggling their jugs (they want to be noticed), the owners of the most bandied about boobs are a bunch of hypocrites. At last year's Oscars, female Hollywood icons were "outraged" when Seth McFarlane sang "We Saw Your Boobs." "He's trivializing us," they complained.
Yet in the audience sat over a hundred of Hollywood's biggest and best — all exposed! Hey, ladies! You can't have it both ways. When you flaunt your breasts in public, YOU are trivializing yourselves! Instead of attacking McFarlane, you should have thanked him for confirming (and musically, no less) that you're being noticed.
But the women who should be outraged are the political activists of the 1960s and '70s who led the long, hard fight to empower women, to expand their opportunities beyond the traditional roles of homemaker and sex object. How depressing that 50 years later so many women are voluntarily choosing to spend so much precious time and money on marketing a commodity with a short shelf life. In no time at all bountiful breasts wither on the vine, a 36C becomes a 36 long, and tattooed cleavage turns to wrinkled dcolletage. Better to spend one's time developing long-lasting skills.
There is also the law of diminishing return, which applies to mammary glands as well as economics. The more you see, the less the impact and value, which may explain why breasts are beginning to look more and more like cows' teats to me.
Cleavage on parade has also created a number of social dilemmas, such as what's the protocol for cleavage-looking? Is there an "appropriate" look (i.e. staring vs. glancing); for how long may one look; and do the rules of looking differ for men and women? The only etiquette I could find on the subject was that given by Jerry Seinfeld to George Constanzas after George was reprimanded for looking "too long." "What's too long?" George asked. Jerry's answer: "Looking at cleavage is like looking at the sun. If you stare too long, it's risky."
Once upon a time all it took to excite a man was the sight of a woman's ankle.
After a time, ankles became ho-hum and women began displaying the leg, from ankle to knee, and then ... knee to crotch. What's next? The tragedy is that all this public exposure is leading to the death of the greatest aphrodisiac of all — the imagination.
Carol Mizrahi is the author of the blog "The Bottom Whine" (thebottomwhine.blogspot.com) and "Coming of Age ... AGAIN," a novel. She lives in Champaign.