According to twitter, clearly the world’s authority on everything ever, today is Cleavage Appreciation Day. Obviously some women have gotten really into it, tweeting shots of their cleavage (or even just their bra-clad boobs), with the hashtag #CleavageAppreciationDay. Other women are pretty against it, and they’re calling out basically all women who show cleavage ever as 1) lacking self-respect 2) being desperate for attention and/or 3) acting slutty. Some men are all “Woo, boobs!” and some men are all, “How darest these harlots cause me to have sinful thoughts?”
This is a pretty clear example of a larger debate in American society. Hell, to an extent, it’s an example of a lifelong issue within Christianity. Women are either the Virgin or the Whore, and we are criticized heavily regardless of our choice.
But I’ve already discussed the prude/slut dichotomy. This post is about boobs, a companion piece of sorts to my previous rant on boob-shaming. If I write this correctly, I will somehow tie together my problem with the Church’s view on modesty, my support of female sexuality, rape culture, and body autonomy. All with pictures of my cleavage and pissed off indignation that some people have the audacity to think they know anything about me based on my aforementioned cleavage.
|Age 19, Delta Nu* Initiation Banquet. An outfit heavily criticized for showing "too much" cleavage.|
I am not the first person to criticize “Modest is Hottest” and how the Church objectifies women under the guise of keeping men from sinful temptation. Nor will I be the last. Other people have said everything I feel already, with more eloquence. So for now, I’m just going to summarize my personal experiences and feelings on it.
The first time I ever really felt like an object… The first time I ever felt like my body was more important than my personality… The
second time I ever felt ashamed of my breasts… The first time I ever felt like
maybe sin was completely impossible to stop…
Was when I hit puberty later than most teenage girls, and developed large breasts that kept growing & growing…
And some “well-meaning” individuals… Some hypocritical individuals… My controlling twin brother…
All thought it was their place to criticize my dress for its lack of modesty and to point out how distracting my newly-large breasts were to teenage boys.
Just for the record, my personal style didn’t change all that much from when I was 14 to when I was 18. I started wearing ribbed tank tops when I was 15, a staple I still wear all summer long. I wore the same kinds of clothes with an A-cup as I did with a B-cup, and a C-cup, and a D-cup, and later on, a DD-cup, just in bigger sizes. My activities didn’t change—I still danced, and starred in community theatre, and outperformed most of my classmates academically, and attended church every week, and refused to drink or smoke, and read books all the time, and crushed on the same guy I’d liked since the 8th grade.
I don’t know which teenage boys “stumbled in their walk” because I developed large breasts, but I can assure you, I received the same lack of attention from guys that I had always received. I continued to be everyone’s friend and no one’s romantic interest.
But thanks to all these so-called Christians, I felt objectified. Guess what. I felt that way because they were objectifying me.
But hey, at least the Church has its reasons for controlling anything sexual. The Church believes that premarital sex is a sin (I don’t), and obviously, many Christians are thus going to advocate against all things sexy.
What I don’t understand are the men and women who are happily engaging in premarital sexual activity but lambasting women as sluts.
|Age 21, at a bar during spring break. I had kissed a grand total of four men at this point, but... My boobs are bigger than yours. Does that make me a slut?|
You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.
Haven’t we been over this? A woman who reveals more skin than you arbitrarily find appropriate is NOT A SLUT. In fact, a slut is not a real thing. A slut is a word we throw at women who have made choices we don’t like.
|Age 22, at the debutante ball, in a floor-length gown. This would have been totally modest during some time periods--my ankles were covered! Hello, arbitrary standard of skin.|
Hey, twitter, how would y’all feel if I started calling any and all of you who have had more than one sexual partner a bunch of SLUTS?
You’d be pissed off. I just arbitrarily decided on a standard that deviates from my choices, and I decided that standard equals SLUT.
By calling a woman a slut based on her clothes, you are doing two things. 1) You are equating clothing with sexual choices 2) You are saying women don’t have sexual choices.
So stop that.
Do I really need to spell out how this all contributes to rape culture? Yes? Fine, then. By holding women to a certain standard of dress and/or sexual freedom, you are saying that any woman who deviates from that standard is thus culpable for her rape.
|Age 22, pre-gaming a night out in Paris. Guess what. I wore short-shorts, and sexy red heels, and a low-cut top, and make-up, and no one sexually assaulted me!|
My last point is perhaps the most difficult to articulate, mainly because I see both sides of the issue.
On the one hand, the media constantly objectifies women and treats them as sexual beings just ready for a man to enjoy at his leisure. On this hand, girls and women constantly receive the message that to matter, they must be sexy. On this same hand, some women will dress in an intentionally provocative way because they equate self-worth with attention from men.
ON THE OTHER HAND. Not all women have been completely brainwashed by our culture’s obsession with sex. Some of us (MOI) love our bodies. Some of us (MOI) love our boobs. Some of us have enough self-confidence to spare, and our self-confidence stems from our personalities, NOT our bodies. (Again, that would be MOI).
I love my body (when it’s healthy), at all sizes. I love my brains. I love my sense of humor. I love my passion for gender equality. I love my legs. I love my French-inspired fashion (I wear a lot of black, white, and gray). I love my boobs. I love my friends. I love how I’m (slowly) decorating my apartment. I love my job. I love my boyfriend.
When I’m getting dressed in the morning, I don’t have the single thought “How can I be sexually attractive to men?” but rather “How can this outfit reflect everything I love about my life?”
So I take offense at the implication that just because I’m rocking some hot cleavage, I lack self-respect.
I know this is hard to believe, but my boobs have nothing to do with you. My cleavage is not on display for you. Your opinion of my boobs is irrelevant.
All right, readers. I want to hear from y'all. How do you feel about boobs and cleavage?
*Totally my fake sorority.