Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Bigger They Are

This week has been a week of revelation: I have been made aware of the importance of cleavage in our society.

When I was a young woman, cleavage was an almost mystical vision that was seldom seen, except in certain magazines.  We kept our cleavage to ourselves, revealing it only when it seemed the thing to do.  And then, it had an amazing affect on the male to whom this great revelation was made.  Clothing was designed to plunge the neckline only so far, just below the collarbones.  Any lower than that often meant using a safety pin to secure the revealing part.  Now, maybe it was just a Mid-West, Bible-belt prejudice.  But, how could the fashions of the day be explained?  It was 1970, and most liberated girls who had discarded their bras wore tee-shirts with peace signs, or army jackets, and also wore long skirts with Birkenstocks.  No cleavage was part of that ensemble, I tell you.

But now, it is everywhere.  At the dentist office, the receptionist had a lovely firm cleavage, and her uniform was proud to show it off.  While I was getting my teeth cleaned, I was forced to gaze at the hygienist’s smooth chest, and young skin.  Even the young woman who worked the McDonald’s drive-thru flashed an impressive chestal view when she leaned through the window with my hot coffee, two creams and sugar-free vanilla syrup.

If I, a mature married woman with life-experiences, am confounded, surprised, amazed by the casualness of such a display, then how in the world can the male portion of society handle this daily onslaught on the senses?

Oh, when I was younger…I was a nice firm 34B.  When I jogged to class at college, there was a bounce in my step and an enticing jiggle on my chest.  Guys would follow me with their eyes as I jogged by, and then they watched my firm buttocks and slim 34” hips as I passed.  Not to brag, but I had quite a few guys follow me to see what dorm I was in, or where I had classes.  I was petite, with long brown hair, and in great physical shape, as I lived on the top floor of my dorm, and ran up and down the eight flights of stairs innumerable times a day.

Now when I ‘jog’ anywhere (doesn’t happen that often), people watch me.  They are wondering if I am alright, should they call an ambulance.  My red face and labored breathing is a pretty good indicator. They can see my voluptuous 36C babies leap all over my chest, unless I am wearing one of my delicious and luxurious Natori bras.  Those things keep the girls up and out there. 

And to be honest, those people are also seeing other parts of my body flap about because gravity has taken over.  My generation lives in denial, thinking that somehow we ‘boomers’ will be forever young, if we have enough money and plastic surgery.  Sooner or later, female members of this club will be checking the mail for Social Security checks, taking out their teeth at night, and shopping in the Alfred Dunner section at JC Penney’s. The male members (who once watched my pert little breasts pass by them) will be complaining about their prostates.

Today is a peculiar day for me, I guess.  I usually don’t think about breasts, let alone write about them.  I am not one of the ‘edgy’ writers, whom I love, read, and admire.  No, I am an introspective people watcher, who tries to see greater meaning in small events.  So today, I write about the female mammary glands.  Why, you may ask.

Today a female whom I proudly know and love, my one remaining aunt, is having a biopsy done on a lump she found on her remaining breast.  She is my fun aunt, the one who is only 15 years older than I am.  My aunt took care of me when I was newborn; her friends came over and they considered me to be their little real-live baby doll. She has lived all over the world, traveled and wrote to me about her adventures.  This aunt has survived bouts with cancer and all the following complications that come with surgery, chemo, and radiation treatments.   She came through all that hell with her usual sense of humor and way of putting things like this in perspective. 

Anne.  Kitty.  Carilyn.  Sue.  Jane.  Vada.  Those are the names of only a few family and friends who have been hit with breast cancer.  Some survived, and some died.

That’s pretty darn depressing, right there, isn’t it?  And I didn’t mean to start out writing such a doom & gloom piece.  I truly had more humor planned.  So forgive me, and let me regress some on the cleavage issue.

When my daughters were starting their adolescence, and starting to wear cute little AAA cup bras, something really strange happened.  My oldest daughter passed through the A, B, and C cups without pausing.  That girl went straight to the D cups by the time she was fifteen.  She didn’t show cleavage; she didn’t need to reveal a thing.  Every teenage boy was zeroed in on her chest, and it is still the same today.  My youngest daughter watched this development, and readied herself for her own brush with D cup fame. 

It never happened.  Where the oldest could enter a room breast-first, the youngest grew tall, with long shapely legs, and a flat chest.  She waited and waited, and finally decided it was my fault, that somehow I had short-shifted her genetically.  There are no big-breasted women on my side of the family (except me, now, at this stage of my life).  All the boob-a-lusciousness came from her father’s side and I had nothing to do with the way the chromosomes fell when they were dealt at conception.

Ah, cleavage and your devilish connection to enticing the male animal to follow you to your door!  What a mess you have made throughout history.  I bet Helen of Troy boasted an envious set of knockers.  Cleopatra?  Oh, yeah.  Marilyn Monroe—what a great package.

So, this ode to cleavage must end, for it is simply not in me to pursue it to a raunchier conclusion.  My daughters could take off with this piece, and spice it up considerably.  They are good writers and have a broader, more contemporary social vocabulary.

Oh, by the way, schedule a mammogram if you are 40 or older.  It’s important.  Those precious puppies on your chest will thank you for taking care of them.  You, too, can flash your cleavage, unless you are a male and are just merely looking at someone else’s cleavage, or….


  1. My current main character has amazing breasts and is very proud of them. Of course, 500 years ago, the focus was more on the legs than the cleavage. And she's a little bit of a wanton. Maybe it's not breasts in themselves, but the illicit glimpse of skin that society has required be covered.

  2. This was very funny! I too was one of those head turning cuties. Not at all now. I love the fact that you ended with the suggestion of a mammo...so important! thank you!
    Blessings, Joanne


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