The Return of Cleavage
A glossy new “Vogue” magazine, the August fall fashion issue, was in my purse. We were about to get on a plane, and I needed some lightweight reading material for the gate area and early airborne time before passengers are allowed to use laptops. My interest was piqued by the cover title, “The Age Issue.” In my 20s, I bought the fall fashion issue every August. But in my 30s and beyond, there was no need. Surviving spit-up didn’t work so well with being “in style.” Durability, stain-resistant, and no dry cleaning became priority clothing requirements.
The magazine’s table of contents features a photo of a voluptuous beauty, reminiscent of an old world painting with the title, “The Return of Cleavage,” page 210. Have you noticed this new trend? Sadly it’s hard to miss. Plunging v-neck blouses, dresses, and jackets sans blouse or top are everywhere. Most disturbing to me are the women on conservative news channels who often, though not always, dress for an evening dinner date rather than reporting and commenting on the news which is usually somber and serious. The cleavage shown while they are displayed on American big screen TVs is truly distracting. And I’m a female. I honestly can’t imagine men watching in their living rooms or the men in the live studios not fighting their eyes dropping the 12 inches from face to breasts!
Fashionistas have always pushed the boundaries in skirt lengths, the sheerness or elasticity of fabrics, and, of course, in the various ways a woman’s breasts are enhanced or hidden. Though I find this new trend disturbing, it’s not surprising. Real women — we moms and sisters and friends — have in return taken the popular fashion trends and subdued them to much more appropriate forms. Intuitively, we know the extremes suggested by designers are not practical, nor are they modest.
Our daughters are the ones for whom I fear. These single girls and young women are particularly susceptible to fitting in, to being attractive. Wendy Shalit’s book, “A Return to Modesty,” is the best rebuttal to the article, “The Return of Cleavage” and to the flagrant displaying of cleavage from the newsroom to the schoolroom. Every Christian woman needs to own this book, especially if you have daughters. My copy is heavily underlined. Ms. Shalit writes, “We’ve mixed up the proper objects of our shame. We are ashamed of smoking, but not see-through clothes for young girls. At college, we are to be ashamed of wanting to learn,” and I would add, but not of dressing like what we used to call “street walkers.” Wendy makes the claim in one chapter, well-documented with facts, that immodesty is a factor in the rise in crime against women in our society. “In our well-intentioned effort to keep our daughters ‘independent-minded,’ we have grown too afraid to give them any advice, to step in on their behalf,” she states. Too many young women would never believe they are inviting not just stares, but far more from young men who are led by their passions. We must tell them. Don’t be afraid of your daughter’s response. Be afraid of what could happen to her if she is advertising her body too freely.
And I sometimes wonder if we should risk telling those girls who are not our daughters and the young women we do not know. Perhaps they have no one thinking about their safety. What do you think?