If you aren’t a woman with larger-than-average breasts then you probably don’t understand the cleavage problem. Most of the clothing I wear shows my cleavage in one way or another whether I’m trying to be sexually provocative or not. Short of high collared shirts and dresses there’s a more than likely chance I’m exposing cleavage on any given day. Tops that look “sweet” or “cute” on smaller breasted women end up looking “slutty” on me.
This has rarely bothers me (I’m proud of my breasts and I don’t give much thought to others’ opinions of them), save a few times when my laundry hamper was full and I was stuck between a tit and a hard place when trying to dress for work or family functions. This morning, however, I read about Brittany Minder, a high school senior from Washington state who was made to cover up her breasts at her prom. She felt the magic was gone and left after only an hour.
Minder wore a purple sparkly strapless dress that, yes, showed her cleavage which violated the school’s dress code (which I also take issue with but more on that another time). However, a smaller chested girl in the exact same dress style would have been permitted in. Guess what, Minder is going to show cleavage virtually no matter what she wears.
Prom dress necklines rarely reach the collar bone and the ones that do are probably rarely bought by any but the most conservative of teens (or their parents). To force her to cover up says to her you are less worthy because of your natural female figure.
So I was annoyed. I felt for this girl because I know what it’s like to be showing the cleav’ no matter what. And then I read this article on Policy Mic, a website I tend to respect and enjoy. The author, Stephanie Northwood, spent a good chunk of the article complaining that this story shouldn’t be discussed in the media because it’s not newsworthy and also argues that being large breasted like being a man with “extremely large feet” and that Minder should have chosen a higher neckline. First of all, being large breasted is not like being a man with big feet. People don’t ogle your feet or yell out “hey lemme see dem toes” and you won’t get kicked out of your senior prom for your exposing your feet (okay, maybe sandals aren’t allowed at senior proms but for different reasons than low cut dresses).
I did some Facebook snooping on Northwood and as I suspected she is small chested. She has no idea what the feeling of clothes shopping or getting dressed in the morning every day is like for someone with large breasts. Or what it must have felt like to be shamed at your own senior prom, a day when she’s just trying to feel beautiful and have fun with her friends.
Is this newsworthy? Well it’s being reported on left and right so de facto I guess it is. Is it as important as what’s going on in Turkey? Of course not. It’s not even as big a deal as some other prom stories like the first-ever (in 2013!) integrated prom in one part of Georgia or the multiple instances of gay and lesbian students being banned from their proms. But it is a big deal. It’s about the forced sexualization of women and girls. It’s about a woman’s right to feel comfortable in her body and her fashion choices. It’s a body image thing, it’s a woman’s rights thing. And if Policy Mic and the administration at Minder’s school can’t understand that, well that’s an issue to.