Get out the ladies, ladies! It’s National Cleavage Day! And I, your resident humorless feminist fuddy-duddy, am here to poop all over it.
National Cleavage Day is a day to celebrate having your boobs out and pushed together. Some outlets have reported that the holiday, which launched in South Africa in 2002 as a joint effort of Wonderbra and South African Cosmopolitan, was created as a way to somehow “help those suffering from leukemia and other life-threatening blood diseases,” but news coverage of the first observance made no mention of that. Wonderbra PR consultant Anita Meiring described it as “a day for women to realise that their cleavage is something unique and that they should be proud of it.” In 2006, Wonderbra brand manager Samantha Paterson said that “it gives women a chance to be beautiful and glow in the furtive, yet appreciative, glances their cleavage evokes from men.” And this year, the Sun reported that it is “held annually to celebrate women’s independence and power in their careers and relationships.”
A quick note about cleavage and careers: In my career (though certainly not everyone’s), it has to stay covered up. My wardrobe is busting (so to speak) with camisoles for this reason. A former colleague once didn’t make it through her probationary period for, among other offenses, trying to celebrate Cleavage Day every day. Trying to exercise Cleavage Power at my job would be both inappropriate and ineffective.
A quick note about cleavage and relationships: In my relationship (though certainly not all of them), Cleavage Day can be every day. But my power in our relationship doesn’t come from my boobs. The Boy and I both like to include them in many of our activities, of course, but there’s a whole love-and-mutual-respect thing that we like to do that far outstrips (so to speak) the Power of the Cleav.
A quick note about being bustifully beautiful and glowing in the furtive, appreciative glances of men: Live it up, because they’re just going to call you a slut as soon as you don’t put out. Or worse. Foundation undergarments giveth, and foundation undergarments taketh away.
Call me a joyless prude (together: “Okay, you’re a joyless prude”) but I’m just so done with boobs. We already get it every year during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, whether we’re being told to save the tatas or to post our bra colors to raise awareness of whatever. Now we have Wonderbra–a company that makes its money selling women the means to create cleavage–taking a day to impress upon us the importance of cleavage (and of course offer assistance to those sad women who have none to speak of).
Listen: If you want to flash your tits, just flash your tits. I’m serious. You don’t need my permission or the endorsement of a national holiday. Whether you want to court the male gaze or the female gaze or your own gaze, it’s not mine to tell you not to (although I might anyway). But be straight about it: You’re taking your boobs out because you want to take your boobs out. “National Cleavage Day” is actually a great, what-it-says-on-the-tin kind of name for such an occasion, although I think “National Shake What You Got Day” would be more inclusive of those with minimal to no breasts.
Just don’t try to couch it in any of this crap about power, or strength, or beauty, or–dear God–womanhood. Those things don’t come from your breasts–they are personal, not anatomical, qualities. If you feel sexier or more confident in a low-cut top, good on you, but women without breasts are no less powerful, strong, beautiful, or womanly than those with cleavage to flash.
Among my friends are women whose cleavage is difficult to corral, women whose cleavage attracts nothing but unwelcome attention, women whose cleavage is difficult to create without the use of duct tape, and women whose cleavage has been surgically removed to save their lives. If you want to celebrate women, celebrate women, and if you want to celebrate boobs, celebrate boobs. But don’t try to scramble for some noble excuse to justify an act of perfectly understandable vanity. Embrace your vanity today, and embrace your power and strength and beauty tomorrow. Or do one in the morning or the other in the afternoon, or do it on even and odd days. Just don’t get them confused and start to think that what’s in your bra is what really matters.