In other annoying fashion news, British Vogue has announced that cleavage is now out of fashion. No, you didn’t just misread that.
The article, titled “Desperately Seeking Cleavage” in their December issue, may have had good intentions but it’s absurd to deem a certain body part as ‘unfashionable’ – especially since plus-sized women don’t have a choice in whether they have cleavage or not.
Author Kathleen Baird-Murphy was inspired to write the article after noticing a decline in “pertinently pushed-up breasts everywhere from runway to red carpet.” Although Baird-Murphy claims that “the tits will not be out for the lads,” we’d like to point out that in the fashion industry, where stick-thin women and extremely small bust sizes are preferred, the tits weren’t really out to begin with.
The article goes on to talk about the decline of sales in push-up bras and the rise of more comfortable, seamless options. This is good for a number of reasons (see: the damaging effects of underwire bras on breasts over time, the high cost of lingerie, and inadequate sizing options). But does this mean that this is the end of breasts as we know them? No. Women, cleavage or no cleavage, are simply choosing better-fitting options.
In a time when movements like #freethenipple are fighting against the inherent sexualization and censorship of breasts on Instagram, Baird-Murphy’s supposedly ’empowering’ article comes off as very misguided. By declaring that “those magnificent mounds pushed together to display sexual empowerment, to seduce, to inspire lust or even just to show off” are about as un-trendy as a pair of boot-cut jeans, she’s perpetuating the same kind of shaming and body policing women face on a daily basis from the fashion industry.
“Rejecting the stereotypes of gender has been brought sharply into focus, with the days of women as eye-candy, their sexuality positively smoldering rather than subtly played out, officially over.” Vogue says, but there’s no real reclamation of “stereotypes of gender” when you ignore the diversity of body types that exist outside of the homogenous fashion world. Not to mention that throughout history women have been viewed as “eye-candy,” sexualized and subjected to gender stereotypes by the male gaze whether they dressed modestly or not.
The magazine says that it will focus on showing off other parts of the body like the back or shoulders. Trading in one body part for another isn’t the same as increasing the diversity of model body types in their magazines or ending Photoshop retouching. Sure you can tell women to ‘cover up,’ but what about the ladies who find confidence in their curves? Not everyone is built with a size 0 boyish frame, not everyone can conceal their breasts even if they tried.
It’s not Vogue’s place to say what’s the right or wrong way to love your body. Body positivity isn’t just another fleeting runway trend. It fights back against years of objectification and criticism perpetuated by magazines, advertisements, and runways. For some women, self-love can be sexual in nature while others find confidence in modesty – either way, both these choices are equally valid.
British Vogue’s Twitter made matters worse by tweeting this poll:
Luckily, the Internet saw through their bullshit body-shaming. Since the article was met with so much backlash, Baird-Murphy has taken to Twitter to defend her piece.
Kathleen Baird-Murphy could’ve just written an article about the rise of bralettes and relaxed, seamless lingerie, but by choosing to objectify breasts rather than tackle other issues within the lingerie industry, she’s turning female body parts into another ‘hot-or-not’ contest. Basic human anatomy should not be treated like a seasonal fad.
“Whatever happened to cleavage?” Kathleen asks. The answer is nothing. It’s still there. Unlike t-shirts or dresses, body parts don’t go out of style.
Photo via British Vogue Instagram
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