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Breasts in 2010: Keeping abreast of the new conservatism

Keeping abreast of the new conservatism

by Evelyn Tsitas

As 2010 draws to a close, it's hard to keep abreast of the inconsistencies that have taken place on the mammary front this year.

Breasts are back in the news, and this time in the spotlight, women have been asked to cover up; they've been asked to get 'em out, and they've been asked to rethink getting them in – if they're silicone, that is.

First, let it be noted that this has been the year when bigger breasts have made a fashion comeback – thanks to *Mad Men* star Christina Hendricks. Everyone from Lynne Featherstone, the Liberal Democrat and equalities minister, to *Cosmopolitan* editor Louise Court, the *Times* and the *Star – * as well as *Red* and *Harper's Bazaar*, have trumpeted that bosoms are back. (The Observer, Oct 17)

Columnist Liz Jones touted "Now it's official. This autumn/winter heralds a renaissance for big breasts. According to American Vogue, fashion is now all about 'celebrating sexy curves and fuller silhouettes'." (The Mail Online, Aug 24)

Well, what a relief. I was wondering what to do with my own DD Cup if they had gone out of fashion.

On the other hand, well endowed women have been admonished and pilloried for revealing too much décolletage, with the public backlash this time not just focused on breastfeeding women, but on the non-lactating as well.

Pop singer Katy Perry was banned from *Sesame Street* in September for wearing a revealing dress in her duet with Elmo. In a statement, the Sesame Workshop declared; "In light of the feedback we’ve received on the Katy Perry music video, which was released on YouTube only, we have decided we will not air the segment on the television broadcast of *Sesame Street*, which is aimed at preschoolers.” (The New York Times, Sept 23)


Katy Perry in her (frankly not so revealing) green dress that caused her ban from Sesame Street

One parent chimed in with a YouTube comment; "I don't want my five year old lookin at that." Really? Quite frankly, pre-school children are used to seeing a lot of breasts. I hate to be the one to break this to readers, but it's actually how an awful of babies get fed And take it from someone who breastfed two children a total of three years – if you do this near any child under six whose mum relies on the bottle, they are not shocked, they are intrigued. Although, I have to say, a little disappointed you can't dispense chocolate milk on call from your nipples.

Indeed, society has lost none of its capacity to be alarmed, intrigued, shocked – and dare I say titillated by women's breasts. 2010 started out with the Daily Mail reporting on a survey that revealed that nearly half of British men confessed that they look at a woman’s breasts before they look at her face. Astounding. It's news as startling as anything Wikileaks has revealed.

Disney Studios this year banned fake boobs when casting extras in the new *Pirates of the Caribbean* movie, issuing a deflating edict that those lining up for an audition must sport the real thing. It's part of a return to 'authenticity' according to a report by The Mail Online (March 27). Which also revealed the trend was prompting women to opt for smaller implants, perhaps because 'in many surveys, research has shown that the larger the breasts, the more stupid a woman is considered to be.'

Does this mean that no one will take my doctoral research into the posthuman character in science fiction seriously because of my amazing décolletage?

Maybe – if Melbourne radio host Neil Mitchell is an indication of how men view women in a serious position, who also show off some serious cleavage. He recently chastised Channel 7 newsreader Sarah Cumming for wearing a low-cut top to deliver a news bulletin. As reported in the Herald Sun, readers howled their objections on the top rating radio station's website; "she has great puppies, so why hide them in a kennel?"(Dec 11).

It's weird that this anti-breast campaign cover-up comes at exactly the same time as fashion designers like Marc Jacobs at Louis Vuitton and Miuccia Prada championed the breast in their recent fashion collections. Prada especially is known for glutting the catwalks with concave-chested, anorexic waifs. Now, the boob is in Vogue, just when women are being told to "put 'em away." Go figure.

*************

Evelyn Tsitas is the co-author of the parenting book Handle With Care. She is a PhD student at RMIT University. Email: evelyntsitas@gmail.com*

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