Guardian Columnist Would Really Like It If Other Women Could Stop Having Boobs, Please
As a society, we have come a really, really long way in a very short number of years in terms of body acceptance. While things are hardly perfect now, there was a time, when I worked in retail and the mannequins were so thin we frequently had to clothespin them in the back to get them to stay up. Now when I go out, I see mannequins of all shapes and sizes. I see people of all shapes and sizes in commercials now, and even in a lot of television shows. And really, there was a very long time there were you did not see any woman on TV who was bigger than a size 0 unless it was a plot point of some kind. It feels good. It feels a lot safer. That's a strange word to use, but there was a time when it just felt very precarious to be a woman — because even if you didn't care about that shit, it was hard to not at least be aware of the ways in which you were failing.
But just when you think it's safe
to go back in the water be a human woman ... you wake up one morning to an unbelievably stupid article in The Guardian, from yesterday and not several years ago, about how "cleavage" is out and "killer abs" are in.
According the The Guardian's fashion editor Jess Cartner-Morley it is time to toss out our boobs and head to the store and exchange them for some "killer abs." Cher, she reminds us, can plank for five minutes.
Via The Guardian:
We are living in the age of abdominals. A flat tummy doesn't cut it, and nothing less than obliques carved into visible ridges will impress. When Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck went Instagram Official this summer, the frankly magnificent topography of Lopez's lower ribcage area was the killer detail. Cristiano Ronaldo can do 142 sit ups in 45 seconds; Cher, who is 75, can plank for five minutes. Do try to keep up, because the bare midriff is no longer just for the beach. This year, it was awards' season hottest look. Valentino, the chic Italian fashion house with form in creating red-carpet gowns that nail the fashion zeitgeist, dressed both Carey Mulligan and Zendaya in floor-sweeping Oscar dresses that were essentially long skirts with very fancy bikini tops. At the Emmys, Michaela Coel showed an elegant sliver of abs through her neon dress by Christopher John Rogers. Zendaya's abs wore sunshine-yellow chiffon, Mulligan's glittering copper, like smelted coins.
I mean, good for Cher? I guess?
The thing is, there is a very big difference between cleavage and abs, and that is that while not everyone can have perfectly sculpted abs, there are options for achieving that beyond invasive surgery. Also these are two entirely different parts of the body that do not preclude one another's existence. You could say that "Oh, she's talking about cleavage, not breasts" — but for some of us, the only cleavage-free option is a turtleneck. It's a fact of life, not a fashion statement one way or another.
Making things even more obnoxious, Cartner-Morley then suggests that "woke" killed cleavage. When was that, exactly? Because personally I don't think it is particularly "woke" to tell women what body parts they're allowed to have.
With perfect timing, fitness gave us abs just as woke was killing cleavage. Popular culture used to serve sexiness straight up, female bodies pressed into meaty slabs to suit red-blooded patriarchal tastes. It would be nice to be able to say that society has evolved into inclusivity and the placing of equal value on each and every human body, but, sadly, that would be total nonsense. More accurate to say that fashion now approaches the subject of sex gingerly, like someone trying to broach a controversial subject without getting their head bitten off. Abs, which are wholesome and healthy but also quite hot-looking, are a kind of visual euphemism for erotica.
So it would be nice if society evolved into inclusivity, but since it hasn't, she'd really like it if other women could just stop having breasts please. Have some nice, wholesome abs instead of your whore boobs, says the extremely "woke" fashion lady.
It would be one thing if this were actually a trend piece, but that does not appear to be the case. Cartner-Morley has been announcing that cleavage is out of style every few years for quite some time now. Earlier this year she started out an article on square necklines with the phrase Goodbye, cleavage. Hello, décolleté. In 2016 she wrote an article titled The end of the cleavage: breasts piled together like cream buns do not make a subtle statement. In 2018? How the push-up bra fell flat: the rise of quiet cleavage. Of course, in 2010 she was mad about "male cleavage," so at least she keeps it somewhat balanced.
Someone needs to tell her, and the entire fashion industry, frankly, that boobs (or any other human body parts) do not succumb to peer pressure. It's not like I hear "Oh, we have that size but only online" and they retract in shame and suddenly I'm a C cup. She can write 12,000 essays about how extremely tacky this particular secondary sex characteristic that people have absolutely no control over is, and that will not put a stop to their existence.
Why she is on this particular vendetta? Honestly, I could not tell you. But what I would like Ms. Cartner-Morley to know is that the fashion industry has spent the last several decades declaring larger breasts (that aren't fake) unfashionable, and the several decades before that, with the exception of Twiggy, mostly declaring smaller breasts unfashionable. And we go back and forth. Hell, in the 1920s breasts were so unfashionable that women were basically wearing, for all intents and purposes, boob girdles.
The thing is, we really have come a long way with inclusivity, which is why Cartner-Morley's article is so jarring in the first place. Ten years ago, this would have barely been noticeable. But I'm honestly not used to being told I need to have a thigh gap anymore or being told I need to have any particular body type at all, at least not in mainstream publications. I actually used to cover this kind of bullshit all of the time and, frankly, I'm a little out of practice. For that I am grateful.
Your body is your body. Human bodies and body parts cannot be trendy and they cannot go out of style, they cannot be wholesome or unwholesome. They just are. The more we come to understand that, the happier we will all be.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse