The Sexist

Sexist Comments of the Week: Responsible Cleavage Edition

Watch where you're tilting those things

Last week, I wrote about how women with big boobs are perceived as inherently sluttier than those of us with minimal cleavage. In response, large-breasted women everywhere emerged to tell their stories. (I told you I was committed to blogging about boobs today.) Talk about your boobs in 3, 2, 1 . . .

PD is not trying to tantalize/horrify:

You have no idea how relevant this is to me. Basically, anything cut lower than a standard t-shirt is going to reveal my decolletage. I’ve had big breasts since I hit puberty, and thus have been dealing with trying to find clothes that fit, bras that fit, and ignoring all the stares and comments since I was a kid. I’m not trying to tantalize and/or horrify the general public with my tremendous, obscene, 38J milk bags. Nor am I willing to undergo surgery or resign myself to a life of Victorian-era necklines just because I’ve got big breasts and that makes other people uncomfortable.

This is my gift. This is my curse. Spiderman 3 was a terrible movie.

bellacocker is not giving men "ideas":

I used to have a nice, church lady of a boss who would stand over my desk, look down my shirt, and tell me that my clothing and breasts set a bad example for the staff under my supervision and gave men “ideas.” When I asked for a written copy of the dress code, in order to shop more appropriately, she said she didn’t want to limit her staff’s freedom like that and that we could wear anything as long as it was “professional.” Which meant, I could buy anything I wanted, but I wouldn’t know whether it was acceptable work clothing until I wore it in and had heard her opinion about it.

wisiti is wearing the appropriate level of cleavage for this situation:

I can’t wear anything lower than a scoop neck without showing off ample cleavage. Many shirts and/or dresses are not cut to cover my cleavage to the amount that I would prefer, but the only other option are high-necked shirts that make my boobs look even bigger! I hate that I’m constantly pulling up my shirts or worried about the amount of cleavage I’m showing (am I making that person uncomfortable? Is this the appropriate level of cleavage to show in this situation?) when there doesn’t really seem to be a solution to the problem. And, like the first commenter, I spent the majority of my high school years larger than most of my friends, with a (now seemingly small) size 32C, that were the focus of too much attention, from both my male and female friends. I’ve spent most of my life worried about my big boobs, when there has never really been anything I could do about them.

Melanie is wondering when a boy's legs are "slutty":

And then there’s the problem with dress codes. I work for an organisation whose current dress code amounts to boys, you can wear anything except earrings, girls, don’t show your slutty cleavage or slutty legs. I am trying to convince them that it might be a good idea to de-gender the dress code a little lest it be regarded as discriminatory.

Joliska has got a name, you know:

I have had large breasts for years. I guess I first noticed as a senior in high school when people would yell comments at me as we passed in the hallway. I also found out how people classified me: my name didn’t ring a bell, but when my breasts were mentioned, people knew.
for some reason, having bigger breasts (which wasn’t by choice, however) seemed to make people think they had permission to make comments and grab at them when they felt like it.

I don’t usually have a problem with shirts that expose more cleavage than I’m comfortable with, but I do have a problem finding bras that fit me, and I’m constantly having to readjust and try to mold them into the cups. I also have trouble finding shirts that are long enough if not wide enough. It doesn’t seem that clothing designers thought of my body type when they designed their clothes.

Em has learned how to karate-chop:

Big boobs are public domain. Like, not just ogling, I have had strangers effing GRAB at them. I’ve even evolved to have a karate-chop type maneuver to thwart them if I’m out at a club or a bar.

The way I look at it, it doesn’t matter what I wear, so I might as well look cute. Actually, I get the most attention in a fitted t-shirt–no cleavage, but it emphasizes that my boobs are quite large for my waist size and I inevitably get unwanted attention. I’ve definitely had my outfit called “slutty” (usually by women, who are damn judgemental about these things) when a less endowed friend was wearing much less and apparently not deemed slutty. That’s just how it is. Culture is threatened by big boobs, I think because they’re in-your-face-femininity…also because people make such a big deal about boobs in this country. To quote an international student I used to know, “What is the big deal about boobs in this country?”

Cindy disagrees:

I have large breasts and I do not agree that wearing them on display is some kind of god given right. Maybe this is a generational difference.

Photo via freeparking, Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0

  • monkeyrotica


  • Liz

    On the other hand, I'm a very small-chested lady, and my sister, mom and best friend have made jokes about how my shape makes me not a "real woman." It's all in jest, especially from the 14-year-old sis with bigger boobs than me, but all this big boob talk made me think. While women with very large chests are often considered too feminine, women sporting a B cup or less are often considered not feminine enough.

    Is there some magical cup size that society deems acceptable? Or must we file breast size away under "things all women are taught to hate about themselves"?

  • magneticwave

    As an overachieving college student who can't see very well, I usually end up in the front rows of classes--this, combined with cleavage that I sure as hell didn't ask to get so much of, ends up giving the wrong impression to some of my fellow classmates and, I'm sad to say, my professors. I don't own much that is low-cut (and what I do own doesn't ever see the inside of a classroom), but the general perception seems to be that, as with Em, because my breasts are large, others have the right to oogle--or lecture directly to--them.

  • jules

    @ Em: Me tooooooo! Isn't that funny! I've had random people (men and women) go for my boobs. Bizzare-o.

  • Valkyrie607

    One of my first experiences with sexual harassment was in 7th grade, when I was informed by my classmate that by stretching my back by reaching my arms above my head, I was being a slut. And that I shoudn't do this. Boys would make random comments to me along the lines of "Did you know that you have really big breasts?" (I know, brilliant, right?) and even guys in cars passing me on the sidewalk felt that they should tell me that I should "get a bra" (I was already wearing one).

    I like my boobs but they can certainly be a nuisance. And they really shouldn't be anyone's business but mine.

  • MGh

    Would you like to wear my enormous, full coverage, brocade 32F bra with 1.5" wide shoulder straps and four hooks in the back that cost me $80? What about the less compressing, attractive bras made for french teenagers that look great, but offer zero containment, making even walking a sexual act. Come, I have seven or eight of these bras for you to wear.

    Friends who are as big as a D cup often tell me "your boobs look big in that outfit" ORLY? THX.

    While men/boys/granpas can be total pervs about boobs, at least they appreciate all sizes. My fellow women on the other hand,punk or no, have a long way to go towards accepting the complexities of different body types.

    Long live Christina Hendricks.

  • rebekah

    Liz, I think that a "nearly c" cup is appropriate boob size. Anything else is too large or too small

  • nahui

    I don't feel entitled to "display" my breasts, I merely happen to have them, they happen to be beyond a certain size, and I can do little to keep them from public scrutiny.
    High necklines make them look grotesquely big and high, like I'm up to my neck, swimming in tits. Low necklines minimize size, but expose more skin, so people are less likely to comment on my cupsize, but more likely to call me trampy.
    Some people --of either gender-- will grab them or poke them ("They jiggle! Like jell-o! Are they real?"). Others are more generous, and choose to stop at asking questions, making comments and judging my clothing, bodyshape, and overall moral character.
    People are always doing these things because my breasts are always there. Tits don't come with an off switch.

  • Em

    nahui, you made me laugh out loud. I too have the choice between "swimming in tits" and being trampy.

    I love how this is like, the ultimate bonding subject for women. Maybe because like 90% of us have been criticized for our boobs--too big, too small, too high, too low, too whatever.

    It seems the only socially acceptable breast size is between a B and a C, and eternally perky (i.e., probably not real...gravity takes all us natural girls eventually) All bras and clothes are made for this mythological holy grail of boobs. This is why we all have so much boob-angst.

  • Lexi

    I have 40D's... Yes people are always pigling at themand sometimes I do feel slurry when wearing a normal shirt that my flat chested friends could wear at church appropriatly. Am I smutty? Hell no! Big naturals shouldn't be prosecuted because slutty flat chested women got their boobs enlarged to my size!!! I always feel that HEY. this is what God gave me. I love them, I've named them (yes... I have.) and I love to show the heavenly pillory cleavage at appropriate times. People who are offended by my natural body IN clothes should go lock themselves inside because believe me, it's not the end of the world when you see my cleavage... Now if you see a nipple.... Lolz. Also, the only "responsibility" I take is to make sure I actually wear a bra, and making sure I don't fall out of my top around children. If you're an adult, act like one.

  • Sarah

    I don't have boob angst. I have BRA angst because I wear a size 30 - which is, by the way, nigh impossible to find. The internet is my breast friend, if you can handle the horrible pun.

    I am aware that I am not the only person who thinks my tits are bitchin' but I really hate getting asked if they're real. That's one of the most awkward questions ever. So I reply, "Yes, aren't they awesome?" because it seems to make the asker feel awkward, too.

    I haven't been the victim of breast grabbing/poking outside of my circle of friends (well, and one ex-friend) but the OBVIOUS staring is kind of irritating. Either be less obvious about checking out my rack or compliment it! I won't shun you for it.

    I don't go for obvious display, but because of where they are it's difficult to not have them on display with some frequency. Not without sticking to crewneck shirts, and those, like turtlenecks, feel way too constricting even when it's a loose neck.

  • Maggie

    I've also been known solely for my boobs. They aren't even *that* big, just big relative to my size (also I have a well-defined waist).

    I generally can't wear anything all that low cut in any case, because my boobs are too big for the dress, or my bras hang out of the top.

  • Emily

    A note on obnoxious comments:

    I often get compliments on them, sometimes bizarre ones. I say something along the lines of "Thanks, I grew them myself." A lot of people don't know what to do with that and leave you alone.

  • noodlez




  • PD

    So if women can bond over their boobs so easily, how come the negative reactions I get to my breasts are so much more frequently from other ladies?

  • Sarah

    Em says: "It seems the only socially acceptable breast size is between a B and a C and eternally perky"

    I've been reading the breast posts but not commenting because, well, I have perky B-cups. When Em made the above comment, it occurred to me that no one has ever said anything about my B-cup breasts, apart from my female cousins and mom and sister, who tease me good-naturedly when my cleavage looks nice. However, when I was an A-cup, I seem to remember a few unprovoked comments about their smallness. However, there's still unspoken pressure to make B-cups rounder and bigger. It annoys me to no end when I go bra-shopping and see a cute bra that catches my eye, only to discover that it has about two inches of padding. Why? WHY? Ah, and there's also the pressure to cover up nipples, too, which is half the reason I wear a bra in the first place. I have puffy areolas which draw unwanted attention to my chest area when I don't wear a bra. Maybe the lesson is that even a perky-breasted B-cup girl can't get a break sometimes . . .

  • pipi long stockings


    People are so scared of seeing the natural shape of boobs that going out without a bra on is basically the equivalent of stepping out of the house naked.

    It's something that small chested women are supposedly allowed to get away with, but I would feel way too exposed.

  • Dorothy

    Pd wrote:
    "So if women can bond over their boobs so easily, how come the negative reactions I get to my breasts are so much more frequently from other ladies?"

    I've got no idea, but I think that would be the patriarchy at work? I mean, it's not as if only men have this "big breasts=slutty" equation in their heads and women are magically free from all society-prejudices. And then there might be something like envy? Performing for the male gaze and things like that? But really, I don't know.

    I am flat-chested and I have a friend with DD-cups or more. We frequently share horror-stories about finding a swim-suit, a dress (sooo often, they have pre-formed upper halfs) or a shirt that fits, and it's really interesting and funny to hear it from the other perspective.

  • groggette

    slutty flat chested women got their boobs enlarged to my size!!!

    No. Just no. Women are not "slutty" because they chose implants any more than I'm a prude because I got a reduction. Keep your slut shaming to yourself.