Saturday, March 31, 2012

National Cleavage Day

I often roll my eyes at some of the "national" holidays we've come up with. Some are fun, some are cute, some are obnoxious and some are plain wrong. I'm all about National Cupcake Day, National Mental Health Awareness Week, National Hot Tea Month. But some take the cupcake and not in a good way. Give me back my cupcake.

National Cleavage Day is here. Yipes. The idea of this drives me bonkers. How did this idea come about?

According to Feministe, it "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 realize 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.'”

Sounds like a bunch of hooey to me. Albeit, these are just samples of responses to this day, but I imagine that they are shared by many who support it. The idea that showing off cleavage is some how liberating or makes a woman a woman, is skewed logic.

I have no problem with a man or woman finding a woman's cleavage attractive. My issue is that we are continually bombarded with the media's message that a woman's body exists for the heterosexual man's gaze. Some women buy into it and show us just how much they buy into it by celebrating holidays like NCD. If you think about it you'll notice that NCD is every day. Women reveal their cleavage on the cover of pornographic magazines or mainstream magazines. On billboards, TV, and film. Cleavage appears in high end fashion catalogs and on the red carpet at the Academy Awards. Cleavage is everywhere and I'm uncertain as why a holiday highlights its existence as if it were rare and in need of further celebration.

My problem with this day is that not only are women told that their bodies are meant to please other people, but some believe it to the point where they use their bodies to manipulate others. In the end they call it power. 

Those who take part in this day are most likely doing so because they want to show off their bodies. I've observed footage of women corralled in the street celebrating this day and all I really see is a bunch of women happy to put themselves on display. If this is how women express their self worth, we have a problem. Take a look at your nearest Cosmo or Vanity Fair and you'll see what I mean. We have a problem.

Would this day be as enjoyable for the participants if there were no audience? NCD is more so, for the voyeurs than it is for the participants. And what makes it all worth it for the participants is that they are being applauded for their appearance. Audience and participant feed into each other.

While this can be said about a lot of things; (i.e. concerts, parades, plays) the signifying factor is that this day speaks to the pillaging monster that is patriarchy.

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