The great cleavage debate: to show or not to show?

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 (iStock/LeoPatrizi)
(iStock/LeoPatrizi)

Adele has breasts. It’s true, she does. Ahead of her impending “Easy On Me” single release this Friday and her album release later in November, social media has been discussing everything they can about the 33-year-old singer – including, yes, her boobs.

Reacting to Adele’s recent British Vogue cover, Twitter users made comments like: “Ma’am Adele come through with your boobs!”

And when one user said cleavages were “out”, another commented, “Looks like SOMEONE didn’t see Adele’s Vogue cover. Boobs for winter, and for always.”

After Adele’s Vogue cover release, cleavages have quickly been labelled as a “trend”. But being told a cleavage is in or out of fashion feels a tad tiresome, to say the least. How can a woman’s body part be stylish? Why are we likening cleavages to that of low-rise jeans, wired headphones or anything else seen as “trendy”?

Breasts as an accessory is no new thing – just look at the “underboob” trend championed over the past year or the “sideboob” trend the year before. Women are either being told to bare it all (see Lizzo’s instantly iconic naked dress and the return of Y2K dressing) or to cover up. Which ultimately poses the question: do we get our tits out or not?

Ultimately, of course, nobody else but the breast-owning woman can make this decision. If we want to flash some flesh, we will happily do so. If we want to use our boobs to accentuate our outfits, we’ll be the first in line. But if we want to cover up with a turtleneck, throw on a baggy shirt, wear a soft lined bra (or even no bra at all – thank you, lockdown) we will do that too. It’s our bodies and we will do what we want to, thanks very much.

As well as being used as an accessory, breasts have been a stalwart focal point on runways and red carpets for decades (who can forget Rose McGowan’s barely-there 1998 VMAs dress or that deep V-neck dress Jennifer Lopez wore to the Grammys in 2000?). The issue with boobs and cleavages being en vogue is that catwalk trends are often geared towards women with smaller busts, which makes it difficult for women with larger bosoms to even follow fashion fads in the first place as, more often than not, this fashion simply isn’t made for them. The average bra size in the UK currently sits at 36DD, so for many of us, wearing a crop top sans bra is as impractical as it is uncomfortable.

The funny thing about boobs, as sexualised as they can be, is that for most women they are something that’s just, well, there. They are a part of our body that we met at puberty and grew accustomed to over time. For some of us, they are a source of insecurity. For others, they are their favourite feature. Some women wish they were bigger; others wish theirs were smaller. Other times they make us sick and we have to get rid of them completely. But for the most part, they are just something we live with and, unless we take drastic measures, something we can’t change.

It’s ironic that Adele has sparked a cleavage trend when the interview behind the Vogue cover talks about her not wanting to document her body on Instagram. Speaking of her recent weight loss, she told British Vogue: “I did it for myself and not anyone else. So why would I ever share it? I don’t find it fascinating. It’s my body.”

What a woman chooses to do with her boobs (and body) is ultimately her choice, not a fashion trend, so just let us live our best lives already – tits in or out.

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