opinions about life, work, and spirituality


July 5th, 2006

Cleavage is a wonderful fashion statement. It has a long history of use, as can be seen in any period piece from Jane Austen’s era. It reflects the bounty of a woman’s body, its roundness, lushness and its ability for productivity. Unlike recent fads in which women are encouraged to starve themselves into dainty uselessness, cleavage sends a message of lusty healthiness.

I have seen the dark side of cleavage though! When I was in grade nine, I attended a very small private school. We wore uniforms, a fact I hated. For us girls, we were to wear very scratchy burgundy and mustard yellow kilts, navy knee socks or nylons, a pressed and tucked-in white button up shirt and a sandpaper-like textured cardigan or V-neck sweater. Everyday, our teachers would examine the length of our skirts, for they were to be exactly mid-knee length. We were often asked to get down on our knees. If the bottom of our kilt did not brush the floor, our parents were promptly phoned to purchase us a new “modest” skirt.

However, I doubt that this school truly did care about modesty. I say this because our principal was notoriously overflowing with cleavage. Her power suits, which appeared to be a few sizes too small for her body, pushed her breasts to overflowing. While the teachers frittered about the tops of our teenaged knees showing, Mrs. M hurried from office to class with breasts filling to practically her neck. The issue at stake was not modesty but power. Mrs. M’s breasts, in full view of the student body, were her way of telling us that she was the adult in authority; that she was above conforming to rules for mere children. Mrs. M also wore mini-skirts and stilletos, yet more evidence of her authority over legalities for the common kids. I find that private schools are full of this kind of power play, and, honestly, it disgusts me.

I still resent Mrs. M’s tight skirts, stilted heels and overflowing bosom. I was a teenager, and there was nothing more I wanted than to be free of senseless rules. Having worked with teenagers, I always try to explain why I enforce rules or why we place guidelines on their behaviour. I never tell them just to accept it because that’s the way it is. Teenagers are at an age when they can think abstractly and reason – they deserve more than a curt “Because I say so.” The glib response as an adolescent that wearing our skirts to our knees was for modesty’s sake, was an untruth, as could be clearly seen with open eyes to our principal. Mrs. M’s bounteous cleavage sent a clear message to us rebellious teens: “Because I said so.”

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