The Great Cleavage Conundrum: should men look if it's on display? (2024)

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Cleavage … The very word (let alone the image) goes right to the jugular, sending shivers straight to the minds and loins of men the world over, conjuring up all sorts of conflicting thoughts and scintillating fantasies.

Where should I look? Should I ask her out? Is she doing this on purpose? Am I just a hot-blooded male who can't control his urges? Help!!

The Great Cleavage Conundrum: should men look if it's on display? (1)

Many women have cottoned on to the innate power of the simple act of showing a bit of chest flesh. And, while the fairer sex aren't exactly sure what chemical reactions are sparked in the minds of blokes at the mere sight of a little décolletage, nevertheless over time they've learnt one vital life lesson: a little cleavage goes a long way.

A bit of bosom on show does something more powerful and more intoxicating to a bloke than any conversation, expensive gift or home-cooked meal.

And when it comes to the workplace, despite the fight for equal pay and equal rights, some women (many women) know that a good push-up bra is a better investment than any PhD. Besides, it sure as hell is something no man can ever attempt to compete with, no matter how many golf games or strip-club outings they organise for prospective clients. Women simply whip on a low-cut dress, some spindly stilettos and, voila! They're ahead of the game by a long shot.

But, of course, a little cleavage doesn't come without a load of consequence.

In the much-discussed article in this newspaper by Bettina Arndt titled "Busted: the politics of cleavage and a glance" – she debates the great cleavage paradox: should men really look if it is on display? Are women encouraging men to look at their chests if they are showing a little flesh, or are the blokes supposed to go against their biological urges and stare at their loafers instead?

In response to the article published last week, comments from readers, colleagues and my male friends came in fast and furiously.

An older male work colleague rang to tell me about the article and claimed Arndt was spot on the money:


"Women will wear cleavage to attract looks from men in a certain age bracket. If the woman is in her 20s, she only wants other men in their 20s and 30s looking at them. Anyone above that age, overweight or not within their 'standards' staring at their chest comes across as creepy, weird and unwanted."

One man in his 30s says a woman bearing cleavage is the ultimate cue for him to hit on to her.

"When you see a woman who has loads of cleavage and is a complete bombshell, the chase sets in. You just want to have her. But it doesn't mean you want a relationship with her. Not at all. It just means you're going to definitely ask her out and then see if you can have some fun together."

Herald reader Dom Archie concurs and writes this: "Just met a girl in the bank yesterday in home loans. Wore a low cut revealing top and yes I asked her out. She gets asked out all the time, has a partner but wears clothing that is going to get any man's attention."

Writes jayb1: "Breasts are like jewellery, besides their natural function, they are there to attract attention & a possible mate. Enhanced breasts even more so. 
So girls, 'reap what you sow', enjoy the attention. Your anger says more about you than the person whose eyes were attracted by your charms."

Which is exactly why Tc reckons too many single women are attracting the wrong types of men:

"As a male I often wonder how many 'Mr Rights' are out there, and do women really know what most men are looking for in a woman. If they think that their breasts will pull Mr Right - then perhaps, just perhaps, they will get the wrong Mr Right. I have been in meetings with women exposing large areas of their breasts, and have explained the situation I find myself in and where would they like me to look - at the floor or the ceiling. Women know exactly what they are doing when they dress this way."

Many of the women I polled for this story say they are extremely self-conscious when it comes to cleavage of their own. Flat-chested women, (especially in a sun-drenched country like ours), know all too well about the pains of having to go to the beach and compete with the ample-breasted women flouncing their double Ds as the men gawk, ogle and stare, ignoring the fact that the flat-chested femmes even exist.

"It's the absolute worst being flat," a friend said to me before she decided to opt for breast augmentation surgery. "You feel as though everyone is staring at your chest for all the wrong reasons. No men call you sexy, and you definitely don't get any wolf whistles. It brings down your entire self-esteem."

That's why, says Sheeva Tavakoli, the wife of well-known Sydney plastic surgeon Kourosh Tavakoli, the numbers of breast augmentations in Australia have grown astronomically in the past five years.

"I think most women would like to have more cleavage," she told me over the phone. "But it's not the only reason women opt for the operation. It's a self-improvement thing. We see a lot of patients who are mums and have just breast-fed and therefore have lost a lot of volume and tissue. They get the operation done to feel like a woman again."

I wondered if the increase had anything to do with pressure from husbands or boyfriends. But Tavakoli was quick to pooh-pooh that theory.

"No. To be honest, I don't see a lot of men encouraging their girlfriends to have it done. In fact, I hardly see any men saying they want their partner to have it done. It's mostly the woman's own decision. But 95 per cent of the partners are supportive in their girlfriend or wife's decision to undergo the procedure. But, no, I definitely don't see pressure from a male to have it done."

Would she have the procedure herself?

"Not yet, because I am currently pregnant," she replied. "I am waiting to have all my children before I have it done. But my situation is the same – breast-feeding means you lose a lot of volume and tissue, and, yes, I want to have more volume."

Let's get back to the politics of cleavage.

Whether fake or real, it undeniably empowers a woman, gives her a great sense of self-esteem, a colossal confidence boost and often gets her ahead of the men she's long been trying to compete with.

But if a woman does indeed decide to put her Betty Boops on show, are the men at fault for looking? Can only men of a certain age be allowed to take a peep? And is it really all that powerful that it deserves two entire columns on the subject?

Perhaps Herald reader Tc summed it up best when he wrote this in response to Arndt: "Perhaps men should go back to wearing codpieces to draw attention to themselves, and see how women deal with that, and where would they look."

Maybe, just maybe, he actually has a point ...

What do you think?

More ASK SAM columns here, and info on my latest book The Catch is here!



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The Great Cleavage Conundrum: should men look if it's on display? (2024)


Do guys look at cleavage? ›

A study concluded that men tend to look at cleavage

I read an article in which the author describes her ordeal: She was wearing a V-line dress and traveling in public transport. A man couldn't help staring at her cleavage; the stare made her uncomfortable, and she moved away.

Is it okay to look at a woman's cleavage? ›

Guys shouldn't be given carte blanche to stare, even when the lady has her cleavage out invitingly. Women might want to lighten up a bit and save themselves unnecessary headaches. Cleavage staring will never go away -- it's in a man's DNA.

Is it OK to show a lot of cleavage? ›

There are no rules for how much décolletage is appropriate to reveal in a low neckline. Cleavage exposure is a personal choice. Expose what you are comfortable and confident exposing, and get on with your day.

What should I wear to show cleavage? ›

V-neck sweaters, t-shirts, and tank tops. Button-up blouses. Criss cross tops. Dresses with plunging necklines.

Is it healthy for a man to look at breast? ›

Weatherby found that those men who stared at voluptuous breasts of women for at least a minimum of ten minutes per day had lower blood pressures, slower pulse rates (indicating greater fitness) and less heart disease than the control group who were not allowed to engage in this ogling.

Are men biologically attracted to breasts? ›

Men are attracted to breasts due to a combination of biological and cultural factors. Biologically, breasts are a secondary sexual characteristic that signal fertility and reproductive potential, which can be attractive to men seeking a mate.

Why are boys attracted to cleavage? ›

The visible display of cleavage can provide erotic pleasure for those who are sexually attracted to women, though this does not occur in all cultures. Explanations for this effect have included evolutionary psychology, a patriarchal revolution, and dissociation from breastfeeding.

Is it rude to stare at breasts? ›

Breasts feed babies and they help give the female body that hourglass shape, so it's understandable that people are interested. But it's not polite to stare at someone's breasts — it's rude and it can make a girl feel very uncomfortable.

Is it unprofessional to show cleavage? ›

Simply stated - cleavage should never make an appearance in the office unless it is part of your job description. You want to stand out for your job success and not your triple 'Ds'. Basically the general rule of thumb in the corporate world is that a woman's shirt or dress should land two inches above their cleavage.

How many inches of cleavage is too much? ›

The breasts should have a natural shape and they should not be touching.” As a general rule, the amount of cleavage that should be visible is 1 or 2 inches – 3 inches at the most. Some cleavage catastrophes happen because of breast enhancement surgery that was done before some of the newest technology was available.

What is the average cleavage size? ›

Did you know that the average breast size in America is a 34DD? According to Medical Daily, this is a big leap from the 34B it was twenty years ago. Believe it or not, squeezing your double D's into C cups doesn't promote good breast health.

Is it OK to show cleavage at work party? ›

A good rule of thumb is to avoid sheer fabrics and anything that shows cleavage. Sleeveless tops are okay, but should be paired with a longer skirt or pants. Similarly, a shorter hemline should be paired with more coverage up top in the form of long sleeves, a cardigan or a blazer.

How to praise cleavage? ›

Try complimenting things like the shape of her breasts, their symmetry, or the color of her nipples. If you're not sure how a particular woman feels about her breasts, it's always best to err on the side of caution and avoid making any comments at all.

How to emphasize cleavage? ›

If you want to accentuate your cleavage, you can create the illusion of more weight by wearing tops with ruffles, pockets, or anything that's heavier because of fabric. A V-neck neckline with a little tank top or bralette beneath also adds the illusion of having a bigger bust.

What do guys think when they look at your chest? ›

Mostly, it's funny, because of all the factors that the men aren't thinking of, and how many of the attraction qualities they are attributing to breast size are actually about placement/formation (wonderbras, yay!), cleavage/presentation, or even fashion (what they're contained in, the bra/bikini top/etc or the little ...

Is showing cleavage fine? ›

Basically the general rule of thumb in the corporate world is that a woman's shirt or dress should land two inches above their cleavage. So if we follow that simple rule ... your breasts or cleavage line should never be exposed.

What do guys think when they stare at a girl? ›

Men might stare at women while subconsciously evaluating their potential compatibility as a partner. This goes beyond mere physical attraction and encompasses factors like perceived personality, mannerisms, and behavior.


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