Friday, June 20, 2014

More sexual display and polite fictions

It was a hot weekend with all sorts of festivals and thousands of tourists in town. And everywhere I looked tonight I saw the cultural influence of Kate Upton. Not every woman was doing it for the simple reason that not every woman is willing and not every woman can. Doing what you ask? Jiggling!

Bouncing racks are in in a big way. I don't mention this to be crude. What I want you to do is consider the social facts behind this. First you get a super model whose gimmick is her bouncing breasts. Upton is attractive and all but she wouldn't stand out in super model circles without a gimmick. At some point she noticed that people writing about her were talking about how her breasts moved more than the other models and she consciously decided to play this up. It became her gimmick.

Now, you get a particular kind of motion with the push up bras that dominated the market for the last two decades. Breasts tend to bounce up and then come down with a crash kind of like jello hitting a hard bowl. You even get a sort of ripple along the top surface of the breasts if the woman really pounds her heels down onto the pavement. To play up her advantage, Upton has to ditch the standard hard push-up up in favour of a softer cup that is going to let her breasts move more naturally.

Next, millions of young women have to start coveting the look. Now, there are lots of magazines and web sites that run articles about how to get certain looks but you don't see them providing advice about how to make the most of bouncing breasts. No, the women have to figure this out for themselves. Meanwhile, lingerie companies have to get product into stores that will allow more motion but they probably can't advertise the effect directly.

As was the case in the 1980s, when bras had a thinner weave in the fabric around the nipple area such they would show through, the connection has been made. No one advertises it, besides Kate Upton, and no one admits that women are making adjustments to help their breasts move more freely so men will look at them, but it has travelled through the culture like some sort of secret signal and has done so with an effectiveness that advertising executives can only dream of. I walked up Bank street tonight and the new look was very much in evidence. The polite fiction is maintained whereby we pretend that the women doing this aren't intentional when they have, in fact, planned every detail.

It's fascinating. Even now, in an era that claims to have no sexual inhibition, all of this goes on underground with no one admitting that it's going on. Even now, we can't be honest with ourselves about how actively, and consciously, women seek sexual attention. 

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