Cleavage: does the acceptable amount change depending on a woman's bust size?

Contributor: surreptitious surreptitious
I am just beside myself right now, so I'm going to keep this initial post as brief as possible to avoid it turning into a rant.

As a busty person, I get a lot of comments about my chest from friends and strangers alike. Unless they're specifically negative, they generally don't bother me in the slightest. One thing that I do not understand, though, is the mentality that women with smaller breasts are allowed to show off more of them.

If I'm at a party or out with friends or in any sort of casual situation, I expect to be allowed to show as much cleavage as any other woman would without falling under scrutiny. If a person considers, say, 30% breast exposure to be acceptable, then stick with that. I think that measuring those sorts of things by inches is just completely biased. If I ever walked up to a small-chested woman at a party and said "wow, your breasts look really tiny in that" or "you know, you could do with showing a bit more cleavage... that's not a great look for you," I don't think that anyone would find that acceptable.

If I'm at work, I expect that if I am not permitted to show cleavage, then no one else should be permitted to either. I have been forced in the past to wear uniforms that hang down my arms and practically billow at the waist because I was working for the government and was not legally allowed to have things tailored. I was willing to tolerate that until I was told that despite written regulations saying that two buttons were allowed to be undone at the top of the shirt, I was not allowed to so because you could see cleavage (which is ridiculous considering the fact that all of my bras separate, and in a loose shirt there is no cleavage to be seen, but hey - this is the same workplace that made me choose a size 42 crew-neck t-shirt because the 34 that I'd chosen was "too revealing," so I don't know what I expected). One of the other girls, however, could frequently be seen revealing the lace edges of her bra if she leaned forward (which we often had to do when speaking with customers) or creating a noticeable space between buttons because of the pull across her bust, however nothing was said to her about any of this. And I'm going to stop talking now, because despite my original intent, this has gotten quite long.

TL;DR, do you find that a small amount of cleavage on a large-busted woman is less "appropriate" than an equal or larger amount on a smaller-breasted woman (provided that any cleavage is appropriate in the situation)? I know that it's very clear what MY opinions are, but if yours differ, I'm obviously not going to bite your head off. How do you think that this relates to other situations, such as a tall woman showing off a bit more leg or someone with a long torso having their midriff exposed when out? Have you experienced any of this sort of treatment or commentary?
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Contributor: Woman China Woman China
I live in China. When I first got here oh way back in 2002, it was forbidden for a woman to show her knees and shoulders (midrif clothing was never heard of here). ANd her clothes had to be almost up to her neck. I wore scoop neck and v-neck tops, and yes. From time to time cleavage could be seen.

I was constantly told to button up, but simply stated, that my job is to teach about western way or life and culture/customs.

When I wore store bought capris, because of my height they'd come up over my knees and the looks I received were hilarious.

Now, I don't really give a damn. I keep my shoulders and knees covered while in the city as I feel it is respectful. But my cleavage on the other hand, I don't think it is inappropriate the amount I display. Smaller cities are becoming more westernised, and I feel that if girls are permitted to wear such short shorts that the Daisy character from Dukes of Hazards would not even wear them... shut up about my cleavage.

I also feel that around the world, there is hardly enough clothes for tall women. And it is pathetic that if I want to be presentable in many western establishments where there is a dress code, I have to buy men's clothes and go shapeless. For if I buy the "tall" women's clothing, my middle is always showing as is my wrists and cleavage for I am always tugging at the top to cover my belly.

When I buy a pair of walking shorts, I show off a whole lotta leg and get annoyed by the comments. When I try to buy a skirt, it becomes one of those skirts that hardly covers my butt. Knee high dresses the same thing. And don't get me started on those little black cocktail dresses. Can I say... really nice top?

I cannot change the fact that I am tall, and it really does suck that 99% of the time I have to go to a tailors and get my clothes made because I want to appear presentable.

I find it sad that most people cannot seem to wrap their heads around the fact that it is dang near impossible for me to buy clothes from a store, and when I do? I get negative comments for the amount of skin I show.
Contributor: Chilipepper Chilipepper
I had the most boob back in high school, and I subversively took advantage of it by acting completely unaware of how much cleavage I was showing (one male teacher did make it obvious he was speaking to my breasts). About half the time, I was told to cover it up or wear a cami underneath - usually by older female teachers. I've become more subdued as I've gotten older, but I still have some good cleavage-making tops.

I haven't noticed anyone going out of their way to disapprove of my cleavage exposure, but I did notice the double-standard when applied to sizes. Smaller women are allowed to wear whatever the hell they want - larger women are asked (when the objector is being polite) "Isn't that too revealing for you?" Skin is fine if you're slender, but it's disgusting if you're over a size 10. :-/
Contributor: Sera26 Sera26
Originally posted by Chilipepper
I had the most boob back in high school, and I subversively took advantage of it by acting completely unaware of how much cleavage I was showing (one male teacher did make it obvious he was speaking to my breasts). About half the time, I was told to ...
I totally agree with Chillipepper about size.

A specific event comes to my mind. My best friend in junior high was plus size. She found some awesome jeans with lace insets running up the outside of the legs. The top of the inset was about short length. It's not like she was exposed. They sent her home from school for wearing something revealing. However thin girls that I also had classes with wore very short skirts, often even in the dead of winter.

Personally I think that everyone should just wear what they want (unless it's unprofessional but those standards should apply to everyone, not just the small chested or thin).
Contributor: KinkyKatieJames KinkyKatieJames
I think it should be the same as everyone, but I can relate to your story since not everyone feels the same was as I do.

I like to wear lower cut shirts, regardless of the fact that I am a D cup. I use discretion depending on where I'm going of course and don't wear anything so low cut that I'm just handing out.

Even if I am dressed professionally, I will get nasty looks from other women because of my chest size. Yet, my smaller chested friends could have pretty much the top half of their boobs spilling out of their shirts and nobody has a problem with it.

My all time favorite body-related story is from about a year ago (favorite because of how ridiculous it is). I was out to dinner with my boyfriend and was wearing a fitted dress with a sweetheart neckline. Some woman comes up to me and says (word for word), "It's sluts like you that make my man want to cheat! For our entire dinner, he has been staring at your chest. Then you stood up and he saw your entire body and basically started drooling. Just so you know, I am going to report you to the manager of this restaurant and get you removed for your indecency." Well, the manager came over on his own since he heard the yelling. He started laughing, apologized for the woman's behavior, made her leave, and said my boyfriend and I could have dessert on the house.

As silly as it sounds, I felt vindicated. I have every right to dress the way I want. I do have curves and fitted clothing makes me feel sexy. I don't do it for attention; it makes me feel comfortable.
Contributor: surreptitious surreptitious
Originally posted by KinkyKatieJames
I think it should be the same as everyone, but I can relate to your story since not everyone feels the same was as I do.

I like to wear lower cut shirts, regardless of the fact that I am a D cup. I use discretion depending on where I'm ...
I am loving everything that I've read so far and have been mostly content to just let the conversation go where it will.You guys are giving me fantastic responses without having me hover over you, and though I didn't expect anything less, it makes me really happy. On top of that, I'm super glad to hear that I'm not being irrational in expecting people with different body types to be treated the same no matter their shape or size.

I do want to comment on this for a few reasons, though.

a) You specifically said "from other women." I find that women are the WORST when it comes to my chest, whether it's making negative comments or positive ones. I get girls asking to give me a feel, poking me in the chest or doing essentially whatever the hell they want when I'm out. I hate the "oh, well, I'm female, so it's okay" mentality.

b) I actually get some of my most disgusted looks if I'm in a turtleneck or other tight, high-necked form-fitting top. High necks make my chest look absolutely MASSIVE, and I tend to avoid them frequently unless I want to be gawked at like a circus freak. On top of that, I generally feel constricted in things with collars, so as you said - I dress how I am comfortable. If that means wearing a tank top, then I'll wear a tank top. I won't pick out something explicitly revealing unless I'm going clubbing or something and want to feel like a skankity-skank-hoebag, but I'm not going to inconvenience myself just so that other people won't be forced to look at me. If they don't like the way that I look and can't bear to tolerate it, then they can leave.

c) Thank goodness the manager booted her out! That is just about the happiest ending to that story I could have imagined. "make my man want to cheat." Yeah, really.
Contributor: MrWill MrWill
I like 'ze cleavage and believe it should be allowed fairly for all!

Serious answer: If you can't show your cleavage (for whatever management imposed reason) then the less breasty women should have to cover up as well.
Contributor: The Vixen The Vixen
I do feel it's a lot more socially acceptable for smaller chested women to show more cleavage than busty gals.
You see pictures of thin celebs and models wearing deep v-cuts that show most of their torso, and nobody seems to notice or complain about it. But if a busty woman does the same, people often gawk and say she looks like a porn star or something.(and they mean it as a negative)

I used to wear a lot of cleavage when I was a teen and had a C or D cup, but now that I've grown into a DDD, I no longer feel like it's appropriate to show much in the way of cleavage. I don't have a problem with doing it, but I feel like it bothers other people (mostly women) and I don't like the tension is causes.
Contributor: laflauta laflauta
Yes, it does change, though sometimes I wish it didn't. Clothing can look very different on different body types. Last year I bought a dress that looks sexy on me because I have a booty and relatively large boobs. My friend, who isn't very curvy at all, borrowed it and was disappointed that it looked plain on her.

The thing that's unfortunate about large breasts is that society thinks you're indecent no matter what. Most of my non-work shirts show at least a little cleavage just because it naturally happens. The only way to avoid it is to wear a shirt with a high neckline, which just makes the girls look bigger. There is just no winning with some people.