North American culture's obsession with bosoms has hit an all-time high of late: If it isn't both the fashion and mainstream media's obsession with so-called 'side boob,' it's a redirection of the leering stare toward men's décolletage. Is the latter a case of tit for tat? And is side boob sexy or smutty?
WHAT IS IT?
Side boob:A lateral exposing of the breast facilitated by dresses and shirts cut sharply under the arms.
Man cleavage:The showing off of overdeveloped pecs via increasingly trendy low-cut necklines for men.
Side boob:Two words:Lindsay Lohan(right). The starlet has been falling out of her clothes for years now, including sideways. Cutaway designs exposing breasts in profile have subsequently been legitimized by designers such as Prada and Reem Acra.
Man cleavage:Ever since Calvin Klein's 1980s underwear ads made the male body a hot commodity, it was only a matter of time before men's tees became as low-cut as women's. You've come a long way, dude?
AS A SOCIAL PHENOMENON, SEXY OR SAD?
Side boob: On the one hand, you could look at side boob as yet another low point for women, whose degradation gets ever more creative as they compete as sex objects with men. On the other, the look tends to flatter smaller-breasted women more than buxom ones, giving the former a rare advantage. "It's the flat-chested woman's cleavage," one fan tells Globe Style.
Man cleavage:Buffed up himbo culture is having a moment (witness any ad featuring David Beckham, the new film Magic Mike and, indeed, male cleavage), threatening to usurp Don Draper, George Clooney and Barack Obama when it comes to male ideals. So much for brains over brawn.
AS A FASHION PHENOMENON, SEXY OR SAD?
Side boob:It depends. A sidelong glimpse of breast can be alluring if it's just that: a glimpse. Any hint of nipple, though, sends the look to Smutville.
Man cleavage:Again, it depends. A hint of chest, hairy or otherwise, can be fine. But any garment that cleaves too wide or anywhere south of the sternum (never mind reveals stomach or navel) is venturing into Jersey Shore territory.
Side boob:Jessica Rabbit: The sexy toon wasn't being provocative; she was just drawn that way.
Man cleavage:The Bee Gees:How deep was their décolletage? Very.
Side boob:Kristen Stewart:The reticent Twilight actress knows just how much to reveal.
Man cleavage: Hugh Jackman: The ultrafit Wolverine star can do no wrong.
HOW TO GET THE LOOK (SHOULD YOU WANT IT)
Side boob:Yves Saint Laurent and Roberto Cavalli will be offering their versions of the silhouette come fall.
Man cleavage:Forget American Apparel's sleazy deep Vs:Calvin Klein's less extreme low-cuts are just plunging enough.