Friday 21 October 2016

The Indecency In Breast Exposure

It is no longer a debatable topic of discussion that indecent dressing is seriously competing with corruption in our country. Alarmingly disturbing, the act continue to eat deep into us that even those that use to dress responsibly before, instead of keeping it up, now tend to fall prey to the quandary this days. It has gone beyond commonsense and reason

A popular saying “dress the way you want to be addressed” clarifies the fact that the way you dress verbalizes a lot about you. I know that you will all believe me if I say that this saying in recent times this saying has been thrown overboard by many of us.
Dress the way you want to be addressed”, is a popular slogan used to describe the widely held belief that the way you dress tells a lot about who you are.
This insinuation may not be totally correct, but it is difficult to explain what is societal y  decent in exposing one’s body parts that are supposed to be covered by clothes.
So much have been said about indecent dressing in Nigeria, particularly as it concerns girls in tertiary institutions and those who seek to be modern. They range from exposure of such parts of the body including the upper laps, buttocks, stomach and breasts.
Image result for indecent exposure of breast in nigeria girls
The focus of this piece will however, be on exposure of breasts, popularly called cleavage.
The word “Cleavage” as commonly used in Nigeria, describes an exposed top side of the breasts of a woman. In the days of yore, especially before 1831, the term, “decolletage was commonly used to describe today’s cleavage.

Decolletage is a French word derived from the word “Decolleter” meaning to reveal the neck or more literally without a collar. The term was first used in English Literature.
In its strict usuage then, Decolletage is the neckline extending about two hand breast from the base of the neck, front and back.

Ordinarily, decolletage describes the upper part of a woman’s torso, between her waist and neck. It comprises her neck, shoulder, back and chest, that is exposed by the neckline of her clothing. In common usuage, though, Decolletage is most commonly applied to a neckline that reveals or emphasises cleavage.

Image result for indecent exposure of breast in nigeria girls
However, in reality, how much cleavage exposure that takes place at any point in time depends on the purpose of the cloth or dress worn. From its origin, low cut necklines are a feature of ball-gowns, evening gowns, leotards, lingerie and swim suit, among other fashions.

Although decolletage does not in itself prescribe the extent of exposure of a woman’s upper chest, the design of a decollete garment takes into account current fashions, aesthetics, and expression of social norms and the occasion when a garment will be worn.

Though neckline styles have varied in western societies and decolletage may be regarded as aesthetics and an expression of feminity, in some parts of the world, any decolletage is considered provocative and shocking.
Unfortunately in Nigeria, the word “provocative” and “shocking” are only seen by ladies with a lot of cleavage exposure as “arousing interest of the opposite sex” in a pleasant manner.

This is against the intended message of seeing cleavage exposure as attracting annoyance or anger in a strange or awkward manner.
This is the crux of the matter.
It is now fashionable for the average Nigerian girl or lady who wants to be seen as modern to wear tops with ample cleavage exposure, not minding the occasion.
Unfortunately for girls in tertiary institutions they end up attracting more than what they bargained for.
Image result for indecent exposure of breast in nigeria girls
In the words of a senior lecturer who spoke to Women/Style/Living Desk anonymously. “It is now a common sight to see youths either shabbily or offensively dressed on the streets, where sensitive parts of the body are exposed.
“This is unNigerian and amounts to a serious affront on Nigeria’s sense of morality and decency.
“Most irritating is the prevailing trend among our youths who exposed themselves, clad in dresses that reveal the essentials, boobs, buttocks, backs and hips.
“The common sights on our streets are boys and girls wearing trousers and skirts falling from their buttocks and they call it sagging”.
All of these traits now in Nigerian youths and some mothers who are supposed to caution their children are imbibed from foreign cultures without a thought as to when such attire may be worn.

According to history, gowns which expose a woman’s neck and top of her chest were very common and non-controversial in Europe from about the 11th century to the Victorian period in the 19th century.

The Victorian period is the period of the reign of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, especially the 19th century.
During this period, ball or evening gowns especially featured low square decolletage designed to display and emphasise cleavage.

However, the wearing of low cut dresses which expose breasts was considered more acceptable then, than they are today, with a woman’s bared legs, ankles, or shoulders considered to be more risqué than exposed breasts.
It is noteworthy that during the 16th century, women’s fashion with exposed breasts was common in society, even among queens and commercial sex workers. It was therefore emulated by all classes of women.

It is in line with this that cleavage exposure seems to be widely viewed in the Nigerian context among girls and ladies who indulge in it.
In aristocratic upper class circles, though, the display of breasts was at times regarded as a status symbol, as a sign of beauty, wealth or social position.

From the Renaissance onwards, the bared breasts even invoked association with nude sculptures of classical Greece that were exerting an influence on art, sculptures and architecture of the period.
After the French revolution, decolletage became larger in the front and less in the back. It continued during the fashion period of 1795 to 1820, when many women wore dresses which bared their bosom and shoulders.
But during the Victorian period, social attitude required women to cover their bosom in public.

For ordinary wear, high collars were the norm.
Towards the end of the Victorian period, the full collar was the fashion, though some decollete dresses were worn on formal occasions.
Over the years, that followed decolletage passed through various changes and or adjustment, but during a short period in 1964, topless dress design appeared at fashion shows.

However, those who wore the dresses in public found themselves arrested on indecency charges.
The implications are that in western and some other societies, such as Nigeria, there are differences in opinion as to how much body especially breast, exposure is acceptable in public.

Unfortunately, the level of cleavage exposure in Nigeria has become not only appalling, but has been found to be the cause of numerous criminal sexual attacks on women in Nigeria.

This is mostly due to the low level of exposure and awareness of the Nigerian society, compared to the western societies from where these traits were copied.
It can therefore be argued that the remote causes of most of the sexually related criminal acts that plaque the Nigerian society today are traceable to this trend of indecent dressing.

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