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Don't Look Down

I took the Squirrelly to the pediatric dentist yesterday. The receptionist was a girl in her mid 20's wearing a push-up bra and an unconscionably low-cut top. She remained seated as she reviewed the papers I had to fill out so I had to look down at her, except when she would briefly stand, lean way over the counter, and point out some clause on the medical waiver form.

Dear Women on Earth: please knock this off. Maybe you think you're doing us men a favor, that anything that increases the net sum of cleavage in the world is A-OK in our book. And I'm sure that's true for some. But for those of us who were raised to believe that openly gawping at the breasts of a woman two feet in front of you is rude, your heaving bosoms -- while no doubt a real treat under other circumstances -- are an undue burden upon us. You have no idea how exhausting it is to concentrate on whatever you're saying about my son's dental coverage while 85% of my mental resources have been diverted to my eyeballs to prevent them from drifting southward; you have no idea what a drag it is that, in order to go from looking from your face to looking at the paper in front of me, I have to detour all the way around your chest -- feigning a glance at a wall clock en route -- or move my head so quickly that I risk whiplash.

Don't get me wrong: I loves me some cleavage. In a bar, at a party, on the beach. But at the pediatric dentist? Come on. That's practically entrapment. I mean, who's your target audience here? Rule of thumb: if you're in a profession where you routinely interact with married men toting one year-olds, we'll take your mammalian credentials as an article of faith -- no need to flash 'em.

Posted on May 03, 2005 to Observations


Good stuff. When a girl told me I was more interesting online than in person, I made a comment similar to yours about 85%, that I was too focused on not looking at her breasts when we were face-to-face.

Posted by: Scoots on May 3, 2005 6:21 PM

just found your blog... lovin' it. Hopefully you'll visit mine sometime.

Posted by: LJ on May 3, 2005 6:52 PM

Point taken...Of course, I do all I can to conceal because current circumstances have endowed me with some fairly terrifying ta-tas.

Thanks for your perspective. What are people thinking when they do that, I wonder?

Posted by: Miel on May 3, 2005 6:57 PM

A) (spoken in a bitter hiss) Stop ruining it for the rest of us! (He says, the father of a five-month-old.)
B) One wonders, purely from an academic standpoint, what might lead one to characterize one's ta-tas as "fairly terrifying."

Posted by: Chopper on May 3, 2005 7:08 PM

Dude! Dude! Ix-nay on the no oobies-bay...

I mean, *ahem* yeah, yeah... time and place, and all that sort of rot...

On second thought... If you can't control it, well, that's your problem, right? Hell, I've been in strip clubs and stared straight into the face of a completely naked woman, simply because her face was truly the most beuatiful part of her body... it's really not that hard (so to speak) to concentrate on a woman's face while you're speaking to her...

Posted by: That Guy on May 3, 2005 7:09 PM

Well, it's different when you're at a strip club. I mean, if you're raised to think that staring at boobies is Not Right, then it weighs a lot heavier on your mind when they fill the lower third of your field of vision. In a strip club, they're everywhere - there's nothing wrong with it in that scenario, and so you aren't so consciously aware of it.

Posted by: Davenport on May 3, 2005 7:30 PM

Rant On:
Not to be overly snarky here--(ok, a *little snarky*) but I'm willing to concede to that request if... and ONLY if, you can get the rest of the male race to stop speaking to our "racks" in the first place. (Stop calling them that, too. Say it with me... Breasts... gee, you didn't choke on your tongue and die! ) Because, in my experience (and I speak for most of my friends) we don't have to be "flashing" them for you to be "talking" to them. Directly at them. Our eyes are about a foot higher up.

Rant Off.

Posted by: Wende on May 3, 2005 7:37 PM

>Hell, I've been in strip clubs and stared straight into the face of a completely naked woman

Isn't that kind of like going to Captain Jack's Seafood Parlor, All Seafood Absolutely Fresh, and ordering the chicken piccata? I mean, what the heck was the point of that?

Posted by: Anonymous on May 3, 2005 8:22 PM

Thanks for the effort! You're a gentleman, and it's nice.

Posted by: may on May 3, 2005 8:51 PM

oh, I can only imagine how distracting that is. I mean, seriously, I've been in that office/at that store/ I have trouble not staring - and I'm the mother of a one year old. Perhaps it's because I'm relatively flat chested, but I am always a bit amazed by audacious displays of chestitude. It's more the way I would have trouble not staring at a really big tatoo or a multicolored mohawk but it still feels rude.

Must be 1000x worse for you fine gentlemen.

Posted by: LizRM on May 3, 2005 8:53 PM

oh, I almost forgot the mommy paranoia.

Is the Squirrelly okay? I hope so, but if so are we supposed to be taking them to a pediatric dentist at a matter of course?

*typing and rifling through Dr. Spock simultaneously*

Posted by: LizRM on May 3, 2005 8:58 PM

Amen, brother! There's nothing I want more at a good and rowdy party, but if I'm talking to a girl working the counter at the pharmacy, she shouldn't be wearing a low-cut t-shirt with a clever slogan in a place that will catch my gaze if I intend to read it.

And to Wende - what? You can't complain when people buy the advertised product. When a women dresses in such a manner to bring a man's attention to her chest, it's bound to happen. If I wear a speedo with a potato in the front (not that I do, often), you're gonna sneak a peak. I'm not saying it's wrong or all women do it all the time or that any of them should stop...I'm just sayin, if you have a neckline rivaling JLo's or pants with JUICY printed across the arse, we're going to take a gander.

However, I really think women just do this because they like having a reason to yell at us. Are ya with me, guys?

Posted by: Brock on May 3, 2005 9:26 PM

On the topic of words printed across clothing, it's a very devlish way of attracting even more attention to already prominent areas.

I mean, guys like to read signs. We drive around and we read all sorts of signs from road signs to stupid signs about chicken being 50% off. We can't help but decode the language so obviously flashed at us.

When you write words across boobies, you're asking for trouble.

Posted by: Jack on May 3, 2005 11:03 PM

Wow, I didn't expect to tune into the Benny Hill Revisionist Support Group today.

Posted by: Lung the Younger on May 4, 2005 1:42 AM

I've been "blessed" with prodigious boobage for so damn long, I've plumb sublimated the effect it might have on others (seriously, I'm completely oblivious). Thanks for the gentle[manly] reminder!

Oohh, the POWER!!

Posted by: holley on May 4, 2005 5:30 AM

The receptionist and her breasts are clearly in the employ of the evil insurance companies. While she's spieling about what insurance will and will not cover, you just smile benignly, transfixed by their trap. Do you even know what you signed??? I thought not.

Posted by: petitchou on May 4, 2005 6:27 AM

To quote The Simpsons:

Woman--Sir, my face is up here.

Homer--I've made my choice.

Posted by: bikeboy on May 4, 2005 6:28 AM

I have to agree with Brock: You can't complain when people buy the advertised product.

If its out there, I'll look. I might be married, but I'm not blind. And I've never found it so distracting that I can't hold a conversation, I just know that I'll be smiling when I leave that conversation, looking for the first male I know to inform of my fortunate situation.

Posted by: Greg on May 4, 2005 6:37 AM

So, lemme guess...the Queen caught you looking and you had to pretend that you really didn't want to and you found it an outrage, right?

Yeah, I gotcha. Carry on. Carry on.

Posted by: Skane on May 4, 2005 7:27 AM

I've got the name of a fantastic pediatric dentist in Bellevue where - I promise you - you will not have to look at the receptionists generous cleavage - unless he bends over to tie the laces on his loafers!

Posted by: Anonymous on May 4, 2005 8:13 AM

You know, my wife and I have a code for that -- TLM (Too little material). The more unfortunate thing is when the "advertisement" is for a lower-grade product, if you will. There's a rampant disregard for the healthy use of fabric. It's not like it's an endangered species people!

Oh, and pull your pants up too. Thanks.

Posted by: kevin on May 4, 2005 9:00 AM

So, I'm "asking for it" if my shirt has...anything...on it?
I think the point that some of the ladies are trying to make is that a lot of men will read just about anything as an "advertisement" and an invitation when really, sometimes, we're just wearing a damn t-shirt. Honest.
Of course, all bets are off if you're going to go and do something like wear a tank top reading "HOTTT" in rhinestones across the front.

Posted by: abby on May 4, 2005 9:10 AM

or how about "juicy" written across the bum?

Posted by: Rob on May 4, 2005 9:17 AM

I was wondering if anyone was going to bring up the current trend of having pants/shorts/etc with word(s) written across the seat. I try to be an enlightened, non-sexist male but when I see a woman with a slogan on her back-end - I'm already reading it. I figure that's the intention of the wearer and it aught to be okay. The problem really is that I see this clothing on young women - teens and sometimes younger. uuugghhh. What are these little girls (and their mothers that allow it) thinking?

Posted by: Bob on May 4, 2005 10:02 AM

I've read my comment a couple of times and am confused by the response. :) But, that's typical of me this time of year.

What I was trying to convey, although perhaps not as clearly as I intended, is that it's been my experience that a LOT of men gawk no matter what is being worn. I'm not complaining if you notice me because I'm dressing to be noticed. It's just the reality that no matter what we wear, getting eye contact proves to more difficult that you realize.

Or more simply put: what Abby said. :)

Posted by: Wende on May 4, 2005 10:39 AM

I disagree...there's ALWAYS a need to "flash-em".


Posted by: BillB on May 4, 2005 10:57 AM

quit your bitching and enjoy the view :)

Posted by: MJ on May 4, 2005 11:22 AM

I agree with Wende. I get a lot of guys focussing on my chest no matter what I'm wearing, even if it's the baggiest rattiest sweatshirt. And I tend to not wear tight or low cut shirts because of it. You don't see me staring at your crotch while I'm talking to you. Stop staring, please realize we don't have breasts just for your gawking pleasure, and we can't do anything about heredity.

On the other hand, I agree that chicks in a business setting shouldn't show a lot of skin. If that's the case, I tend to stare at their cleavage too, but with a look of disgust on my face.

Posted by: Amy on May 4, 2005 12:47 PM

the only thing that can possibly solve this problem (besides the burqua route, because face it, in centuries with more modest dress codes, straight men liked to oogle ankles more than was polite) is mass nudity. Once there's enough naked, people will stop finding stranger's anatomy interesting.

I say this as a girl who spent most of middle and high school in baggy sweatshirts, which are stuffy and uncomfortable.

Posted by: alex on May 4, 2005 12:59 PM

I don't see what the big deal about breasts is anyway. Men will always remember me for my singing voice.

Posted by: Dolly Parton and Britney Spears on May 4, 2005 1:10 PM

If I was your wife and I read this I would be insanely jealous. But then again: I'm a fucking psycho freakshow about that stuff.

Posted by: brittney on May 4, 2005 1:55 PM

Sheesh. Maybe we ladies should all don veils...?

I just can't imagine a Frenchman or Italian having this complaint. Americans can be awfully uptight about sex. Why can't you just discreetly appreciate the boobs and get on with your life?

Posted by: kate c. on May 4, 2005 3:53 PM

I managed to tie in this excellent post with a story about the Apple store, both as examples of the gestalt effect - the mind's form forming ability. OK its a stretch:

Posted by: larry on May 4, 2005 4:05 PM

Re: "I mean, who's your target audience here?"
Women take kids to the podiatrist too, as you have perhaps noticed, and the receptionist may have been trolling for companionship with a single mother. Nothing wrong with that! In which case you were not the target market, just collateral damage.

Posted by: Dan on May 4, 2005 5:42 PM

Jack's right about how distracting the printing is across the chest and bum. I mean, I used to buy Playboy for the articles and was so surprised when I found the centerfold!

Posted by: ink on May 4, 2005 9:56 PM

Ladies: perhaps my comment came off a little strong. In my experience, the girls that complain most about men gawking are the ones wearing clothing that invite (and often times, insist) gawking. I didn't mean to generalize about all women - it's just the ones I know.

And I'm with Alex - nudity all round!

Posted by: Brock on May 4, 2005 10:36 PM

Ok, Ok, break it up...

Women : What many of the men seem to be complaining about is not necessarily that they get views of boobs, but that they are given views of boobs with the VERY REAL threat of being attacked for viewing them. I think it is a good point that if you don't want your chest stared at, then don't wear writing across it... or at least not a long sentence or with a saying that takes some time to decipher. OR at least be willing to accept without backlashing that people (including men) will be reading the saying.

Men : Many women feel threatened, not just leered at, but threatened by a male staring at their chest. The Yedi gets a completely "GOOD JOB" exclamation from me, and honestly... I have to wonder about women who dress in a way that can only be considered "sexy" or "provocative" and then are offended by anyone thinking they are sexy, provocative, or eye-candy. HOWEVER, there are ways to sneak peeks and enjoy the view without coming off as a serial killer, a slimebag, or just rude. It is a tiny moving grey line to tap-dance on, but at least try.

I worked for some time with a woman who would wear incredibly open blouses and she was about 5'1", so most people when talking to her had to look down, and the cleavage was then generally in direct view and hard to avoid wihout wearing sunglasses or holding a clipboard carefully in front of oneself. And she was all the time complaining about getting leered at. To the point she nearly took her complaints to Human Resources. This is an example of the female crossing the thin grey line, imo.

Yes of course women should be able to wear what they want without becoming a victim of harassment, but noticing what is advertised (very good phrasing!) is not harassment. Going beyond noticing, well then yer on your own and keep your lawyers biz card handy.

~ Tracy

(heh heh.. first name that you can't tell gender from... I love my dad for naming me that!)

(ok, ok, female. But just to jab a wrench in your expectations and assumptions about where I am coming from... I am a GAY female. heh heh)

Posted by: tracy on May 4, 2005 11:01 PM

well, I agree with Tracy. If you learn the art of tact, you can look a woman in the eye, and the moment she looks away, get a look at the goods. Mind you DO NOT stare directly into the cleavage, try to aim off center. If you stare directly at it you may start mumbling, "Pretty... Pretty... Must feel... Can't stop..." It's like a moth to a flame at that point, and we all know what happens to moths. Also, I once got smacked by a woman who was wearing a pair of tight running pants with "Can't touch this" written across her ass. I proved her wrong, but paid the price.

Posted by: Idontbelonghere on May 5, 2005 12:53 AM

I think Seinfeld made a statement similar to: "looking at cleavage is like looking at the sun. You take a short peak and then look away."

Posted by: Rob on May 5, 2005 6:38 AM

Ladies, please try to take pity on us poor men. We are victims of biology, pure and simple. Our biological goal is to distribute our seed in such a fashion as to encourage the expansion of our species. And in order to ensure the survival of our offspring, we are genetically predisposed to seek a mate that will be able to provide ample nourishment to our progeny. And to make matters worse, we have chemicals pumping through our veins that attempt to render us incapable of considering any matter other than the attempted continuation of our lineage. When we wake up, we're erect. While we sleep, we ejaculate. That we're able to refrain from public masturbation is a miracle in itself. Several days out of every month, you claim "hormones" as a defense for being overly sensitive. We're "hormonal" 24/7/365.

So ladies, won't you please take pity on us poor men when we stare at your chests. We're slaves to our own biology and can't help ourselves.

Posted by: Skane on May 5, 2005 7:35 AM

Rob - Amen. And I do love me some sunny days.

Posted by: BillB on May 5, 2005 7:42 AM

Skane, no offense, but the "biology" excuse for plain bad manners? Gets kinda old. If you can miraculously "refrain from public masturbation", you can make eye contact.

Posted by: abby on May 5, 2005 9:05 AM

I ran (figuratively) into this exact same problem yesterday.

Posted by: Trenton Davies on May 5, 2005 9:45 AM

Well said, Abby. :) I'm printing up a T-shirt that says, "My eyes are up here." I'll send you one. ;)

See Guys, I'm happy to give you something to read. :)

Posted by: Wende on May 5, 2005 1:03 PM

I have been known to check out a guy's ass, discreetly. I've also been caught doing so by my boyfriend, in which case I blush and apologize for MYSELF not for womankind and our collective inability to not check out men's asses. And I am not apologizing for LOOKING, but for doing so too obviously, which embarrasses my boyfriend. Who of course would never check out a woman's breasts, NEVER.

I mean, if we're talking pre-pubescent girls, then yes, they're cleaved attire is disturbing, but otherwise what is the big deal? Just enjoy the view and don't make an ass of yourself.

Posted by: Le Foi on May 5, 2005 1:44 PM

It doesn't bother me. I do it all the time, then again, they're not huge or anything.

Posted by: Jas on May 5, 2005 4:58 PM

This is a status thing. Just like the king gets his jollies watching all the peons jump in the gutter when his train passes by, these women like seeing low-status males discomfited by their attire. The occasional dateable man it attracts is pure gravy.

Posted by: Noumenon on May 6, 2005 5:16 AM

abby, I'll remember that the next time one of my female co-workers unexpectedly turns b*tchy a few days out of the month.

If it bothers you women so much, then mention it to a guy WHEN he does it, rather than complaining about it on the internet later. Most guys think they're too sly to get caught looking. Prove them wrong and they might stop doing it.

Posted by: Skane on May 6, 2005 9:47 AM

My momma always told my dad "it's ok to check out the neighbor's tomatoes so long as you stay on your side of the fence."

I am a nudist and was raised that way. It is simply amazing the power of the unseen, or mostly unseen. Most folks have no idea how absolutely plain and ordinary the average body is when unveiled at the nude beach.

Get over it!

Posted by: Marilee on May 6, 2005 4:54 PM
I'm printing up a T-shirt that says, "My eyes are up here."

Wow, that's some whack anatomy.

Posted by: Zed on May 6, 2005 5:04 PM

It isn't just men who can be a little...distracted by this sort of thing, in case you didn't know!

Posted by: Sarah on May 8, 2005 5:23 AM

Couldn't you print up this post and fax it to the dentist's office?

Posted by: Jack on May 9, 2005 8:56 AM

Don't you think this post would work better with photographs of the offending cleavage? Just so we all can understand what you had to contend with?

Posted by: Chucklesthemonkeyboy on May 10, 2005 2:12 PM

So, I'm "asking for it" if my shirt has...anything...on it?

Nope. But as a practical matter, if you wear a push-up bra and a low cut top to work, those of us who do our best not to stare are going to have a tougher time. If I wore a codpiece to work, (Isn't that a pretty thought) I'd expect the occasional bewildered glance at my crotch.

Posted by: Aufero on May 16, 2005 7:03 AM