Followers of "FashIon Over Fifty" on Facebook may not know that I am an attorney, (as well as a registered nurse). For the past 4 years that I have been featuring Fashion Over Fifty on Facebook, there have been some bitter battles over photos where women are showing their cleavage. Every few months I am forced to post a notice advising women that rude and insulting comments are not allowed. However, it seems that many women don't understand what this means, or they choose to ignore my requests. The best way I can explain the requirements of being a member of this page, is through legal analysis.
Yesterday, I asked women to explain why they do or do not like to see cleavage on a woman Over Fifty. The responses were well thought out and very intelligent. Fortunately, women stated their positions without the sometimes nasty, bitter and judgmental comments I get when a photo is posted. For that I thank you all very much. I respect all sides of the cleavage issue and would like to put it to rest.
In 1954, the Supreme Court established the Roth test that described obscenity (and pornography) as “material whose "dominant theme taken as a whole appeals to the prurient interest" of the "average person, applying contemporary community standards.” Later in 1964, to more clearly define the Roth test, Supreme Court Judge Stewart stated the he couldn’t explain pornography or obscenity other than "I know it when I see it”. This is a now a legendary quote that has been used many times since 1964.
Why do I bring up these cases? Because this country has struggled valiantly to protect the
First Amendment which entitles us to have Freedom of Speech. Along with that is included the Freedom to dress as one desires. We can all agree that if someone walks around naked, that is probably not protected by the First Amendment. I think we can also agree that if someone is only partially clothed, but engaging in inappropriate sexual acts, that would be deemed as pornographic on Facebook.
My page has never posted anything that would be considered pornographic or obscene. However, from the results of the responses over the past few years, it appears that there are women who disapprove of showing cleavage as if there is a community standard that applies to all women, as if cleavage were pornographic. Some find it distasteful on women at any age, and some on women Over Fifty. The Courts have not decided on what is decent or indecent, hence there is no test for this. It is a subjective opinion based upon a woman’s background, upbringing, and perhaps even religious beliefs. Fashion Over Fifty respects every woman’s right to uphold their own individual standards of decency.
On the other hand, this country and my page are filled with many many many different opinions and standards of decency. In fashion, designers push the boundaries of our notions of decency and taste beyond what is familiar. Sometimes it is done for shock value, like the designer Rick Owens often does. It may stretch your standard of taste and decency; nonetheless, it is protected speech. Particularly in fashion, also considered an art form, there are many perspectives on what is pretty and what is not. To some, modern art may be just lines or squiggles and to others it may be brilliant. The same holds true for cleavage.
This brings me to the final point, which is that everyone has different standards. You might like some of them, and you may disagree with some of them, but does it reach the test of “I know it when I see it.”? No. Never. Although something may be highly distasteful to you, it is within the bounds of decency and protected speech. As this page is about fashion, your standards of decency may and probably will be challenged. My standards are even challenged, and yet, I will post something if I find it relevant. Why? Because the only place we grow is outside of our comfort zone.The only way to effectuate change and diminish negative opinions about women Over Fifty is to bring it out in the open and confront it. Therefore, if you feel uncomfortable looking at something; it is not your taste; or if you find it offensive, it is asked that you remain respectful of the other person’s standard of decency. To put it bluntly:rude, judgmental and insulting comments are not acceptable. I am not a Court of law, but this is my page, and this is the law of this page.
It is very clear that there are differing opinions based on different backgrounds, but no one has the right to impose or insult those with opinions that are not their own. This goes not only for cleavage, but for everything. That is the foundation of this country and as a lawyer, the foundation upon which I base this page. If your sense of decency is offended, you are kindly asked to scroll past it, ignore it, or unlike the page. One may think their negative comment is being made in a vacuum, but it is not. This page has over 230,000 members, and mean or cruel comments affect everyone. Other women read these comments and some women have "un-liked" the page because of them.
Common decency and respect for each other is a requirement of being a member of this group which I take great pains in making relevant to today. I am highly protective of my creative content and much thought goes in to helping all of us understand each other and have tolerance for one another. If you disagree with my content, my policies, or even me, I respectfully request that you remove yourself from being a member. Thank you, Wendy Packer J.D.
Thank you Wendy. I love your page. I sometimes do not like the styles, but I would never belittle anyone who does. I am sad that others feel it necessary to, and maybe, seeing as they feel this need, they should be blocked from the page, and find elsewhere to spread their negativity. I believe you do a great job of helping women lift each other up. You are appreciated.
Thanks so much for your input. The problem is, I get about 20,000 new readers every few months, so the newer members
don’t know the rules of the page. If there is anything really out of line, that person is banned immediately.
I appreciate your kind words, truly!
I am impressed! Thank you Wendy!
Thanks for your kind words and support. I need it!!
Well said and hurrah for free speech, and dress.
That said, I’ll tell you what gets me—–the posts with supposed “Walmart” attire. The people in those pictures choose to go about looking like that and other than wondering if they even have mirrors in their houses, most viewers just look and move on without needing to pick them apart. I wish your clan would do likewise. Putting someone else down doesn’t raise your own worth and I wonder how many could stand next to the knockouts on your page and feel confident about their own appearance. My nieces (both really knockouts) and I enjoy following you and talk about what we learned and liked. It’s fun. Cleavage vs. no-cleavage? Whatever you think makes you look good, do it. If it makes you uncomfortable, cover up, or look somewhere else. Keep on entertaining and enlightening us, Wendy.
Thanks so much for writing in and sharing your opinions. I love to hear more from the readers, but it
is hard on Facebook. Your words, believe it or not, make all of this effort worthwhile.
Well written Wendy, so sad you have to continue to state the rules of the page and a damn shame that Facebook seems to have a culture of negative comments
Don’t forget, I get about 20,000 new members every few months, so it might not be the same members.
My guess is, it is new members who don’t know the policy. Thanks for your input.
Very thoughtful article that explains your blog and the standards you hold members.
Thanks writing and letting me know that you understand. I appreciate that.
Excellent essay Ms. Packer. I have mixed feelings on cleavage—- at any age, as I had large breasts from any early age. 14 or 15. And one girl in my junior high school class had huge breasts and the boys treated her as if she were easy, cheap and a slut… only because of the size of her breasts. I never wore revealing clothes, and felt later that only women with augmented large breasts did so to create interest in their bodies. I certainly did not feel that I needed to call further attention to my body to create further interest in me from men in a sexual, superficial way as a young woman. I am now 69 3/4 years old —- I wear low cut tops, and v necks, but I still am not interested in throwing my tits about… and not really interested in seeing other women’s either. They can, and do do as they like —. But what is the motivation for revealing their bodies in this way? I live in the south of France for a good part of the year, and while women there (in the past) went topless at the beach (as I did in my 30s) they didn’t constantly feel the need to show their breasts when fully dressed. I would love to see a deeper discussion of this topic…. not just your fully justified warning and rules!
I think about the deeper meaning of this too. Humans are not monkeys. We all have self-control. If
a woman shows her cleavage, or even her breasts at the beach, it is not an invitation.
I don’t think it is only about no self-control, it is about power. I think men are very insecure and
it starts with locker room talk in high school.
It’s good that everything is coming out and that men are being held responsible.
Let me know if you have further thoughts. Maybe we can write an article together.
Thank you, Wendy.
Common decency and respect has been a benchmark for your page and is gratefully appreciated!
Gini Thatcher Hengen
Thanks for your support and words of appreciation. Believe it or not, when I get comments like yours
it makes all the hard work I put in, worthwhile.
The variety and uniqueness of the posts give me grounding to try out the unusual. I enjoy making my style an original form of art, which may or may not include cleavage. It’s a beautiful part of a woman’s body, and yes, I understand those that prefer covering up; what I don’t accept is judgmental shaming. There are times and places when it’s not appropriate, (fossil hunting in a scoop neck = bra full of shards), but if I choose, at age 66, to wear a lower cut, that’s my personal option.
Good for you! I am 64 and would show cleavage if I liked a dress that had it!!
It is not an invitation to men. Women who say this though, I think may be
somewhat old fashioned. Welcome to 2018!!
I wanted to let you know I read your article.
We are all unique individuals with different likes and dislikes. But as women we all need to support and respect each other and embrace our femininity.
There is no right or wrong in fashion. That’s what makes it fun for all ages!
Thanks for writing and your input. It makes me feel better when I get validation from other readers. No one knows what
is like to have to sit there and read the ugliness. Sometimes I lose it!!
Thanks again. Best, Wendy
The fact that you must constantly remind page viewers to be respectful and refrain from making rude or negative comments is sad. We think we’ve come so far,and are making headway in this society, yet this behavior indicates that women are not the sorority we wish to be; rather, so many still buy into the notions that we are in a competition with one another.
I agree with you 100%. Rarely do I talk politics, but today twitted some swear word that is all over the media.
Some women think it’s okay to insult others like he does. It just isn’t okay, and he is setting a terrible
example for everyone. I think that is one reason women have become so much more aggressive, It’s in the air
I do get about 20,000 new readers every few months, so it might not be readers who have been members for a long
There is never a good reason or time for rudeness. A little common courtesy is always appreciated.
You are 100% correct. Thanks for your support.
I really wish that you didn’t have to keep commenting on this, but for some reason women find it completely acceptable to be horribly rude to and about each other. They don’t care about what they write on the internet because they’re not talking face-to-face with a live person. They can be vicious, petty, and nasty without any conscience. I previously mentioned in your earlier post that I belong to a food group. In the pinned post, the rules of the group are stated. The admin immediately removes all offenders, no warning. She just kicks them out. It is absolutely the best group that I’ve ever belonged to. The most supportive people are on there. I’ve seen a few comments slip by and as soon as they are noticed, the admins remove that person. No warning. No second chances. If I ever run a group, those will be my rules. I wish you would implement the same rules on your members. Some of them are just over-the-top.
I do ban quite a few people. I have over 230,000 followers though, so I think it may be a bit harder to keep track. Some days I don’t get a chance to read all of the responses because there are so many. Believe me, the negative responses drain me too. It feels disrespectful to me because I work so hard at being neutral and presenting all sides. If I banned every rude comment, I would be banning all day!! But, thank you for your input. Please let me know if you see something you find unsuitable that may have slipped by me. Best, Wendy
Thank you for your thoughts. I think this whole issue is fabulous, because we really must think about what is/isn’t appropriate under whose auspices? There is the argument that women should be able to where whatever they want without harassment(totally agree)versus they need to dress “appropriately” (whatever that means) to not invite an “invitation.” (I also agree.) This is not an either/or issue. But women should be able to dress as they culturally see fit and be able to move about unmolested. And what does THAT mean? Comments? Touching? Abuse? Very, very complex as I see it. Bottom line in my opinion, is if a females says, “no” it needs to be respected. Period. No means no. Show cleavage or not. Thanks for your great blog/article.
I love your thought process because it is exactly as I see it!!! If a woman shows her cleavage it is
not an invitation for a man to take advantage. We are not monkeys. We all have self control, and
men need to start using it.
You have not nor would you ever post anything highly distasteful.I have scrolled on by.
Thanks so much for your support. Best, Wendy
I am so proud of you ! I love your page, if there is something I don’t care for, I simply scroll on by. No need to commemt, just scroll on, if there’s one posting I scroll by, there are many more that I have liked or commented on.
Thank you so much for creating this page, giving us fashion to like or not to like. Thank you for sticking to your beliefs and keeping the integrity of this page.
Thanks for your support and kinds words. It is members like you that make it worth all of the effort,
I put in.
I love your article and very much respect your opinion regarding the cleavage issue. This is definitely a very personal, individual ideal that spans the entire world. I personally think that cleavage can be beautiful and sexy! I only take issue when some women think that their cleavage is their entire worth…that without having their breasts bared for all to see they’re somehow worthless ….we are not and should not be defined by our breasts. Women are beautiful…our breasts play but a bit part of the wholeness of our “beauty”…our minds, personalities, our beliefs and so much more (including our bodies) define who we are, one without the other fails to illuminate the entirety of our worth. ✌️
HI Lois, Thanks for taking the time to write to me. I appreciate your input and your support. Please keep me posted
if there is anything you would like to share. I love hearing from the readers like you. Best, Wendy
I love your page. Keep it coming. I may not “like” a particular outfit on a particular day but I have never seen anything obscene.
Thanks for your kind word and your support. I actually feel like some of the language
women use about other women lacks decency. Best, Wendy
I love this site. I sometimes find myself standing in front of a mirror wondering if my outfit is okay.. age appropriate. This site has given me the voice of other women telling me “who the heck cares? Go for it”.
I have been telling my friends that the show, “The Handmaid’s Tale” is so frightening, because lately I’m seeing echos of it in the real world. Please stand strong in your wildy beautiful self.
I saw that it won a lot of Golden Globes but I have never watched The Handmaid’s Tale. I have
to watch it. If you look at the younger generation and what they are wearing I personally
don’t think it will ever go back to that point…but a lot of things have happened lately that
I never thought would. Thanks for your input. Best, Wendy
Thanks for your kind words and support.
Thanks so much. Best, Wendy
Totally agree it is a subjective thing. We all have our own thoughts and views and people who have an opinion different to ours does not make them “wrong.” It is just that. On opinion.
Thanks so much for your input. I agree with you, but there is no reason for anyone to insult another woman, or to
I love your page and enjoy it all…wether I agree or not.
HI Dolores, Thank you. That is the nicest thing anyone has said. It feels like a slap in my face when people are so rude because I go to such efforts to be neutral. Best, Wendy
Just like in life. If it is not your thing, move on. Why people have to be rude is beyond me. Just sayin.
You are 100% right. If only women would do that….
Like everything in life , it really depends on the look of the cleavage, not the age! As some ladies age quicker than others. Thatvis all there is to it!
Thanks so much for writing in and letting me know your opinion. I agree that there are some rules around decency,
but no one should be able to insult someone or be crude if they choose otherwise.
Very well said! I’m so glad and honored to be part of this community. You rock! Thanks!
Thanks for your kind words and support. I am proud to have readers like you.
While I am not comfortable showing my cleavage at my 77 years old I completely agree with you about the right of others to do so! One of the difficulties we are currently having in our country is our inability to agree to disagree without vitriol. You are right on with this post!
Thanks so much for your kind words and support. The President himself is using foul language on Twitter, so
people today think it’s okay to insult someone else and be crude. Others can conduct themselves they want,
but I can control what goes on on my page. I am 64, I am not sure if I will show my cleavage at 77 either!!
I show my cleavage a lot of times thanks to Trinity and Susannah. I’ve got big boobs and a cleavage make them seem smaller.
I think it looks nice when women dress up and show a cleavage just enough and just enough is depending on a lot of different things – clothes, occasion, time of the day, family or friends gathering, could keep going but stop here.
Thank you again for a nice article and a wonderful page on Facebook
Best regards Eva ??
Hi Eva, Thanks so much for your support and kind words. I truly appreciate them. Please let me know if you see anything unsuitable because I am serious about sorting out the negative comments. Best, Wendy
Thanks for your kind words and input. Cleavage is beautiful and so keep on doing what you are doing.
There are no rules. Best, Wendy
Very well stated. I’m 100% with you.
Thanks so much, I appreciate your support and kind words. Best, Wendy
Hi Wendy, I am totally on your side, I totally agree with you and proud to be a big fan of this page!
Thanks so much for your kind words and your support. I am proud to have women like you on my page.
Wishing you the best in the coming year. Best, Wendy
Meanness and rudeness are like addiction..acquired and hard to overcome. They can be overcome by simply thinking first, before one speaks or writes. Thank you for the article. We all need to be more mindful.
Thank you Edyepat, I appreciate your support. Let me know if you see anything unsuitable, please. Best, Wendy
Thank you!!! You said it all and beautifully!!
Thanks for your support. Feel free to tell me if you see anything not suitable. Best, Wendy
Thanks for your support. Best, Wendy
Thanks for the support. Best, Wendy
As the saying goes, ‘if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.’
The standard of decency is individual
The standard of Public decency could be offensive to very minor audience
to my understanding is legal as long as nipples and Vagina are not exposed in female gender..and reproductive organ in a male gender.
The cleavage is a thing of all age.. and getting upset and insulting for a photo that one dislike is utterly stupid and unfruitful to no one..
Watch and move on..or do not watch at all
I agree with you 100%. Unfortunately today, on social media, people think it’s okay to be rude.
Thanks for your input. Best, Wendy
Unfortunately, no matter where you post too you’re going to have negative comments. This is very similar to the breast feeding in public “issue.” All cleavage is beautiful, no matter the age of it!
You are so right. There is no pleasing everyone. I think with the political climate, people also think
it’s okay to say whatever rude things comes to their mind. It may be okay for some people, but it’s not
okay for my page. Thanks for your input, Best, Wendy
Well stated Wendy
Thanks Kari, Best, Wendy
I fully understand why a woman may want to show off her physical assets. And it it is not always to get attention from men. Sometimes it is for her own self-esteem. Sometimes it is her brand.
What I don’t understand is why do it when, for instance, you are giving a history lecture, teaching children, or doing a job in a male industry where women are already looked down on and treated as inferiors and thought of as only worth how they look, instead of how they think and act and the work they produce.
In those cases, especially in the business work place, if cleavage is such a great thing, why don’t men show off their bodies, too? There are two double standards at play here and I am of the opinion that women who dress to manipulate men with their breasts are making life harder for all women to be taken seriously.
I couldn’t agree with you more. A woman showing here cleavage away from a party or evening out, wants attention, I think.
I think even tight sweaters are a little risky in the work environment.
I like your analysis. Very astute. Thank you. Best, Wendy