It’s been drilled into our heads that displaying cleavage is synonymous with trying to be sexy. With this idea having been established by a judgmental society’s standard, it was surprising to see Bridgerton, a show about 19th-century London high society, featuring plenty of cleavage, directly challenging the preconceived views we’ve held throughout our lives.
It wasn’t clear that the War on Cleavage didn’t always exist until we all started streaming Netflix’s Regency-era period drama. The clothing and the ways in which it continued to normalise and embrace cleavage — a very specific kind of cleavage at that — was even more fascinating than the new storyline. Emphasised by dresses with column skirts and low-swooping necklines, the half corsets beneath each character’s attire pushed their bosoms right into the spotlight, creating a shelf-like top cleavage that’s being dubbed the “Bridgerton Boob.”
From young women like Edwina Sharma and Penelope Featherington to respected matriarchs like Lady Danbury and Dowager Countess Violet Bridgerton, every female character in the show wears the amplified style.
Of course, the costumes aren’t totally historically accurate; high society women would have saved such revealing necklines for evening affairs. However, the show’s costume designer Ellen Mirojnick has managed to get rid of the scandal of Bridgerton Boob by making it the series norm. As Netflix’s most-watched series ever, this bold decision will hopefully help to normalise exposed breasts and remove the consequences of decades of cultural cleavage-shaming.
Don’t be mistaken, the Bridgerton cast is obviouly still sexy, but their cleavage-heavy costumes don’t feel oversexualized. These women are merely existing with their breasts in tow.
Despite the appearance of the Bridgerton Boob changing dramatically depending on the cup size of each character, no chest is mocked as being too big, too small, too much, or too little. No one is too old to flaunt their chest, and no one is ever told they’re “trying too hard.” It’s a concept that should exist outside of the confines of a streaming service.
Are we set to see more Bridgerton Boob IRL now that summer is approaching? Well, the proof is in the purchases, according to Klarna, a global shopping and payment provider. Between July 2021 (when Bridgerton first debuted) and January 2022, corset sales climbed by 22%, while babydoll dress sales increased by 109%. Fans are loading up now that Season 2 is out, with corset purchases up 407% in the last two months alone.
Is this to say that Regency-era cosplay holds the answer to dispelling the negative preconceptions associated with large chests and visible cleavage? Certainly not, but watching the season’s most popular television show desexualize boobs will hopefull help us feel more comfortable and confident about our own.