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Finally, Some Cleavage! The Perks of Letting it All Hang Out

The heaving cleavage on display during the Emmy awards was a challenge to viewers to toss out any preconceptions they might have about large breasts and their impropriety.

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That's why the ballsy, breast-proud exposure of the likes of Hendricks and Vergara feels like non-conformity, rather than over-sexualization. They're representing for those of us stuck in the middle, who have been made to feel like we have something to hide, or that we're only our chests. They're representing for those of us who got sent to the principle's office in seventh grade just for wearing a tank top, or who were doused with water in eighth grade for making the mistake of wearing a white T-shirt.

Maybe it sounds ridiculous, taking a concept so simple and banal as dressing for an awards show in 1-percenter Hollywood, and turning it into a righteous reclamation of body politic. But it does a lot for those of us who've struggled with this our whole lives. And when anyone in the public eye wears their chests with confidence—whether it's Kat Dennings, Zooey Deschanel, Tina Fey, or Padma Lakshmi, all of whom let their necklines go free—it's a welcome bit of encouragement. Don't call it a comeback. We've been here for years.

Julianne Escobedo Shepherd is an associate editor at AlterNet and a Brooklyn-based freelance writer and editor. Formerly the executive editor of The FADER, her work has appeared in VIBE, SPIN, New York Times and various other magazines and websites.