Column Date 2007-03-26

Protect us against fat, not cleavage

My local supermarket has just put a white plastic shield in front of Cosmopolitan magazine.

Which made me curious: “Is there something on the cover of Cosmopolitan they don’t want me to see? Are they protecting me from some hideous, insulting or degrading image?”

So I peeked behind the shield and the answer was immediately clear: cleavage.

My friendly, local supermarket has decided to protect me from the sight of a woman wearing a bikini.

There’s also a plastic shield in front of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. As well as Glamour and Fitness. Same problem: cleavage.

(No other magazines are hidden behind these plastic shields, by the way, including one featuring a story titled “Sex Gossip: tips and tricks only your friends will tell you.”)

This silly censorship is clearly designed to make my supermarket a Norman Rockwell, 1950s kind of place, where the sight of cleavage will certainly corrupt young minds and turn innocent young men into raving, lascivious creatures of the night.

The supermarket has the right to do this, of course. It’s their store.

But one could honestly ask what world these supermarket censors live in? Has anyone there looked outside their doors recently? Or even at their own customers on a hot, summer afternoon?

It’s an indisputable fact that the amount of cleavage exposed increases in direct proportion to the temperature. And when the temperature hits 90º, a young man will have absolutely no interest in the magazine rack for all the cleavage surrounding him in the checkout line.

I think these folks are protecting us from the wrong thing.

Because right next to the censored magazines you find the candy and chocolate rack – filled with everything unhealthy you can dream of, including a King Size candy bar that has 510 calories and 210 fat content calories!

So why doesn’t my friendly, family supermarket protect impressionable young men from this really dangerous stuff – food that can clog up their arteries and eventually kill them?

And why is this orgy of calories located right at the checkout counter, where Americans are tempted to buy candy on impulse and get fatter and more obese every year? Why don’t they hide it in the back of the store, with big warning signs that point out all the transfats and cholesterol and sugar?

Obviously, they’ve made a corporate decision here: cleavage is bad, candy is good.

Now perhaps some loud, self-righteous minority group has gotten to the supermarket manager and threatened not to shop there unless “suggestive” magazines were covered.

Or maybe the supermarket is really in cahoots with these self-appointed vigilantes and the candy is there by intelligent design.

Their master plan probably goes like this: the fatter and more obese people get, the less attractive cleavage is.

And with no cleavage on the magazine rack, and no cleavage you really want to look at in the checkout line, all temptation vanishes.

So until the supermarket is lobbied by an aggressive group of men toting signs like “Real Men for Cleavage” and “Cleavage -- a Woman’s Right, a Man’s Delight” and “American Cleavage -- the Envy of the World,” I guess we’re all out of luck.

©2007 Peter Tannen