Let's Talk: Cleavage by Susan Tepper

Let’s Talk: Cleavage by Susan Tepper

To cleave or not to cleave: that is the question.

Yes, I admit I have outright stolen every word from Shakespeare but the word cleave. I think he’d be okay about it, since I attribute the quote to him. Plus, he had a randy sense of humor.

So what about cleavage, Madame Author?

First I thought I should separate this conundrum into a female vs. male pie chart. See where the dice land. Frankly, to show cleavage in your author photo is kind of like tossing the dice. Some women will hate you for it. Especially if you have gorgeous cleavage. Those who feel women have gotten the short end of the publishing stick might be particularly offended.

VIDA, how do you stand on the matter of cleavage in author photos?

Men – most, if not all – will love seeing cleavage. That’s kind of a given.

"cleavage" image by Flickr user J. Lightning

“cleavage” image by Flickr user J. Lightning

Movie stars aside, cleavage debuted in the classical music world some twenty years ago. Primly dressed soloists and violinists, mostly, photographed in high-necked collars, were suddenly letting it all hang out.  Like superstars. I guess their publicists saw the writing on the wall, and decided to go the flesh trade route. Is that what female writers are up to with their cleavage shots?

Then there are those who go the extra mile, revealing a glimpse of a boob tattoo (but just a glimpse!). Are we going this route in order to sell a book? Or are we so in love with our boobs we just have to share them with the world at large?

We all have them. Even tiny boobs can be taped into a cleavage line. Actresses have been doing it for decades. But writers? Serious writers?

I have thought long and hard about this boob thing. To boob or not to boob? Mine are decent. I can flaunt them as good as the next writer. Should I buy something low-cut and slinky for my next author photo? Without them, will there be a next author photo?

I’m so on the fence!

Because I think it boils down to this: Read my work if you think it will appeal to you. Don’t read my boobs.

Dear Readers, how do you feel on this boob subject? Please let us know in the comment box below!


susan (2)Susan Tepper has been a writer for twenty years. Her recent title, dear Petrov (Pure Slush Books, Australia), is a novella set in late 19th century Russia during a time of war. An award-winning author, Tepper has also been nominated nine times for the Pushcart, and once for the Pulitzer Prize in fiction for her novel, What May Have Been. “Let’s Talk,” her monthly column, features here at Black Heart Magazine. She is also founder/host of FIZZ a reading series at KGB Bar in NYC, ongoing sporadically these past eight years. Read more at SusanTepper.com.