In my universe, breasts are pretty normal. Not only have I nursed our kids for a non-consecutive total of over 60 months, but I spend a lot of my time looking at or talking about breasts. Between my friends and blogs I follow, chances are you don’t have to scroll very far on my Facebook page to see someone’s breast. Then add in my Twitter conversations, and it’s no surprise my husband constantly mocks me for always having a breast on my screen. So of course, he chuckled and rolled his eyes when he found me in the living room and immediately, there’s large, bare breasts on the television. I turned on the documentary “Busting Out”, a film about the history and politics of our odd obsession with breasts, and how it impacts us as a culture.
Filmmakers Francine Strickwerda and Laurel Spellman Smith put together a pretty impressive short summary of our shifts in breast-obsession here in the US over a period of time. It was interesting to see the discussion about how “most desired size” has been something that has regularly shifted, from very small, nubile barely-pubescent breasts, to very large and curvaceous ones. But always, the interest in this country is the breast.
Surprisingly, or maybe only surprising to me as an American, they successfully show that breast-obsession in a sexual light is much less common than we’d think. We all know different cultures have different body parts they find attractive or sensual, and even our own has over time shifted to allow people to show much more of their bodies without it being inherently sexual. But where for one culture it may be necks, another ankles, another the butt, ours has been one that stares at boobs. Heck, I’ve been guilty of being distracted from an interesting conversation by seeing a very nice pair of breasts prominently displayed on a woman. But anyway…
One of breastfeeding activism’s favorite anthropologists, Kathy Dettwyler, speaks on the film about breastfeeding and the ramifications that our attitude about breasts has had on our breastfeeding rates and normalcy.
I want you guys to watch it (it’s only an hour and on Netflix Watch Instantly!), so I don’t want to spoil everything discussed, but I will give a little warning. Filmmaker Francine Strickwerda lost her own mother to breast cancer, and they speak to children of a woman who fought breast cancer and has won. Their older daughter speaks frankly about her feelings going through it, displaying much wisdom past her years, but it’s a tear-jerker part of the documentary. Keep some tissues handy.
Here’s the preview:
If you’ve seen this, or if you go watch it now, let me know what you think. Do you think our choice of sexualized body parts has a major influence on our breastfeeding rates?
Do you struggle with feelings about your breasts as part of your identity as a woman?