L-R) Among the subjects of “The Breast Archives” are Heather, Petra and Leslie. Courtesy of The Breast Archives”
How stripping down taught these women to love their boobs
By Melissa Malamut; November 12, 2018; New York Post
On a trip to Egypt in 2011, Meagan Murphy became awestruck at the size and detail of the mammoth statues depicting ancient female heroines.
Really, though, she couldn’t stop staring at their breasts.
“I was in one of the temples by the Sudanese border looking at a statue of the goddess Isis, the mother of creation,” the 54-year-old filmmaker tells The Post. “And I got a powerful gut feeling that the breasts contain ancient wisdom.”
That’s why Murphy created “The Breast Archives,” a documentary hitting iTunes today and DVD Nov. 20, featuring nine women whose ages span about four decades, talking about the complicated relationship they have with their breasts — mostly while topless.
“As it turns out, every woman’s breast story and every woman’s relationship with her breasts is tied to her sense of self,” Murphy says. “It’s important for women to share these stories. Nobody ever talks about it.”
Murphy reached out to friends and friends of friends in her Western Massachusetts community, but getting everyone to participate wasn’t always easy. “A couple of women, I had to twist their arm to [go topless] and others were excited to do it,” Murphy said. “Once the breasts were revealed, the women changed.”
Prior to the film’s release, preview clips have already garnered more than 1 million page views combined on YouTube and Vimeo, although Murphy admits that some of that traffic could, of course, be just “men looking for tits.” Viewer desires aside, subject Sandra Harrick, 71, called the process of baring it all for the film “deeply moving.”
“I never liked my breasts. I was an A cup, and no bras ever fit me,” the Westmoreland, NH, resident tells The Post. “It was embarrassment and shame. I didn’t feel like they were attractive. I didn’t have these sexual objects that other women had.”
Murphy made the subjects get existential, asking them how their breasts have influenced them to become the women they are today. This “sophisticated” questioning made Harrick begin to think about her body in a new way.
“Something just came over me. I stopped feeling the shame and detachment I always had and I started feeling the credibility of my femininity,” Harrick says. “It removed the sexual connotation that they are for someone else’s pleasure. They became mine. This may be the first time in my life that I am becoming friendly with my breasts.”
Another subject, Leslie Cerier, points to pop culture for shaping the way women think about their cleavage.
“We always see these perfect images [in ads]. But that’s just airbrushed,” says Cerier, 65, a chef originally from Queens but now living in Amherst, Mass. “One of the things I learned in the movie is how different every breast is.”
When participant Marsia Harris, 55, an artist in Wendell, Mass., was young, she thought her breasts were too big and “weird-shaped.” But an old boyfriend helped her come around. (“It took me several years until I agreed with him, though,” she says.)
Although Harris says she now loves her breasts, she wasn’t comfortable enough to bare it all for the cameras. In fact, she was the only woman who didn’t go sans clothes.
Still, she says that she really enjoyed the experience and hopes the film will have an impact on women.
“I’d love for this movie to help stop that negative speak that’s going on in young girls’ heads about how they are not thin enough or pretty enough, or smart enough,” Harris says. “I want people to honor themselves just as they are. We are miraculous.”