I’ve been wondering for a while why we as a whole seem to have an inability to recognize that female empowerment, even when concisely summed up in a catchphrase and penned in bold font, is a lot more complex than a t-shirt that reads: “Girls Run the World!” It feels almost insulting to continue to allow this kind of pseudo-fantasy of this is what feminism is. And maybe that’s what the women’s movement is becoming in a digital age littered with corporations buying up creativity. However, after watching the Breast Archives, I’ve come to realize that profound change, change that is truly transformational, change that could actually shift the way women are perceived by society, may be best initiated through the oldest act of time: storytelling.
The Breast Archives stands out for its honesty and authenticity. These are real women, with no rose colored glasses on about the cruelties of the world, but they have, amidst it all, come to a place where they are not bitter about their experience, themselves, or their bodies. And they are willing to share their stories and their wisdom so that we, the viewer, can start a dialogue with ourselves and others. The film portrays the stories and women in elegant, but simple terms. It feels like a conversation being held through a screen, the kind of comfortable conversation between friends that would last long into the night and leave you awake, thinking of possibilities.
It is un-doubtable: you walk away from the film deep in contemplation. These women’s perspectives about their breasts serve as a gateway into the female experience as a whole. The viewer is left to wonder: how does having breasts shape that? This is a concept we simply don’t talk about amidst health- class diagrams, coming of age indie movies, and the general chaos that is life: the influence of breasts in shaping who we are. You either have them or you don’t. Sometimes you lose them. Sometimes you fear them. Sometimes they single you out.
The stories told in The Breast Archives teaches us that all of this anguish happens in life, and sometimes for women it relates to their bodies, and the unique way we move through life. It’s easy to dismiss this connection, to ignore how our body has guided us through life’s moments. But, if we cannot talk about the things that are apart of us, what can we talk about? If we can’t recognize the complexity of our relationship with our body, how can we make strides in other areas of our life?
To refuse to recognize the connection between our bodies and our experience is to refuse to recognize that everything in life is connected. So, how do we, as a whole, make steps to understand these intricate connections that bind humanity and the world and ourselves to our identity? We start with watching The Breast Archives. We begin to learn more about these relationships with our bodies and with our communities. Only then can we finally reckon with everything else that is being a woman: one who is complex; one who is human.
Written by Grace Fiori
Grace Fiori is a senior in high school, and interested in journalism. She loves hiking, cooking, and photography. She lives with her family in northern Massachusetts.