Women's Showcase

“The Breast Archives,” Is Breaking Down the Barriers that Encompass Female Suppression

 

Article by Joanna Buoniconti, Staff Writer HCWM

In the 21st century, women are considered to be coming into the height of their

power, but can we really assume power in society and in life when so few of us

are truly content in our own skin? A person’s body is often the first thing that we

notice when meeting someone. For hundreds of years, women’s bodies have been

seen as mere objects to be lust after or worse ridiculed, when deemed displeasing

to the eye. But it hasn’t always been like this! From a young age, we are taught by

society to cover our breasts. We are conditioned to believe that the female energy

is something that needs to be hidden and minimized, rather than celebrated.

Local filmmaker and former WGBY producer, Meagan Murphy, hopes to help

resolve these issues in her documentary and work associated, entitled “The

Breast Archives,” by opening up the conversation for women to openly talk about

their bodies and how it relates to a preconceived sense of self.

Murphy, a former graduate of Northeastern University, has always had a passion

for filmmaking. She studied Communications in college and kick started her

career shortly after by becoming involved with various TV stations and

production companies in Boston. While living in the city she worked on a couple

films and edited a magazine geared toward filmmaking and photography, known

as The Boston Shoot magazine.

Twenty years ago, Murphy ventured out to Western Mass to work as a producer

for a startup company that was stationed in Springfield. And while the company

didn’t prove to be successful, she soon became attached to the scenery and

historic charm that this area has to offer. She didn’t know it at the time but

Meagan Murphy would gain more than she ever dreamed she could in making

the decision to come to this area.

 

What inspired Murphy to start “The Breast Archives” project?

Upon moving out here, Murphy got a job working as a producer at WGBY. She

loved working there and remained as a producer for twelve years before starting

her own project: “I was going along and doing my thing [at WGBY], I was recently

married and I was really looking for a women’s group. I joined this mystery

school, known as ‘The Priestess Path’. While I was doing that, I started to realize

that women’s lives and their identities were formed by their relationship with

their bodies. And I realized that in the programming and producing I had been

doing for all these years, I wasn’t contextualizing women’s stories in that way. I

was coming at it from a more mainstream approach and it just became

something that I was more aware of.”

The issue fully imbedded itself, when it became personal. In growing up with

large breasts and them developing at a young age, Murphy recalls her breasts

changing the way that her peers and friends interacted with her. “It wasn’t an

issue at the time, but I just felt like a spectacle” she admits. Millions of young girls

around the globe feel ashamed of their body because of their breasts, and it’s an

issue that no one talks about. However, it seems to affect every women at some

point in their lives.

Breast cancer diagnoses have skyrocketed during the last couple of decades. A

coincidence? Murphy didn’t think so, when many of her friends and family were

diagnosed. For many women, their breasts were a foreign body to them. And

women who were diagnosed harbored this fear and resentment towards a piece

of themselves. Many women never talk about these things, about these emotions

towards our breasts because we’ve been taught to hold shame towards them. But

these feelings are not going away, in fact, their roots are only deepening.

In a conversation with a friend of hers who is a world practiced Hindu doctor, the

issue of breast cancer came up. To which her friend offered an eye-opening

statistic, “90% of [all] women are unhappy with their breasts.” Like anyone else

would be, Murphy was equally stunned and intrigued by this statement. Then,

Murphy started connecting the dots between all that she had observed thus far

on this topic and sensed a correlation between an increase in the amount of

breast cancer and learned body dysmorphia. Murphy, then started doing

research on this topic and found corroborating data to support her suspicions

and observations.

 

One of Murphy’s favorite activities to do when she’s not working or doing

research, is traveling. She’s been fortunate enough to travel all around the globe,

and similar to many world travelers, she finds inspiration for her work within

places that she visits. Shortly after making these discoveries, Murphy went on a

trip to Egypt, which in retrospect became a fundamental building block of her

project. While exploring some of the ancient temples, which were completely

deserted due to the president stepping down just prior, Murphy couldn’t help but

notice a common theme. A majority of these massive temples were scattered

along the Nile and were only accessible by boat. These temples were all dedicated

to various goddesses, and in looking at the carvings on the outside and in the

inner sanctuaries, Murphy could hardly believe her eyes, “Every female was

topless. They were nursing, they were running, and some were in ceremony; but

the women of Egypt were topless, essentially. And I started to wonder, who were

these women? What was the relationship that these women have with their

bodies?”

It was through traveling to another country and seeing the ancient drawings, that

Murphy was able to grasp the magnitude of this issue. Society did not always

have astigmatisms towards the female breasts. And throughout the rest of her

trip, an idea kept coming into her mind that “the breasts contained a unique

wisdom.” Ever since the dawning of the patriarch, people have tried to suppress

the female wisdom by forcing young girls to wear bras. Motivated by her notion,

Murphy returned home ready and eager to tackle this project, to interview

women about the “wisdom in their breasts.”

How did Murphy go about creating a documentary on such a controversial issue?

Seasoned filmmakers often see the world through a different perspective, good

filmmakers have an undeniable talent for portraying controversial themes in a

beautiful way that have the power to leave an imprint on the human spirit.

Furthermore, this project was undoubtedly destined to fall into Meagan Murphy’s

lap. When casting her net in search of people to take part in her documentary,

she wanted the women to be vulnerable and transparent. Given that the

documentary was titled, “The Breast Archives,” the women who participated did

have to show their breasts. Murphy recalls the women being nervous when first

revealing themselves, but the documentary is all about women connecting with

their primitive feminine energy. And for anyone who has viewed the

documentary can attest to the fact that, the women seemed empowered and more

comfortable once being exposed. The issues that women have with their breasts

is universal, and Murphy’s purpose in pursuing this is for women to start

discussing these issues instead of suppressing them; because if this issue is

expressed more one can hope that the female breast will become less stigmatized.

What were people’s reactions upon seeing the documentary?

As many important issues in society, the issues that women have with their

breasts can be portrayed as a highly controversial issue. Over a year ago when

her film was shown for the first time, the reaction of the audience can best be

described as cathartic and overwhelming. The women in the room were relieved.

The whole issue revolves around the fact that women feel alone in their

insecurities, specifically in the shame that they hold inside about their breasts.

These insecurities are normal, and in watching this documentary women are

finally able to see that we’re not alone in our feelings. More importantly, if nine

women were able to resist the shame that society conditions us to have against

our breasts, maybe we all can resist our inner negativity towards our breasts.

Whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, throughout history and very much

today men play a large part in a female’s relationship with her breasts. And

shockingly enough, the majority of Murphy’s audience has become men. They

have developed this appreciation and wonder over time for a woman’s breast,

specifically that of a mother’s breast. For women because we’ve been

breastfeeding for thousands of years, we become accustomed to the miraculous

nature of the process, but men who are not have developed a fascination towards

it. While it is important for women to get in touch with their feminine energy and

learn to have a good relationship with their bodies and not be shameful of them,

it is also crucial for men to learn about this since they are the ones who females

first expose their breasts to.

What work does Murphy do in the community to further implement her goals for

the project?

For younger generations, self-esteem and body dysmorphia have become

increasingly pressing issues. In order to rectify this issue, Murphy has started

orchestrating focus groups with 13 year olds and their moms, in hopes of

addressing the astigmatisms of breasts at a young age so that they prove to be less

harmful for the self-esteem later on. Murphy is also working on a Kickstarter

campaign, and raising awareness for breast cancer which is a cause that she is

very vocal about. Eventually, it is her goal to start a “Gal Pal Kit,” which is a way

for women to share breast stories in a relaxed and safe setting. From her

experience in the filmmaking industry, once a topic becomes acknowledged and

talked about more it becomes less of a taboo subject, which is Murphy’s ultimate

goal in this project!

While Meagan Murphy is best known for being a phenomenal filmmaker, she is

first and foremost a woman, who loves nature and enjoys being active. It is

through her own insecurities that this project that this project arose, but it has

become a mission for her and grown to be so much more than she ever dreamed

possible. This is a very personal issue that pleads importance, for the sake of the

mental health of all young girls and women far and wide. Once the suppression

of a woman’s spirit and body is stopped, then will women fully blossom and be

able to assume their rightful roles in helping to shape this world into a better

place!

For more information about Meagan Murphy and her groundbreaking work, visit

http://www.thebreastarchives.org

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