Laurie and Debbie say:
Physiologically, women’s breasts have one function: to make milk for babies.
Culturally, women’s breasts only get discussed in three contexts: how much they attract men, whether or not they are right now making milk for babies, and whether or not they contain or are about to contain cancerous tissue.
Enter Rachel Bloom, creator, writer, and star of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. In “Heavy Boobs,” the musical number above, Bloom doesn’t just present breasts the way women talk about them to each other (usually in private). She creates a context in which women’s breasts are NOT about men, NOT about babies, and NOT about health: they’re just about, well, having breasts. Being irritated by them, making fun of them, knowing with decades of lived experience how they move and exploiting that to make entertaining dance.
Lisa Wade, Ph.D., writing at Sociological Images, calls this out very clearly:
What Bloom and her fellow dancers do with their bodies is even more extraordinary. They defy the rules of sexiness. Their movements are about embodying heavy boobs and that’s it. It’s as if they don’t care one iota about whether a hypothetical heterosexual male will see them. The dance is unapologetically unsexy. No, it’s more than unsexy; it’s asexy. It’s danced neither to repulse or attract men; instead, it’s danced as if sexiness is entirely and completely irrelevant. There’s no male gaze because, in that two minutes, there’s not a man in sight.
More fine work at Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: Here’s Carey Purcell at Bust, interviewing co-star Donna Lynne Champlin on what the show means to her.
“A theatre person, especially a theatre person who looks like me, is not reflected on TV back to me,” Champlin said. “My type is middle-aged woman, not thin. I look like the average American middle-aged woman. The only TV roles I’ve ever had were for the secretary, the cop, the nurse. The acceptable nonsexual place for a middle-aged woman to be on TV. They would be 1-2 lines and that was it, and never be a series regular. That was unheard of.
Back to Heavy Boobs: Give yourself a two-minute treat: watch the video. Did you notice that the bag of fat is a clear reference to Fight Club, as male a movie as you might imagine? Maybe Bloom is reminding us that the first rule of heavy boobs is don’t talk about heavy boobs?
Watch a woman use a heavy breast to knock another woman over. Watch Rachel Bloom in a lab coat using astronomical metaphors for breasts.
Heavy boobs: they’re not just for private conversation any more!
Rachel Bloom talks about the backstory on Heavy Boobs and 7 other songs:
The idea for an anthem dedicated to large-breasted women predated the show by many years. “Boobs were more of a burden than sexy for me,” says Bloom. “For a long time I was on the wrong birth control and for half of every month my boobs would be swollen and hurt, so the part of the month that I looked the sexiest I was in pain and I couldn’t run or do much exercise. My breasts were such a burden that I finally went off birth control and they stopped hurting. I thought it was funny that some women are bragging about their body parts, and my boobs are heavy and dense and annoying. How funny would it be to sing: ‘I’ve got them heavy boobs / heavy boobs / dense like dying stars.’” Bloom ultimately decided to partially base “Heavy Boobs” off of “Diva” by Beyoncé, which seamlessly blends rapping and singing. “The idea of doing a song and fetishizing my breasts in a realistic way I thought would be great. It manifested itself in me.”