I walked onto a set about a year ago and was quickly whisked off to wardrobe to be fitted for a dress for the scene I was about to shoot. As I undressed, the wardrobe stylist looked me up and down and said (in a sorority girl delivery) “awwww, your breasts are so cute “.
Did I hear that correctly? Surely not. Cute? Cute?! Of all the adjectives I would like to hear used to describe my breasts, cute is probably not in the ballpark of what you want to go with, if you are trying to buddy up to me. Not to mention, I was there to be sexy – and damnit, I was sexy, not cute!
For the record, my breasts may be small – but they are mighty. I’m very happy with them. I grew up as a dancer, and I have always loved a ballet dancers sleek, streamlined figure. I find nothing as sexy as the sensuality, grace and strength dancers have. I feel sexy, powerful and fierce when I am in fighting form. I happen to love my body. That doesn’t mean I don’t see a million flaws that I am constantly battling, but I know when I am focused and working out and treating myself well, I am grateful and happy with what I was given….including my delicious ‘A’ cups. And even after moving to Hollywood where the impression is that you need “Double D’s” to get attention, I still feel the same way. It never crossed my mind to wish for a bigger rack. I’m sure I’ve lost out on some roles, but not roles that truly appeal to me.
None the less, breasts do play a big role in my work life. I was recently discussing with friends, the on-screen adventures my breasts have had through various characters and wardrobe. While I haven’t done nudity, I’m endlessly fascinated by the illusions that we can create for film and television. How we design characters to appeal to an audience or to tell their story through their look.
Enter Livia stage left:
Holy Boobs Batman! I was floored, truly flabbergasted looking in the mirror at my Xena wardrobe fitting. The wardrobe department were miracle workers and savvy architects! I had these massive breasts out of nowhere. I found them to be ridiculous and also loved flaunting this powerful new tool I didn’t normally have. [ I also clearly remember the awkward phone call with my Dad who asked if I had surgery after watching my first episode. Doh! ]
When I mentioned my amazement at my décolletage to Lucy Lawless, she joked that the actresses on the show have generally the same length hair, same skin tone and same breast size…because upon arrival, the magic machine that was the vanities department on Xena transformed you with hair extensions, body make up (we were all various non-human shades of “Barbie!”) and spectacular bras and padding to make us as visually appealing as we were skilled with our weapons (which was also a cool illusion).
Foolishly, I made the rookie mistake of reading online feedback about my debut on the series. This was my first experience with online criticism and the venom that online anonymity can encourage. It was a lesson immediately learned: Its none of my business what you think of me. I have to put my best (breasts?) out there and let it go. The opinions of others can’t determine your satisfaction with your work (or with your appearance).
This aside is applicable to my cup size because I had a mini-meltdown upon returning to New Zealand and getting a new set of wardrobe – without the massive padding. Had my characters new found religious fervor somehow deflated her bosom? Not sure. Normally I would not have batted an eye and just rolled with it….but after my recent reading of message boards and reviews, all I could think of was how many people would potentially be discussing and critiquing my body, my private space – and I was (to my horror!) suddenly in full blown tears while standing in the wardrobe room being pinned into my costume. I had no personal interest in having big tata’s….but I didn’t want the sudden absence of them to create the opportunity for a renewed focus on my body by thousands of very vocal people online. I just felt too vulnerable. The wardrobe department and I talked about continuity and for better or for worse, as you can tell from the pictures, the rack was back!
I have since grown a thicker skin (as is obvious from this boob blog). You MUST have a sense of humor as an actor. You are a tool, a prop. (As is your cleavage.) The fun and occasional frustration of that fact, comes from your appearance and how it is used. It makes each audition and each job a bit more of an adventure and is sometimes nerve-wracking or frightening when you are forced to use a flaw you would rather hide. I’m lucky, in that I’m a bit of a chameleon on screen, playing a wide range of looks from buttoned up and demure to wild and crazy. I love that I can represent so many types of women and turn femininity on its head by tweaking the presentation. It always amuses me that Hollywood seems to want to categorize you when we all know the work itself is about creating illusions – and that very few women fall into 1 stereotype.
Career wise, my chi-chi’s have now gone on to have a diverse career in their own right:
In real life I never wear a padded bra…i hate it. It feels foreign, uncomfortable and not like me.
….but I am endlessly fascinated by the illusion one can create with wardrobe in every day life too. Two photo examples below – these were taken less than 45 minutes apart at the same photo shoot. And bras weren’t even involved. #Wow.
Oh, and I’m fully clothed in this shot. Jeans, sneakers and a strapless shirt. Only my shoulders are bare….but that’s the beauty of illusion.
I heard a semi-celebrity spout on TV the other day that she couldn’t understand why anyone would remove their implants. She couldn’t imagine the prudish hell that must be living with small breasts. I laughed out loud at this. Trying to compartmentalize sex appeal or womanhood down to one body part is, to be blunt- idiotic. I can certainly ‘bring it’ as much as any augmented blonde. The beautiful thing about women is how different and dynamic they are…and that applies to their minds, personalities, and bodies as well. Fake breasts are not my thing. Voluntary surgery freaks me out and feels like a slippery slope. But I firmly believe that everyone should do what is best for them. I have friends with implants, who love them. I also have friends who regretted getting them. I’m lucky to have an amazing group of women friends who span a tremendously diverse array of shapes, sizes, types, etc. What I love most about them is they each feel 100% authentic. They have worked to be completely, fully themselves. The amusing irony of life is it sometimes takes enhancements to reach that – and we all have different forms of enhancement – if not breasts, maybe its tattoos or piercing or even a haircut or the clothes you wear…. We get to create ourselves in this life – each of us is our own make up artist, wardrobe stylist, writer, producer and director. We all star in and create our own story.
The lesson: Love what you are given. Celebrate it. Work with what you’ve got (you’d be surprised what all you can do!). Or If you are certain making a bigger change will make you feel that much better – go for it….but make sure that change is not masking something else but helping you create fully who you truly are. Nothing is sexier than a woman who loves herself completely – and no amount of exterior ‘enhancements’ can change the truth of that. There is nothing sexier than true confidence. Nothing more attractive than real happiness. And that comes from inside – not out.
P.S. I like your t*ts in that top. 😉