If boobs could speak, what would they say? Breast Friends is a hysterical animation on Western beauty standards

London-based animator Caitlin Young treats us to a laugh out loud adventure of mean inner monologues, and that fundamental question: Am I a bad feminist?

9 March 2020


For a long time, the animator Caitlin Young wanted to make a film about the immense pressure faced by women to conform to Westernised standards of beauty. It’s a topic that personally resonates with the recent Royal College of Art graduate, who, as a young woman, has struggled to comply with certain expectations in order to feel accepted.

“When I started this project,” she tells It’s Nice That of her rib-tickling animation aptly titled Breast Friends, “I identified two conflicting narratives within myself.” While on the one hand, Caitlin sees herself as a feminist, there is also a part of her which feels like she has to perform in a certain way dictated by the male gaze, causing feelings of inadequacy. Channelling these two voices into two distinct and fantastic characters – the protagonist’s breasts – Caitlin’s compelling story was born.

Growing up in the outskirts of London, during her school years, the young creative was more interested in fashion than animation. She split her free time evenly between making clothes for her friends and drawing, until becoming fully obsessed with drawing while studying for her A-Levels. Eventually, it led her to animation, but her characteristic style never lost its influential roots in fashion. “Having spent a lot of time stuck, looking at a blank page trying to come up with something polished,” she adds on the matter, “the process of making moving image felt so liberating. Being able to not only use images but also words and sounds to execute an idea, makes you feel as if the outcomes are infinite.”

Painstakingly, Caitlin crafts whole new worlds filled with personality in her animations. She considers the minutest of details, from the tinkling noises in the background to the interior design of the space. “Making all these kinds of decisions on a daily basis while making Breast Friends taught me so much about my practice, you really get to feel things out,” says the animator. “I feel like making a film is like making hundreds of smaller pieces and working them to fit into one big, finished piece.”

Fun, feminine, soft, and sometimes a little bit weird, Breast Friends is everything you could want on International Womxn’s Day and also on Valentines Day. And, come to think of it, basically every other day of the year too. It’s hilarious with just the right level of irony while being tongue-in-cheek all at the same time. Her work hasn’t always been in this realm, however. For a long time, Caitlin goes on to tell us, “I was making much more serious work and then at some point, I just realised that I didn’t feel like it had my personality in it.” So now, even if she’s interested in portraying a topic that isn’t inherently funny, she does her best to bring her personality to light through the work; something that is clearly exemplified in the utterly engaging Breast Friends.

Utilising comedy through a hilarious script, ingenious timing and witty characters, Caitlin uses humour to tell a “slice of life” narrative. It’s an original form of storytelling that came about during the research stage, when Caitlin found she couldn’t relate to many stories around female beauty. “I felt that a lot of the world that has come out of that topic is more about female empowerment or women overcoming their issues. While that kind of work completely has its own place,” says the animator, “I felt like, as someone who hasn’t ever managed to overcome such issues, I can’t identify with it.”

In turn, she wanted to create something in a unique domain that has its own place. “I decided I wanted to make something that was relatable to others that have suffered from low self-esteem and have a loud and mean inner monologue.” Juxtaposing this element of criticism with bright bold colours which uplift the film, Caitlin finds a balance between hitting hard in communication while also keeping the tone light, playful and comedic. The animator concludes on this topic: “I felt that if you could watch the film and smile or laugh, then the concept of the film would come after. And in a way, be more powerful.”

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About the Author

Jyni Ong

Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor.

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