Of Breasts and Guitars
This isn’t about what you think it is…
Ok, it is, but not exactly. I am sure you are aware of the grossly sexed-up instrument ads that feature buxom bikini blonds selling you the latest guitar, amp, or pedal FX. Like this ad for example. ‘Cause you know, nothing says this thing is awesome than double DDs in your face. Much like car ads with waify models spread upon them, or beer ads that proclaim you will get laid by this hot babe if you down this particular ale, advertising relies heavily on sexualized and objectified (heterosexual) feminine bodies to persuade you to buy their product. See Gender Ads for a complete work on the subject.
However, this post isn’t exactly about that. It’s about breasts, yes, but about those players who actually have them and play the instrument, not merely are advertising tools.
Anyways, so what do I mean? Well, as a guitar player, who is quite endowed on the top half, just simply playing your guitar can be uncomfortable and require some adjustments. Unless you can literally play your guitar so low that it hits your knees, you probably need to wear your guitar somewhere around your hips to waist. If you have double DDs for example, the guitar strap either has to squeeze right in between your breasts, or over one of them, causing a bit of a squish, if you will. Your breasts then are either extremely obvious with the guitar strap nestled in between them as you play, or, your breast hurts because it is being suffocated as you belt out how much you love rock and roll. It’s tough being a girl, and all we wanna do is have fun. (Sorry, couldn’t resist that.)
Ok, you say. So, why don’t you just play sitting down then? Great question! Similar problem. Consider acoustic guitars for example. You know the classic dreadnought shape, and most are quite sizable. They usually have to be to get rich tone. Sit down with one as a large-breasted woman, and again, adjustments are needed. You can either hold the guitar in front of you, covering your top, but yet again, squishing as you lean over to play, or as I have done before, try to fandangle one breast to sit in the curve of the guitar and the other behind it. Ok, it’s not the most rockstar pose. Frankly it’s weird, annoying, and again, makes playing your instrument while having to worry about how you appear painfully obvious.
It’s bad enough that women as performers have to be constantly aware of their appearance, both sexually and physically, without then having to worry if they can play their instrument without more googley-eyed stares. Looks come before talent in much of our culture, and female artists have to balance between their own personal desires when it comes to their appearance, and what everyone else expects of them to look like. Add on to that, playing your instrument in a somewhat comfortable manner.
Part of the reason I play the guitars/basses that I do is because they are cut a certain way, and are smaller in size, aiding in the whole breast thing. But, as I think of what it means to boob-out as I rock out, I can’t imagine the fears of some of the female drummers I know. You think it’s bad playing a guitar, your whole body moves up and down when you beat those drums! Up and down! It’s like you need a special June Cleaver girdle to keep yourself from having a wardrobe malfunction. When I began my rock and roll journey, people told me I’d have to dodge soda cans on stage, the occasional thong, and maybe hotel room keys. No one ever mentioned having to dodge my own body.
Some of these things are not thought of nor discussed because we assume the default guitar player or drummer is male. On top of that, usually quite slender too. I’d bet you’d never see an article in Rolling Stone about the physicality (read male) norms associated with instrument usage would you? Probably not. Bringing female musicians voices to the table gives us a unique and more accurate representation of how they navigate the music field and what specific challenges they face. In this instance, playing their instruments.
So, to you fellow lady-rockers out there who are fully aware of their female bodies as they play, what have your experiences been? Any tips, suggestions, or horror stories? What about playing your instrument while pregnant? What do you do then? Or what if you’ just don’t have rock hard abs (pretty much most of us)? I’d love to hear from you!
Posted on January 25, 2011, in Pick Guards - Music Analysis and tagged Appearance, Bass, Breasts, Comfort, Drums, Female Artists, Female Bassists, Female Drummers, Female Guitarists, Female Musicians, Gender, Gendered Instruments, Guitar, Instruments, Looks, Mobility, Music, Performing, Physical, Sex, The Body, Women, Women Musicians. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.