The Pro-Girl Girl from “Girls”
The writer, director and star of “Girls” is the voice of our generation as the ideal role model for any twenty-something female.
By Olivia Wickstrom, Portland State University
Who here follows Lena Dunham on Instagram?
If you don’t, here are some examples of what one could typically expect to see in their news feed on any given day: You could see her new ass tattoo of her favorite New York restaurant’s logo, there might be a photo of her negative pregnancy tests in a Walgreens bathroom and you may even find her extremely unflattering paparazzi pictures on the streets of New York. Dunham’s Instagram is the best representation of her personality and media image: Unexpected, controversial and never giving a fuck.
The star, writer and director of “Girls” is publicly known for her alternative attitude and feminist values. The media is crammed with her newest and most outlandish displays of support for Hillary Clinton and Planned Parenthood. But Dunham doesn’t get off easy, she receives plenty of criticism for her “no fucks to give” attitude channeled in interviews, on television and through social media platforms. She recently made headlines with her appearance on “Late Night With Seth Meyers” where she discussed a recent injury she sustained while filming “Girls,” more specifically from filming a sex scene. Now all the “Girls” fans here will snicker and laugh because we know sex scenes are about 75 percent of the show itself. But some critics, such as Chrissy Johnson from “Chicks on the Right,” didn’t find the injury so humorous.
Johnson opens her article by claiming, “I shouldn’t expect anything else from a disgusting hag who can’t keep her own pants on at any given moment. She’s like my two-year old nephew, except my nephew has the decency to at least keep his diaper on while he’s toddling around with no clothes on.” Okay, I get that Dunham isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but does she really deserve this much judgment?
I’ll give it to Johnson, there is a lot of nudity in “Girls,” specifically a nude Lena Dunham, but humans are also regularly nude in real life. We shower, we have sex, we sleep naked. “Girls” strives to give a realistic depiction of females in their twenties, the years filled with failed relationships, sexuality and experimentation. “Girls” strives to remind us of something so obviously true: Females get naked. But Johnson clearly disagrees as she closes the article with an even harsher statement: “I wish I had words to described how disgusting I find Lena Dunham, but they do not exist in the tongues of moral humans.”
This isn’t the only nasty critique Dunham has received. Perhaps the most insulting and shocking came from “New York Post” writer Linda Stasi in 2013 after season two of “Girls” was released. Instead of actually criticizing the new season, the article was spent blatantly shit-talking Dunham’s body and appearance. In fact the piece was so offensive, it can no longer be found on the “New York Post” website. Stasi described Dunham as having “giant thighs, a sloppy backside and small breasts” and characterized her build as a “blobby body.”
But Stasi’s insults are what I love about Dunham, she’s imperfect. She’s flawed and not exactly what you would consider typical “mainstream” beauty to be. She’s not the thinnest, her teeth are crooked and she’s covered in tattoos; but Dunham is real, and that to me is true beauty, a beauty that the media needs. Not only the media, it’s what young girls need. Women’s late teens and early twenties are filled with insecurity and social pressures. Dunham reminds us that it’s okay to be different; it’s okay if you don’t look like Angelina Jolie on a “Cosmopolitan” magazine cover.
In March, Dunham announced that she’d no longer allow retouched photos of herself to be released in the media. After seeing (and not recognizing) herself on the cover of a Spanish magazine, she made the decision. Dunham claimed, “My chin was strong and defined, practically another continent from my neck, and my legs and arms were lean and milky white instead of their usual mottled pink… I wanted to tell people, loudly: ‘That’s not my body!’”
Shortly after, Dunham partnered with “Girls” co-star Jemima Kirke in a “body positivity” campaign for New Zealand-based lingerie company “The Lonely Label.” The company is known for its un-retouched photo-shoots and strives “to showcase women wearing underwear in a way that we usually don’t see in mainstream advertising and the media.” The photo-shoot does just this. Dunham and Kirke aren’t posed in “sexy” or “alluring” positions; you can see folds in their stomachs and cellulite in their thighs and other than red lipstick, their complexion is free of makeup. But why are folds and cellulite “bad;” who says we have to have a face full of bronzer and blush and mascara in the first place? It’s our natural body, why must it be covered up and camouflaged, even though we all know the underlying truth? As Dunham says: “This body is the only one I have. I love it for what it’s given me. I hate it for what it’s denied me. And now, without further ado, I want to be able to pick my own thigh out of a lineup.”
So to those women thinking, “This bitch is crazy,” when they see Lena Dunham on the news, I strongly urge you to think twice. She may be somewhat outspoken, slightly “chubby” and at times outright ridiculous. But most importantly, Dunham is passionate; passionate about portraying real women in her work, about giving females a source of inspiration and about advocating for women in politics and the media. Dunham does what so many female celebrities won’t: She takes risks. She makes statements that receive backlash and criticism, but they are actions that make her more human and more relatable to her female followers.
So to the woman taking a pregnancy test in the drugstore bathroom: No shame, Lena Dunham has done it too.