Dunham has stirred up controversy in the past with her troubling brand of feminism, and her latest collaboration seems equally misguided. (Image via The New York Times)

Lena Dunham Has Found Her Way Back Into the Middle of Yet Another Controversy

The ‘Girls’ creator admitted to being the brains (or lack thereof) behind a sweatshirt that read ‘Being fat is not beautiful it’s an excuse.’

Thoughts x
Dunham has stirred up controversy in the past with her troubling brand of feminism, and her latest collaboration seems equally misguided. (Image via The New York Times)

The ‘Girls’ creator admitted to being the brains (or lack thereof) behind a sweatshirt that read ‘Being fat is not beautiful it’s an excuse.’

After admitting that she was involved in the designing of a fat-shaming sweatshirt the company Revolve released last week, Lena Dunham, the queen of controversy, is back in the middle of another scandal.

The sweatshirt, which reads: “Being fat is not beautiful it’s an excuse,” was met with a huge amount of obvious backlash. The sweatshirt was also priced at a whopping $168. The clothing retailer removed the design from the website on Thursday and tried to say that the “Quotes within the collaboration were shocking, which was entirely the point,” but people weren’t happy with that excuse, especially once Lena Dunham’s involvement was discovered.

Lena Dunham
Dunham helped collaborate on the text design of a sweatshirt that ostensibly attacked fat women and was modeled by skinny women. (Image via Stylish Curves)

On Thursday, Dunham posted on Instagram announcing that she helped come up with the slogans. Dunham’s argument was that the offensive message on the sweatshirt was misinterpreted, and that it was Revolve’s fault for modeling them on “thin white women.” Dunham also said that she was trying to empower women by giving them opportunity to wear their “internet trolling and abuse” on a shirt. It is unclear if this was the legitimate intention or just a cover up, but either way, this is not how the clothing line was interpreted.

Dunham’s apology may have been taken more seriously if she had a different history with controversies. Unfortunately, Dunham has been involved in problematic content regularly.

View this post on Instagram

For months I’ve been working on a collaboration with my friend Pia’s company LPA through its parent company @revolve – sweatshirts that highlight quotes from prominent women who have experienced internet trolling & abuse. This is a cause very close to my heart and the proceeds were meant to benefit charities that help young women by empowering them to express themselves through writing and art. Without consulting me or any of the women involved, @revolve presented the sweatshirts on thin white women, never thinking about the fact that difference and individuality is what gets you punished on the Internet, or that lack of diversity in representation is a huge part of the problem (in fact, the problem itself.) As a result, I cannot support this collaboration or lend my name to it in any way. This isn’t meant to shame Pia or the great work she’s done with LPA. I am deeply disappointed in @revolve’s handling of a sensitive topic and a collaboration rooted in reclaiming the words of internet trolls to celebrate the beauty in diversity and bodies and experiences that aren’t the industry norm. *** I’d like to especially extend my love and support to @palomija, whose quote was the first to be promoted and mangled. She’s a hero of mine. Like me, she gave her quote in good faith and shared her vulnerability in order to support arts education and to spread her message of empowerment, and she wasn’t consulted in the marketing. Not an ounce of negativity should be sent her way. *** My only goal on this planet is to empower women through art and dialogue. I’m grateful to every woman who shared a quote and so disappointed that our words were not honored. As a result, I will be making a donation to the charity of every woman’s choice who was wronged with me and I hope that @revolve will join me with a contribution of their own. *** P.S. This Rubens painting makes me happy because it’s about women joining in love, but he didn’t recognize diversity at all- he just loved curvy butts. Problematic fave.

A post shared by Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) on

In the past, Dunham has been known for building a brand around “feminism,” but only when it’s convenient to her. As a quick recap for past Dunham controversies, she once called an actress a liar after the woman accused a “Girls” writer of sexual assault. Another time she said she “wished she could have an abortion” so she could know what it was like, which offended many women who had gone through the experience. She has also been accused of primarily casting white people in her shows, and of racist remarks. Those are just a few of Dunham’s “finest” moments.

In response to Dunham’s newest offensive comments, many people took to Twitter to express their surprise, or lack thereof. As one Twitter user said, “Whaaaat wait wait… Lena Dunham is involved in this? And she’s blaming solely Revolve? Lord.” Another user simply said, “My reaction when I found out Lena Dunham was a part of that badly marketed LPA x Revolve collaboration (pretends to be shocked).”

In response to the controversy, Dunham has vowed to only wear size-inclusive designers in all upcoming appearances. Revolve has also decided to donate $20,000 to “Girls Write Now.” Dunham also recently said in a Rolling Stone interview, “I’m really not as bad as everybody thinks I am!” The fact that she needs to introduce herself like that speaks more loudly than her words themselves.

Dunham is a perfect example of a “white feminist” who gives others a bad name. With her picking and choosing when she wants to represent and empower women, she is turning her back to important issues and minorities. It’s not possible to represent women only when you want to, and only when those women fit your guidelines.

Instead of just posting more apologies, Dunham needs to change her actions, so she no longer needs to apologize for things. How anyone thought putting “Being fat is not beautiful, it’s an excuse” would be empowering to women is unfathomable, almost as unfathomable as how Dunham continues to be caught in the middle of controversy after controversy, without realizing her mistakes.

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Rebecca Crosby

American University


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