Lena Dunham Daring To Exist Is Starting This Awful Woman-Shaming Spiral Of Something

2013 HBO Golden Globes PartyUGH, I am going to turn off my computer and crawl into a hole because of this whole Lena Dunham thing.There is a layer to the Lena Dunham thing. The first layer is this conversation about how a woman who dares to be a size eight (Yes, an eight. A size eight, which in real life is medium. Normal. Smaller than normal) dares to take off her clothing on television or who doesn’t dare to hide her size eight/sometimes size six body or something because she is seen wearing shorts or sleeveless tops on occasion. The majority of talk about Lena Dunham – Oberlin graduate, Golden Globe winner, writer, actress- is her appearance.  For the record, Lena Dunham is fucking gorgeous. She is sublime. She is 26-year-old flawless skin and gigantic Bambi eyes and a rosebud mouth and edgy manicures and a cool haircut. Whatever. The girl is lovely.

The next layer of this conversation drags into it the fact that on the last episode of the HBO show Girls, which is Lena’s creation, her character has a weekend fling with a character played by actor Patrick Wilson, so everyone and their dog now needs to discuss this and how “unrealistic” it is and blah blah and they all miss the point but then they bring it back to me, because the next layer of this conversation drags into it Wilson’s real life spouse, Dagmara Dominczyk, and the basic sentiment behind this conversation is “No, of course it’s likely that Patrick Wilson’s character could have a fling with Lena Dunham’s character because have you seen Patrick’s wife?”

From Slate:

or a double-dog dare for me to ask, How can a girl like that get a guy like this? Am I small-minded if I’m stuck on how this fantasy is too much of a fantasy and remembering what Patrick Wilson’s real-life partner looks like?*


And in all of these articles, Wilson’s wife Dagmara gets dragged into the equation because “ and that after two kids and hitting 35 she’s gained a bit of weight” so it makes sense that Wilson’s character would boink Dunham’s character because in real life Wilson is married to a woman who is also not a size zero and on occasion wears a frumpy blouse and has been photographed not wearing airbrushed makeup.

This entire conversation is so soul-destroying.

Lena is gorgeous. Dagmara is gorgeous. These two women are both successful, interesting, smart, accomplished and they both seem like good people. But if the entire world is hell-bent on reducing them to their dress size than what about the rest of us women, who could never even hope to look as lovely as either of these two look on their worst hair days?

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  • alice

    Great article. I love HBO’s GIRLS and, in a way, really love the negative press it’s created. I love it because it’s accidentally become one of the easiest ways to identify a massive douchebag. It’s this amazing litmus test for douche. Guys who can’t stand to watch an episode, because they’re “gagging” at the sight of naked Lena Dunham, are massive douches. Guys who actually VOCALIZE inane douchey shit like “how can *they* let her take her clothes off so much?” are massive douches. Honestly. it’s the perfect measuring stick for dudes you should avoid. Because these are guys (and sometimes girls) who really don’t understand that a naked female body can have a purpose other than “turning you on.” For these incredibly sad, pathetic, losers, the only reason sex scenes exist in film/tv is to provide a fantasy or comedy. Anything in between is offensive.

    And Hannah on GIRLS does have a lot of sex scenes, but they’re purposely not “sexy” scenes, and it has nothing to do with her weight or appearance. It’s *supposed* to be unsexy. It’s filmed thru a non-fantasy, non-gratuitous, lens. It’s filmed like real life: sometimes awkward, self-conscious, maybe unflattering, and always real. If they wanted to make the scenes sexy, they could! But they don’t. and this actually OFFENDS some people!

    All the nudity in GIRLS is like one of those (sadly too rare) moments you find in some films where the hot perfect celebrity actress is briefly shown curled up, with a flash of skin rolls around her stomach. and we go “OH, isn’t that *daring* that this perfect celebrity actress allowed herself to be shown for two seconds in an unflattering pose! So raw! She’s really getting into the role!” zzzzzzzzzzz

    • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

      I LOVE your douche meter. :) I agree totally. and if these women are seen as less than what they are, which is lovely, there is no hope for any of us. UGH

  • AlexMMR

    When I moved to Canada and flipped on the TV, one of my first thoughts was “OMG, they let ugly people be on TV here!” From that moment on, I can see how ridiculous American TV is. According to American TV, I don’t even exist. I’m a fat woman, but not fat enough to be a punchline. Every bar on TV is populated with sexy, skinny, 23 year olds for the main characters to hit on. Apparently women like me have no desire to get a drink from time to time. I’m almost afraid to ever lose weight and become a hot girl because my fat and frumpiness makes me completely invisible to the jerks of the world. How do those pretty girls ever meet a non-douche? Fat is a great douche filter. I may not get hit on, but the few guys who will get to know me are worth getting to know. I’m not sure I ever would have met my awesome husband if there were 20 douches ahead of him in the line of guys trying to hit on me.

  • BlueBelle

    The dialogue surrounding GIRLS and Dunham is mystifying/horrifying. I actually can’t think of anything in the Pop Culture world that has induced the level of (long-term at this point!) rage articulated in articles/blog posts and their subsequent comment sections that Dunham has. Let’s see… there’s the picking her body apart, talking about how she is absolutely NOT the “voice of the generation”, lambasting her for being racist (but refusing to address any other program), talking about how entitled she is (this argument needed to die 50 years ago), and everything else forever and ever, amen. But I don’t understand why? She is doing EVERYTHING the average person has been begging for on paper for years. Now it’s in America’s face and… surprise!… it can’t handle it (or apparently switch the channel away from HBO?).

    I’m not sure what to attribute it to. America’s obsession with celebrity failure? Its often puritanical ways? Rampant insecurity? Jealousy? The ease with which she flawlessly executes episode after episode after episode making it seem as if anyone can do it (but–twist ending!–they can’t!)? I have yet to find one article anywhere that, when trying to discuss why Lena Dunham or GIRLS is [insert criticism here], DOESN’T sound like a whiny, envious bag of crotchety skin wrote it. Seriously unbecoming stuff.

    I love Lena Dunham. I love GIRLS. I love things that push the envelope and aren’t afraid to challenge the norms. And I really loved this article.

    And since criticism is important… Slate is, as a whole, an abomination (minus Prudie).

  • K.

    I don’t get HBO :( so I’ve never seen the show, but I DO know Lena Dunham from interviews and I think she’s quite lovely–both intellectually and physically. All the macho-balls press calls to mind a couple of quotes I remember reading:

    Melissa Rosenberg, screenwriter of “Twilight,” commented that she felt the vitriol surrounding the movies was related to them being specifically female fantasies, because (paraphrasing): “I mean, the “Twilight” films aren’t Oscar material–and they’re not meant to be–but I’ve seen quite a few really, really, REALLY bad action flicks, and I was never accused of actually being ‘stupid’ for seeing them.”

    Meg Ryan once said (to paraphrase, again) that she was in the business of making grown men’s adolescent fantasies come true.

    Sounds about right.

    Maybe I should go out and get HBO just to make a point about the power of the pink pocketbook.

  • Lastango

    “…what about the rest of us women, who could never even hope to look as lovely as either of these two look on their worst hair days? …. (Maybe after lena Dunham) those of us who are even more normal than these well-above normal women can start to feel like we actually deserve to exist on this earth.”

    That’s primal pain. I remember reading a blog post where a woman wrote, “I miss being young and beautiful. I miss being relevant. Women in their (now) 50′s are invisible to society and to men. I miss being valued.”

    I went googling for it, and didn’t find it, but something very close turned up:

    “I hate the feeling that every year I fade a little more — I become less relevant, less visible. It doesn’t matter if it isn’t true, or that it’s a perception I can choose to dismiss. It’s there. It’s depressing.”

    The writer is 38. One of her triggers for feeling like that is being ignored by men.


    Just now I googled “women 50 invisible”. Here’s the link to the search. Watch what comes up.


    But it isn’t just attention from men that goes missing. Here’s a woman who had what she took to be a negating experience from a female cashier at a coffee shop, and felt it like a kick in the gut:


  • janie

    Thank you for taking a stand against all this crazy nonsense
    thrown around about poor Dunham these days! I especially liked how you
    highlighted just how normal her appearance is in real life. It’s a big shame
    that this average size and weight is so controversial by Hollywood standards,
    but I applaud Dunham for sticking to her real self anyways. In fact, I was just
    talking to a few friends from my office at DISH about this, and we think that
    it’s this realness that Dunham unleashes in her show that makes it so addicting
    to watch in the first place! We’ve even grown to be major fans of the show! I’ve
    actually started to record all the older and latest episodes, just to have the
    whole collection on hand to watch whenever. I’m just glad that I’m able to
    store all these episodes on my DVR without affecting anything else I want to
    record, since my DISH Hopper has 450 hours of HD recording space. Dunham’s show
    is too great to delete episodes to make room for new recordings, so it’s nice
    to not have to!

  • http://www.facebook.com/stina.kolling Stina Wargo Kolling

    I have never seen this show; thanks to this article, I’m going to go look for it, because a show with a *normal*-sized woman deserves a look-see.

  • jsterling93

    I’m always stunned when I read the negative stuff about GIRLS. I have gotten a lot of this myself. I’m a size 12 and short. Yep I’m fat. My husband isn’t movie star hot but he is attractive. he makes a 6 figure income in a town where the average family makes $40k and lives well. He is super smart, kind, funny. I am well educated. I work full time at a meaningful job and I am working on my Ph.D. I like to think I’m funny. I know I am kind. And yet people say how “lucky” I am that my husband looks past my size and most women like me could never land a guy like him. Am I cocky for saying I think he was the lucky one? And he thinks Lena is hot.

  • disqus_bhosGL2XMz

    Why is it necessary to do the bit about Wilson’s wife. Some guys like big girls end of statement. BTW size 8 is not big in any form.

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  • http://twitter.com/mydullthoughts Jessica Miller

    Please! There is no way that sow is a size 8… I work alongside women who really are size 8 and above, and Lena is at least a size 16 (if it’s a good day). Size 8 isn’t skinny, but there’s no way in hell it looks like that.

    As for all of you wailing about how you wish you were gorgeous like her, she’s not. So cheer up; you’re better looking! It’s the internet so I have no idea what you look like, but I’d still bet the farm that you look a hell of a lot better than Lena Dunham. Get a bad haircut, some crap tattoos, snaggle up your teeth, and then try to match up.

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