04 Mar 2013

How Lena Dunham Makes Me Feel

34 Comments Personal Crap

I’ve been thinking a whole lot lately about Lena Dunham’s show, “Girls”. Specifically, I’ve been thinking a lot about Lena Dunham and all the nudity.

I know a lot has been written about it, and I think I’ve been spending this time ruminating and deciding how I feel about all the hubbub.

First, I should say that I have watched, and will most likely continue to watch, every episode. When the show first began I was completely enamored, and beyond excited to see a show about, well… Girls. I loved the writing and the dynamics of the characters. I instantly loved Lena as Hannah, and all she represented.

As the show has gone on, I have become less enamored, but no less excited to watch. I still feel there are moments of, if not brilliance, then at least pure relatability, in each episode. There are times I rewind, just to hear a line again, or see an expression. I am in awe of Lena’s early success, her amazing drive, and the fact that she clearly has no fear of “putting it all out there”.

Which brings me to the nudity. Or, partial nudity. Or, wait… Is constant partial nudity just complete nudity? Either way, I want to talk about it.

I think I get what Lena Dunham is doing. And I might be COMPLETELY wrong here. But this is my take. Or maybe I should say, “This is how what Lena Dunham is doing, by showing her body so frequently, has affected me.”

Lena is 26-years-old, and according to everything the media tells us, she is not in “perfect shape”. She is a tad on the pudgy side, clearly not into lifting weights, and seems against plastic surgery to enhance her breasts or suck fat out of her thighs. I know these things because I see her entire body weekly on my television.

At first, I was offended. WHY do I want to see this girl naked?? Then I became bored. Oh, there’s Lena, naked again. Then a lightbulb went off. OH MY GOD, I thought to myself, LENA DUNHAM WANTS US TO KNOW THAT IT’S OKAY TO LOVE YOURSELF!!

Again, I might be reading too much into this. Lena might just like being naked on camera. But I really think her nudity comes with a message. And to me, that message is that we, as women, are not the sum of our body parts. What matters is what our bodies are housing: Our brains, our hearts, our creativity, our passions, our desires, our kindness, our strength. We have little to no control over our bodies, so why should they be what defines us? When I die, will the mourners woefully touch my casket and say, “She looked great in 2011, when she got down to 123 pounds.”?

The point is this: If I had one THIRD of the confidence in myself at 26 that Lena does, I might have been as successful as she is. At the very least, I would have wasted SO MUCH less time complaining about my body. Which, I will say (after years of therapy and a ton of 20/20 hindsight), was pretty fucking spectacular.

Had I had just a scrap of Lena’s “my body does not define me” attitude… Oh the places I could have gone. Or maybe it’s just the opposite. Maybe Lena’s body does define her. Maybe it defines her as a lovely, adorable, perfect woman who is absolutely fine just the way she is. THAT is the point. Why should a woman only be defined by long legs, a flat stomach, perfect breasts, and a perky ass? Few women posses these qualities. Most have short torsos, or torsos that are too long, saggy knees, chunky ankles, one breast bigger than the other, and dimpled skin. And maybe those ARE the things that should define us, at least physically. WE are okay, just the way we are. And it breaks my heart, truly shreds it to pieces, that I am fortyfuckingone years old, and I am just now grasping this. What a waste of years.

Lena scares us, as a society. She’s throwing herself in our faces and saying, “I am enough.” How dare she.

Thanks, Lena. I mean it when I say you might be the reason my feelings about myself are changing. Even if you didn’t have any message to begin with… I got it loud and clear.

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written by
Lisa Arch likes being a working actress... but LOVES being a Mom!

34 Responses to “How Lena Dunham Makes Me Feel”

  1. Reply Ann says:

    I like the nudity because it looks simply more real more like real life. I love what you’re taking from it though, and I bet you’re right.

    I’ve only watched season 1, but I didn’t see a single female body hair. I realize Lena can only push us so far. πŸ™‚

    • Reply flawlessmom says:

      Ann, LOL! Damn! didn’t even THINK of that! Well, thank you for reminding me I still have some issues to deal with. Gotta go find my razor… πŸ˜‰

  2. Reply Allison says:

    Bravo! Wrong network w no balls to air this show I’ve never watched. Laughed reading this blog. Damn, my white girl hang up about inches & weight relating to this topic! I’m with you “inching ” close to 40 to finally say “fuck it to weight, it’s alright” and “I’m good enough” like a Sarah McLachlan song. Good for the “Girl” to spotlight chubby belly for rating’s with topics that “Sex and the City” would never cab ride. Thank you for a Great Monday laugh to start the week off, smart lady you are!!!!

  3. Reply Melisa says:

    So so proud of you. Great post!!!!!! xoxo

  4. Reply Mr. Taint says:

    Let’s not get too crazy. I’ve watched every episode of the show as well and every guy who as ever done any kind of nudity has been in very good, if not great shape. Maybe this is the case of “the shoe is on the other foot”, but as soon as Lena decides she’s going to have sex with a male that is her equivalent when it comes to body type, then I’ll buy into the whole “she’s sending a message” thing. Until then, it seems more like she’s just an exhibitionist and since this is her show, no director or producer is going to tell her “no”.

    • Reply flawlessmom says:

      Mr. Taint, if that is your real name…
      I see your point. But let’s be honest. In the body image game, there’s no contest. We see men of all shapes and sizes on TV and in movies all the time. Not the same standards for women. I think you could admit to that, no?
      And, especially when it comes to nudity, we really only ever see “perfect” female specimens. I’m happy to see a change.

    • Reply Cy says:

      Gotta agree with Taint-y. I think no one loves Lena as much as Lena loves Lena.

      • Reply flawlessmom says:

        Cy, that may or may not be the case. At least she’s using some of that narcissism for good!!! Even if it’s an accident that she’s bringing topics like this to light, I praise her for it. And I don’t think it’s an accident. Sunday night she used her show to bring attention to OCD. I’m a fan.

  5. Reply Nikki says:

    Fantastic. Thought provoking. Excited to read and share.

  6. Reply Irma says:

    “When I die, will the mourners woefully touch my casket and say, β€œShe looked great in 2011, when she got down to 123 pounds.”?”

    Probably the best line I have read in a very long time! I love that show and I, too, am fond of how ballsy Lena is and the fact that her body is now boring to see is a great thing. I was pretty ballsy at her age too, but I also had a baby.

    Curious to see if Lena plans to be as free with showing off her body post-child (if she decides to go that route). If she does, I would be really impressed.

    • Reply flawlessmom says:

      Thanks, Irma! I have a feeling Lena will be free with herself for EVER! I might be wrong, but I have a hunch I’m not. πŸ˜‰

  7. Reply Julie says:

    Magnificent! Never watched it or even heard of it (cable free household) but your thoughts are brilliant and a bit heartbreaking. Good read..

  8. Reply Christine says:

    I haven’t watched any of this current season but I watched season one in a day (maybe I am unconsciously saving them up?) but I think this show is a crack up!!! I love it, I get so tired of the fake glamour and enhanced body parts found elsewhere. I think she takes our fears and insecurities and throws them in our faces…..what’s scary to us is funny to watch happen to someone else.

    • Reply flawlessmom says:

      Christine, aside from a few clunkers, I’m loving this season. Many moments of pure brilliance. Many!!

  9. Reply Kristen says:

    It will never stop amazing me how women continue to put down each others bodies and appearances.

    I’m very happy that you’ve had this realization but even in this post you’ve said some pretty backhanded things about her “less than ideal” body type.
    “clearly not into lifting weights”
    “a bit on the pudgy side”
    “suck the fat off her thighs”
    Glad you finally have a bit of self confidence. Try to bolster that in others too

    • Reply flawlessmom says:

      Kristen, you are 100% right.
      And, I don’t mean to defend myself, but I was just trying to point out that Lena’s body is not in accordance with the definitions of perfection we are all constantly striving to. I wasn’t sure how to do that without pointing out her “flaws”, which I am trying to say are not flaws. It’s a tricky thing to do. But you are right, and I really appreciate the input.

  10. Reply Courtney says:

    I don’t think it’s an accident at all! She’s a smart girl, and I think she knows exactly what’s she’s doing. Let’s hope it has wide reaching effects on our culture and how people view the female body!

  11. Reply Sherry says:

    I gotta say I cringed when I saw her nude. Not because of how she looks, but because I’m a total prude! I think it’s awesome that she has so much confidence. More women need that. Me included. I just had my 42nd birthday and I cut all my hair off. That is like being nude for me and I expected to feel so insecure. I love it. Even though not everyone does. The cashiers at the stores are divided and have told me they like it or they don’t like it and I’m just fine with it.
    Lisa, I see you as an absolutely beautiful person and you’re amazingly talented! You have a wonderful family. Best female example to me πŸ™‚

    • Reply flawlessmom says:

      That’s awesome, Sherry!!! I bet you look great!! Stop being a prude, though. It’s just skin and stuff!! πŸ˜‰

  12. Reply Laura Mashburn says:

    Great post.. We should love ourselves just the way we are. It’s what makes each of us unique.

  13. Reply Virginia Llorca says:

    I don’t get her point. I don’t care for her or the show.

    Why do I have the feeling that if she had a knock-out bod it would be a completely different situation?

    • Reply flawlessmom says:

      I do think it would be a different situation, Virginia. I kind of think that’s the point. We don’t see a lot of Lenas on TV. We do see a lot of knockouts. And, it’s funny, the more I see her, the more beautiful I think she is.

  14. Reply Julie the Wife says:

    Love this post. I mentioned your post in my blog and linked over, hope you don’t mind! I don’t watch the show, long irritating husband story, but I think you are right on with her strategy. First time over here, via Moms Who Drink and Swear, won’t be my last!

    • Reply flawlessmom says:

      Hey Julie! Of course I don’t mind! I’m flattered. Thank you. And thanks for letting me know who sent you! I do hope you come back. πŸ˜‰

  15. Reply tracey says:

    I have never even heard of this show. Guess it’s worth a watch? I will say that some of the best advice I ever heard or read or absorbed was this: In 10 years, you will look back at yourself and say “I looked great at 25/35/45/55! What was I complaining about?”

    I may not look as fabulous as I did pre-children or even 5 years ago, but I feel that I look pretty damn good and will hold onto that, because in another 10 years I will only have MORE gray hair and MORE wrinkles and MORE old-lady-neck going on. Why fret over what I cannot change?

    • Reply flawlessmom says:

      Absolutely right, Tracey. My biggest worries now are just fitting into my jeans. That’s my barometer. Not because I feel fat. But because I feel like NOT BUYING NEW JEANS!!!

  16. Reply Gloria Sollecito says:

    Amen, sister, you totally got it right. Great article this month about Lena in Rolling Stone

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