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.