By ROSIE WATERLAND
Apparently Lena Dunham is fat.
Lena Dunham, the lead actress in hit US TV series Girls, seems to have become some sort of poster-girl for fatties because of her shocking decision to be on television and not look like a model at the same time.
She has a normal body (as in, one you’d see walking down the street, not down the runway), and in TV, anything less than model-thin is considered obese.
Therefore, according to many critics, fans and those who just feel the need to comment, she has become ‘a hero to fat people’.
But she’s not my hero. She’s not my poster-girl. There is no universe in which Lena Dunham should be considered a ‘hero’ for fat people. Because Lena Dunham is not fucking fat. Not even close.
She is my hero in so many other ways. She’s smart, hilarious and talented. She’s achieved the career of my dreams and at 26, she’s less than a month older than me. Girl’s got skill.
But every time I hear her referred to as some sort of ‘champion for big girls’, my heart sinks a little. Because if she’s considered fat – the absolute exception to the rule when it comes to someone being allowed on a TV show that doesn’t have obesity as the running ‘we’re acknowledging the literal elephant in the room’ gag (Mike and Molly, Drop Dead Diva, Fat Actress…) – then we have a pretty messed up perspective of what being ‘fat’ actually means.
Does she look like what 99% of other actresses in the entertainment industry look like? No. She has a healthy body that hasn’t been dieted and toned like her life depends on it. She has flesh that doesn’t display her ribs like they’re some kind of trophy. I completely appreciate how out of place that makes her on television and I think that means we need many more like her.
But fat? No way.
If you want to know what fat actually looks like, it’s me. I’m fat. I am 75kgs overweight. That probably makes me (at least) double the size of the woman I’m supposed to be admiring as someone who has become successful in television ‘in spite of her size’. And let me tell you: that is really depressing.
I’ve written about how I got to this size and how it affects my life so I won’t go into that here. I am an obese 26-year-old woman; that is my reality at this moment in time.
And as a person who is dealing with the shame, discrimination and feelings of absolute worthlessness that come from actually being obese in a beauty-obsessed society, when I hear people call Lena Dunham fat (even the actress herself jokes about it), I want to scream.
Because being bigger than a supermodel is not the same thing as being fat. Your thighs not being the same width all the way up is not the same thing as being fat. Having love handles is not the same thing as being fat.
To use the word ‘fat’ like it means the same thing as the words ‘not skinny’ is an incredibly dangerous game to play. BECAUSE NOT BEING SKINNY IS NOT THE SAME THING AS BEING FAT.
Not that long ago, when I was a much smaller size, I would have never understood that concept. I was one of the people who thought you were either fat or you were slim. I remember when I first started gaining weight and I hit 80 kilos, I was devastated. I thought I was disgusting. I wouldn’t wear sleeveless tops. I wouldn’t go to the beach. I wouldn’t even let my boyfriend look at my naked body.