By MIA FREEDMAN
A few chapters into reading Lena Dunham‘s hugely hyped book, Not That Kind Of Girl during my recent holidays, I breathlessly texted the Mamamia team:
A debate quickly escalated via text and even though nobody else had read the book – just an excerpt – opinion was already divided. This is how it goes with Lena Dunham, and any other famous, out-spoken woman who pushes boundaries. But particularly Lena Dunham.
She’s polarising. And as someone who is also often described as polarising, I understand a fraction of how odd that can be and I empathise.
So I don’t want to make the mistake of projecting a bunch of stuff onto Lena Dunham’s book that has nothing to do with her. She is ground-breaking and amazing. She should not have to carry the burden of every hope and expectation of every woman and minority group in the Western world.
Wait, I’m getting ahead of myself and you’re probably lost and some of you may be wondering who Lena Dunham is. I’ll rewind.
Dunham is the 28 year old creator of the hit US series Girls, now in its 3rd season. She writes, produces, directs and stars in the show which is a comedy-drama hybrid (heavier on comedy) about the life of four friends in their twenties who live in New York and are trying to get their shit together.
This is a huge deal. For a young woman – hell, ANY WOMAN – to have that level of control and power in an industry that has always been run by men? Magnificent.
But when you break ground you instantly become a lightning rod for criticism and debate and so it goes. Dunham’s parents are both artists and she grew up in a fairly wealthy household – designer Zac Posen used to be her childhood babysitter.
She has often been accused of being privileged (although how that is her fault or anything that she could change is never made clear by those who hurl the word as a criticism) and there has also been loud pushback from those who feel upset that there is no African American character among the four lead actors in Girls (despite the fact there were no African American characters on Seinfeld, Friends or Sex & The City either and their creators weren’t slammed).
Perhaps the most visible way Lena Dunham has changed the game is with her body. It doesn’t conform to the literally narrow standards of What’s Hot that every other actress in Every other film or tv show must abide by.
The vast majority of women may look much more like Lena Dunham than Sofia Vergara but it’s skinner bodies that form the wallpaper of pop culture.
Not only is Dunham larger than a size 0, she ‘FLAUNTS’ (the media’s choice of word, not mine) her perfectly lovely body in Girls during sex scenes and in swimming costumes and underwear. That makes a lot of people uncomfortable.