I will be the first to admit that when I saw this hot mess at The Emmy’s, I cringed a little.
I couldn’t help but think: why can’t she ever just be normal? The hair is juvenile, the makeup is heavy handed, the dress is unflattering and needs to be tailored. John drew the comparison that she looked like The Albino from The Princess Bride (which I will admit made me laugh). But for Lena, this is her normal.
She doesn’t look like a “Hollywood woman” – bronze tan, slim, tall, statuesque – so why on earth would we expect her to dress like one? If she wore a couture gown like the women pictured below we’d still be belittling her style choices, calling her an impostor, a fake, and out of her league for even trying.
So because she looks different, and doesn’t fit the mold of what Hollywood says a woman on the red carpet should look like, we shame her body – saying it’s unattractive, boyish, dumpy, too fat. It’s because she isn’t curvy like Sophia Vergara or pencil thin like Heidi Klum or flawless like Beyonce that we feel the need to attack her appearance and call her out on how much she doesn’t not belong.
Thing is, Lena Dunham doesn’t give a shit if you shame her body. In fact, she doesn’t even care if everyone in the world sees it naked. (When asked why her character Hannah Horvath is naked so often, Lena said “for no reason.” And followed with “It’s because it’s a realistic expression of what it’s like to be alive, I think. And I totally get it if you’re not into me. That’s your problem.”)
Unfortunately Lena being Lena doesn’t shine a light on how far we’ve taken body shaming though, it just shines a brighter light on her own flaws. The tables never turn; no one talks about how unattainable the “Hollywood woman” look is or how physically unhealthy some of these women are. It’s just one more reason, on top of a pile of reasons, why beauty standards in our country are fragmented, unrealistic, and biased.
But this is also why Lena is the perfect body shaming poster girl. She will force you to look at her normal, real, imperfect body every single time she is photographed or filmed without apology. She represents a real twenty-something young woman who has something to say about her generation in a thoughtful and deep way. She will not conform her looks or her style to what Hollywood demands. She refuses to let superficial red carpet walks become bigger than what is truly important, the reason she is at the Emmy’s in the first place: her unique and incredible creation, Girls. You can shame her left, right, and center and she will never care. And that’s why she is the perfect representative for all of us real women, with real bodies, who have been shamed for looking “different.”
Lena wore this cray cray pink dress to the Emmy’s because no matter what she does or wears, people will talk shit about it because it’s not “normal,” it’s “quirky,” she’s “offbeat.” She might as well take a risk, wear something ridiculously fun, and make herself happy, right?