Friday, March 14, 2014

On Why I Totally Get Lena Dunham

Lena Dunham's character Hannah on "Girls" reminds me of America Ferrera's character Ana on "Real Women Have Curves." Her body is a response to society's message to women, especially young women, that you have to have a tiny thin body to be accepted as beautiful.

(Me at 18 going to my prom with my childhood friends. I thought I was so fat.
I wish I weighed that much now)

I've quoted Ana from "Real Women Have Curves" in past blogs because I can really relate to her character. At the end of the movie Ana takes off all her clothes and stands in front of her mother in her bra and panties and says, “Mama, I do want to lose weight but part of me doesn’t, because my weight says to everybody, ‘Fuck you!’ How dare anyone tell me what I should look like or how I should be, when there’s so much more to me than just my weight?”

I love that part but it takes Ana to the very end of the movie to do that and to really speak up about her mother's criticism of her body. Lena Dunham does that with her character in her show GIRLS almost every single week.

I picked up the April issue of Glamour because Dunham was on the cover. I had already seen the fabulous pictures (untouched or not) of her in Vogue. The photos in Glamour are so beautiful too and the interview with Sheila Heti is great!

I think that this was Dunham's best response to the questions about her "nakedness." She said, "As teenagers our bodies become a signal of how good we are or how much worth we have.....To make my body a prop in my work gave it a value I didn't feel it had before. Life's too short for me to explain why it's OK for me to be naked on the show."

That's it. Period. She has used her body as a prop in her work and has given it value.

I have never made my struggle with weight and with my body size a secret. It's been my life-time struggle. Now that I'm older I'm worried even more about my health and even less about my vanity but I must admit there is a little bit of vanity involved. I can really connect to what Lena Dunham says. I was that teenager who thought she was too fat because she wasn't as thin as her friends. I can also understand Ana's character in "Real Women Have Curves" because for a long time I felt that way. I refused to conform to how society thought I should look rather than to accept me for my mind.

But oh how I wish I could go back to my 18 year old self in the picture above and I would have told myself, "You are just fine the way you are. Love yourself for your health and stay this size, but you ARE NOT fat! You are worth so much more."

I have had my ups and downs on being comfortable with my body and with my nudity as I've gotten older. I still have a problem being completely naked in front of someone. I have been known to wear a tank top to hide my middle section. I do wear a bathing suit with a little skirt, but the way I see it at least I wear a bathing suit. I know people who have missed out on the joy of being on a beach in a bathing suit just because they are worried about what other people think of them.

Life is too short! I always remember the topless old ladies in Europe. They didn't need a Lena Dunham to tell them it was okay to love their body. They were happy with themselves and with their life.

So this weekend when I'm on the beach for Spring Break I will be comfortable in my own body and in my bathing suit. I'll walk on the beach with my kids and I'll OWN IT! My body has value! It's mine.

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