Lena Dunham has made quite a name for herself in the last year. As the writer, director, and star of the hit HBO show Girls, Dunham has been the focus of much critique over the last several months. While some of the commentary does manage to discuss the actual merits of her talent, an awful lot of it seems to be about one particular thing: her affinity for being naked. And more specifically, her affinity for being naked even though she does not have society's idea of a perfect body.
As a woman, it's been really interesting to watch this conversation unfold. There has always been an unspoken understanding in American culture that women whose bodies are deemed to be attractive are welcome, and even encouraged, to wear less clothing and those whose bodies are deemed to be less attractive (read: larger) should wear more. It's not necessarily something we talk about, but the general public seems to be collectively uncomfortable with the idea of a woman with real curves being naked. And even if they weren't, Dunham does an excellent job of putting herself in some of the least flattering positions and situations to really drive the point home.
I am utterly in awe of Lena Dunham. I have always been relatively confident about my body. I have never had much of an issue with self-esteem or my own sexuality. Inside the confines of my own bedroom, I have had no difficulty with being undressed. But I couldn't do what she does. I couldn't be that naked - that vulnerable - in front of that many people, and be that comfortable. Each time I watch one of Dunham's sex scenes I wonder how it is possible for her to be that willing and able to completely ignore society's parameters. I applaud her and I support her and I'm even grateful for what she's doing, but I don't understand how she's able to do it.
So what's my point? Why am I writing about this on a mom blog? What does this have to do with parenting? Well, quite possibly, everything. I don't know what kind of parents Lena Dunham has. And I don't know what her life experiences have been leading her to where she is today. But someone, somewhere made her feel like who she is is exactly who she's supposed to be. I want to know who did what for Lena Dunham that instilled her with this incredible and seemingly unshakeable confidence. I want to sit down with her for fifteen minutes and ask her how it is that she got to be the way she is. I want to know what I can do for my own children that might lead them to a place where they are able to utterly ignore the opinions of almost everybody and just be themselves.
Say what you want about Lena Dunham, her mere existence is a win for humanity. I've always believed that no one can hurt us if we love ourselves enough, but I've never seen the point made more clearly than with Dunham. As a mother, my goal from the beginning has been to not just love my child(ren) but to help them love themselves. After watching Girls and the firestorm of reactions, I now, more than ever, understand why this is so very important.