In the past week Lena Dunham's body has been In Your Headlines more than usual—with one TV critic questioning how often she gets naked on her show Girls, followed by the release of her Vogue spread, which some believe was Photoshopped (Jezebel is currently offering $10,000 for untouched images).
Right as her show was about to premiere in 2012 we had a chance to sit down with Dunham, and a portion of that interview, which we never ran, was about body image. It was clear even then that she was determined to put herself out there, not just for a TV show, but to shift a cultural conversation, to change how females are portrayed on screen, to offer fresh commentary on womanhood, and maybe even to help those struggling with their own body image.
Below were her thoughts, expressed right before her body was about to be put under an international microscope, beneath which it remains two years later. That is not something many would be able to handle with such grace, nevermind a 20-something. So, from the archives...
How have you managed to avoid the self conscious pitfall that every other girl seems to have fallen into? I mean the short answer is I haven't, but for some reason it just doesn't manifest in my work. Like, believe me, in all of my romantic relationships I'm like, "Does he want to be dating a girl who's a size 0? Do you like my body? Is it just that you like my mind, and so you think that my body...? Or is just that you don't like me at all?" But somehow in my work that self consciousness hasn't manifested.
I mean, I am comforted by the fact that I find a real range of female bodies beautiful, and I hope that other people do too. And even if they don't find it beautiful I hope they're just glad that something like it is happening on TV. I'm totally prepared... my much smaller media experience with Tiny Furniture kind of prepared me for the fact that my body was more of a conversation topic than I ever imagined it would be.
And I have... it's funny, I have sort of a Zen body philosophy, I'm sort of like: we're one weight one day, we're one weight another day, and some day our body just doesn't even exist at all! It's just a vessel I've been given to move through this life. I think about my body as a tool to do the stuff I need to do, but not the be all and end all of my existence. Which sounds like I spent a week at a meditation retreat, but it's genuinely how I feel.
I'm so used to seeing a size 0 on TV, and I'm just never gonna be that size. No matter what I do... Me either! Just the way I'm shaped, I see pictures of myself when I'm a little kid, when I was tiny, my hips started really high, it's just what I'm shaped like.
But watching Tiny Furniture, I was like "wow, a 23 year old is kind of teaching me to be comfortable with my body... That means so much to me. Like the most meaningful thing to me. To me, the thing that breaks my heart, like when I babysat a five year old who told me that she needs to go on a diet.
It's... it's something we talk about a lot in my family because I had a grandfather who has since passed away, but who was really obese. My dad just talks about how he had this lifelong struggle—he was a handsome man, and a smart man, with this struggle to deal with and accept what he looked like. And my dad was like, "Nothing breaks my heart more than when I hear my daughter say 'I'm fat,'" and I think, if I can do anything, as cliche as it sounds, to aid in the comfort of a woman accepting her form, then I want to do that.
I think every girl that's a little curvy can tell you it doesn't stop you from having sex, it doesn't stop you from doing anything, unless you decide you should hide in a shame pit because you don't look like a Victoria's Secret Angel.