Okay, fair warning: I am not Lena Dunham’s biggest fan. Let’s just say I have my reasons and leave it at that.
However, I’m not blind, and I cannot deny that Dunham’s body positivity and personal brand of feminism (however problematic) has ultimately been a positive influence on my generation. Lena Dunham never shies away from speaking her mind, or celebrating her true self — especially when that means shutting down trolls who would love nothing more than to reduce her to a simplified stereotype involving her weight or appearance.
Dunham recently appeared at an event celebrating her personal trainer, Tracy Anderson. In keeping with the spirit of the event, Dunham wore exercise clothes.
Immediately, news outlets began reporting that Dunham had debuted a “shocking,” “dramatic” and “incredible” weight loss at the event.
When Refinery29 published a story scolding other media outlets for obsessing about the Dunham’s weight, she responded by posting a screenshot of the headline on her Instagram, and writing an open letter to her followers about her complicated relationship with her body.
Her caption reads:
Thank you for this @Refinery29. I feel I’ve made it pretty clear over the years that I don’t give even the tiniest of shits what anyone else feels about my body. I’ve gone on red carpets in couture as a size 14. I’ve done sex scenes days after surgery, mottled with scars. I’ve accepted that my body is an ever changing organism, not a fixed entity- what goes up must come down and vice versa. I smile just as wide no matter my current size because I’m proud of what this body has seen and done and represented. Chronic illness sufferer. Body-shaming vigilante. Sexual assault survivor. Raging hottie. Just like all of YOU. Right now I’m struggling to control my endometriosis through a healthy diet and exercise. So my weight loss isn’t a triumph and it also isn’t some sign I’ve finally given in to the voices of trolls. Because my body belongs to ME–at every phase, in every iteration, and whatever I’m doing with it, I’m not handing in my feminist card to anyone. So thank you to my girl @ashleygraham for writing so gorgeously about this on @lennyletter (link in bio). Thank you to @tracyandersonmethod for teaching me that exercise has the power to counteract my pain and anxiety, and to @jennikonner for being my partner in FUCK IT. I refuse to celebrate these bullshit before-and-after pictures. Don’t we have infinitely more pressing news to attend to? So much love to all my web friends who demand that life be more than a daily weigh in, who know their merit has nothing to do with their size, who fight to be seen and heard and accepted. I love you- Lena
Dunham wants to make it clear to others that her weight loss is “not some sort of triumph,” and is not an indicator that she has finally “given in to the voices of trolls” who have constantly criticized her for her appearance. Which, regardless of your thoughts on Lena Dunham, is an important concept to grasp: she is not allowing the public’s general opinion to serve as a barometer for her worth, and it’s honestly healthy advice for all of us.
This isn’t to say that weight loss is inherently bad — it’s just not not worth reporting on like some sort of baseball score. After all, Dunham has accomplished significantly more in her burgeoning career than managing to shed a few pounds. Perhaps it’s time that everyone (women included) remind themselves that writing and directing one’s own HBO series at the tender age of 24 is far more impressive than fitting into a slightly smaller pant size.