Women of all sizes know how jarring it can be when others discuss their appearance. So we recommend taking some tips from Lena Dunham who is no stranger to dealing with online criticism and headlines about her body.
Dunham was forced to defend her recent weight loss last week when attending her friend Tracy Anderson’s new exercise studio launch in New York. For Dunham, the changes in her body aren’t about achieving some kind of societal approval, but helping her to better deal with chronic pain.
Lena Dunham gives a hug to Tracy Anderson at the opening party of the Tracy Anderson 59th Street studio.
“I think for me the big thing was that Tracy just very clearly wasn’t trying to change my body,” Dunham told People.
“I came to her and was like, ‘I have endometriosis, I have chronic physical pain, I just want to feel stronger I just want to have a stronger core, I want to feel like I have more power throughout my day, how do I get there?’ I like that she was coming at it from that perspective rather than like, I’d like to shrink six inches…”
Jemima Kirke and Lena Dunham pose for the Lonely Girls Project.
Inevitably, Dunham’s comments prompted discussion, with media outlets and social media either celebrating or condemning her ‘new’ appearance. Some commenters labelled the star a “hypocrite” and “unaccepting” of all body types for losing weight. One wrote, “#HandsOff the body positivity movement.”
The 30-year-old later took to social media to state that her weight loss is not a sign that she has “finally given in to the voice of the trolls.”
In a lengthy Instagram post, Dunham wrote about how her main concern was fighting against the all-too-common sentiment that women regain ‘happiness and health’ through a weight slim-down.
“Right now I’m struggling to control my endometriosis through a healthy diet and exercise,” she explained, while slamming the idea that thinner is better.
“So my weight loss isn’t a triumph. I feel I’ve made it pretty clear over the years that I don’t [care] what anyone else feels about my body … I don’t give even the tiniest of shits what anyone else feels about my body.”
The star also called herself a “body-shaming vigilante” and “raging hottie,” highlighting how celebrities are affected by body criticism just like any other woman.
“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.”
“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.”
Dunham, who recently wrapped the final season of Girls concluded her post by stating the need to focus on more pressing new issues and thanking her legion of fans that have helped her through her health journey.
“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.”
This isn’t the first time Dunham has used social media as a tool against weight criticism. Last year the star gave the perfect response to someone who asked if she was pregnant and discussed her fear for teenagers facing bullying online. Dunham also praised Glamour magazine for not airbrushing her figure when she appeared on its cover.
Keep the clapbacks coming Lena.
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