In the past few weeks, the entertainment world revealed their horror over writer/director/actress, Lena Dunham. Why? She dared to do two horrific, unforgiveable things: 1) win an Emmy as a young newcomer 2) walked around naked as her character Hannah without the decency to be shamed by her body.
We see naked women on HBO and ShowTime all the time. We see them on Sex in the City, on CatHouse (don’t pretend you don’t watch it). We see them in late-night skinamax soft-core porn. It is a very slender body, perfect breast kind of nakedness and almost always about sex. However, Dunham’s Hannah walks around naked and sometimes it isn’t about sex. Sometimes, she’s just plain naked. And when it is about sex, she isn’t hidden. There is no shirt covering up her waiste or blanket over her boobs. Her Eloise tattoos, her ass, her small bust are out there for everyone to see. She dares, as Howard Stern *so thoughtfully reminded us, to do the one thing in the world a woman should NEVER be forgiven for: show a world trained to expect photoshopped perfection her nakedness in it’s glorious imperfection. Or more plainly put, she got naked without giving a damn that Howard might not like what he saw.
I don’t believe that when Dunham writes Hannah that she is trying to revolutionize the meaning of the word Hot. It’s not a battle-cry for the not so perfect girl to be seen as a sex-goddess. I believe, in many ways, Hannah’s physicality is purposely awkward: her hair is out of place. Her clothing never looks right. She’s a grown woman with cartoon characters tattooed on her arms. Her physical body mirrors her awkwardness in the world but, and I love this, but just because she’s awkward (she has to work odd jobs, she has hardly any money, her high school boyfriend reveals that he’s gay, and her sometimes boyfriend has her role-play very odd senarios) it doesn’t mean that Dunham’s character is trapped in the black hole of self-hatred.
She’s 23. She hasn’t figured herself out. She hasn’t figured the world out yet. Despite, her awkward appearance and her difficult relationships, Hannah, like most 23-year-olds, thinks she has her worldview perfectly in place. So why bother covering up the nakedness she sees and accepts as normal? She walks around her apartment naked. She is fully naked in front of her lovers. And we, her audience, aren’t there to wonder why she’s not a Victoria’s Secret model. We are there to be part of her story and that includes her evolution, her rawness, and the reality of it all.
Sadly, it’s quite a revelation. Most of us feel that our nakedness, even when no one else is looking, is a source of shame, another example of our failures and imperfections. Maybe we can learn from Hannah. Maybe we can learn that we are constantly evolving and changing as people, and sometimes, our physical selves are a reflection of that change. Instead of fighting it, instead of bowing down to the Howard Stern and the rest of society’s talking heads, we can take a deep breath, stand alone naked and think, “this…is…awesome.”
*note: Howard Stern actually apologized to Lena and she accepted. He admitted that he likes the show. However, his fat-girl comments aren’t exactly new. And comments like his are still acceptable to many.
Over-sharing Zavtik Mama, Editor, Writer, Yiddish Lover, Reform Jew, Avid Public Breastfeeder, and now, the Not-So-Silent B in LGBT, — Shoshana Rachel puts the Shosh in Meshuga one word at a time. Read her ever-evolving voice on her blog, Shoshuga or follow her on twitter. For her bigger fight on female equality, see her vlog on the great Jewish Women’s Organization Women of the Wall.