Lena Dunham Believes the Body-Positive Movement Has Its Shortcomings
While introducing her debut clothing line with 11 Honoré, Dunham reflected on how the body-positive movement has its own ideal body type.
Lena Dunham has never been one to pretend that she's body-positive 24/7. While she's expressed appreciation for her body, she's also admitted that she's occasionally looked at old photos of herself "longingly" and has credited pandemic isolation measures with resurfacing a desire to change her body. Now, Dunham's continuing to open up about her relationship with her body, including how that relationship is affected by contradictions in the body-positive movement.
In an interview with the New York Times, Dunham shared her thoughts on body positivity while discussing her new clothing collection with 11 Honoré. The actress said she believes that even within the body-positive movement, certain body types are favored over others. "The thing that's complicated about the body positive movement is it can be for the privileged few who have a body that looks the way people want to feel positive," she said in the interview. "We want curvy bodies that look like Kim Kardashian has been up-sized slightly. We want big beautiful butts and big beautiful breasts and no cellulite and faces that look like you could smack them on to thin women." As someone with a "big stomach," she said she often feels that she doesn't fit into this narrow mold.
Dunham's stance is a common critique of the body-positive movement: that it's empowered people who are closest to the traditional beauty ideal to embrace their body while leaving out more marginalized bodies. (Here's why racism needs to be part of the conversation about body positivity, too.)
Reflecting more on her personal experiences with body-shaming, Dunham told the New York Times that she's been surprised at the amount of weight-related comments she gets "from other women with bodies that look like mine," particularly in response to her fashion choices. In the past, she's "wondered- when designer outfits I've worn have been mocked or ripped apart- whether the same look on a more mainstream fashion body might be celebrated as a 'lewk,'" she wrote in the caption of an Instagram post introducing her line with 11 Honoré. (Related: Why Body-Shaming Is Such a Big Problem — and What You Can Do to Stop It)
With the collection, Dunham said on Instagram that she wanted to create "clothes [that] are not demanding that a plus woman hide." She succeeded; the five-piece collection includes a simple white tank top, button-down shirt, and long floral dress. It also features a blazer and skirt set, which Dunham wanted to include because she's struggled to find miniskirts that don't ride up, she told NYT. (Related: Lena Dunham Explains Why She's Happier Than Ever at Her Heaviest Weight)
In typical fashion, Dunham brought up some thought-provoking points while introducing her debut clothing line. You can rest assured it wasn't created with the persistent body standards that Dunham's referred to — or expectations about what plus-size people "should" wear — in mind.