Even though I’m edging slowly away from 30 like a 4 year old in swimming lessons knowing they have to leave the instructor but a little scared of what lies ahead, my viewing preferences have yet to catch up to my age. Of course my metabolism, alcohol tolerance and skin are all doing their parts to appropriately age me but if a detective looked only at my DVR when trying to age my badly charred body to determine my age, I suspect I would be placed at about 25-26, ironically an age where I didn’t even have cable and preferred to spend my free time living adventures instead of watching them.
While a lot of my friends are watching Downtown Abbey, I still watch the new seasons of The Real World and Real World/Road Rules Challenges and recently became infatuated with Big Tips Texas and Party Down South. Frankly, I would still be watching The Hills, Jersey Shore, and Buckwild if they hadn’t been cancelled and the bitch of it is Snookie and JWoww are acting more grown up than I am, popping out babies and marching down the aisle.
All of this to make a point that while I’m sure a lot of women my age watch Girls, many of them probably do so with a keen awareness that they aren’t the target demographic. They probably get that when Lena Dunham says she’s the voice of her generation, she means 21-29ish year olds but so much of her writing resonates with me that sometimes it’s like watching myself. Albeit with way less quirks and a much more classic wardrobe. I guess that’s why when I heard about the Vogue photoshopping drama I got a little defensive of Lena. Here is a girl determined to show America that real girls have flaws and are silly and sweet and made more adorable by the very awareness of those flaws. Her writing inspires venomous jealousy in other writers because she manages to nail everyday dialogue for young people in a way that many writers cannot (Dawson’s Creek writers, I’m looking at you).
Googling “I hate Lena Dunham” and you get nearly 27 million results. Many say it’s because she’s annoying without much explanation which is fair enough as what annoys you is evasive to even the annoyed some days. But most people hate her because, to them, she’s ugly or fat or both. So when she was put on the cover of Vogue, a magazine that insofar as I can tell contains only pictures of really skinny, sad models and really expensive clothes/accessories, the haters got mad. They were outraged that the photos were photoshopped like, you know, every photo in every magazine and railed against Vogue for lowering its standards. The quickest justification could be that people don’t think Dunham’s achievements warrant the feature. But Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw penned cliche-ridden articles for Vogue and Sarah Jessica Parker graced its cover and no one batted an eye. And Parker is just an actress saying the often silly lines based on Bushnell’s books while Dunham’s article is about a fierce, smart, fun girl who writes for her hit show.
Personally before the article I didn’t spend too much time thinking about Lena’s looks except when it was linked to a plot line a la her horrible self-inflicted bowl cut. I am shocked and kinda sad that so many people are so mad about her occasional nude scenes which are actually really integral to portraying a single 20 something in a way that is really honest. And then I read comments from people saying that Melissa McCarthy should defend Lena and I’m a little more annoyed. Because first of all they are more than 50 pounds apart (notable because if the 50 pounds went the other way, Dunham would get a lot less shit) and because what the hell does Melissa McCarthy have to do with it? Other than being on the verrrry short list of actresses people criticize/hate/stereotype/pity for being overweight.
I have been around longer than Lena, long enough that I could have babysat for her if I didn’t kinda hate kids and all those walks around the block and reality tv shows have taught me a few things that she just might find helpful: 1) Sometimes people hate you for no good reason. Sometimes they hate you for things you are doing. If it’s the latter and you want them to like you, stop being a dick. If it’s the former, eff em. 2) Sometimes you really want people to like you and it manifests itself in trying too hard, drinking too much or sharing too much. If you get too drunk on the first night and hit on every male in the house and all your roommates want you to leave, just apologize. An apology can go a long way. Right Snookie? 3) Everyone who goes on a reality show loses weight eventually especially if they make it to the second season. What they lose in weight they gain in ego. It’s the ego that usually makes them unattractive. 4) Never eat peanut butter after Puck. 5) You can’t please everyone so you’ve got to please yourself. And at least one other person in the house. Because it can’t always be everyone else.
None of these gems are particularly relevant to Lena in light of the Vogue pseudo scandal but surely they will be useful sometime. The only advice I have for her in the here and now comes via this clip. Long live Bernie Mac.