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Lena Dunham addresses 'gnarly' comments from body shamers: 'When will we learn to stop equating thinness with health/happiness?'

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Lena Dunham has had a joyous year. The writer and Girls creator decided to take a break from the internet to focus on her health, her upcoming projects (including an interactive romance novel) and her new marriage to musician Luis Felber.

But on Wednesday, Dunham revealed that while she’s grateful for these “moments of joy,” comments about her weight have started to get to her, which is why she decided to address body shamers head-on by making clear that it's OK to "live in your present body." 

“This past week was lovely for so many reasons,” Dunham began the post. “Firstly, I got married. My husband and I traveled [the] country and looked at bee hives & fields of wildflowers. I got to feel the intense love of my friends/family surrounding us. I got a little break from work, which reminded me how much I love what I do and how excited I am to share what I've been making with you in 2022. I say this because over the years, I've shared many challenges with you and these moments of joy had me thinking that we should admit when we’re happy too — it's not a crime.”

“But,” she continued, “all of this safety made me forget, for a moment, why I’ve created such intense boundaries with the internet over the past few years. It's a little too easy to feel the glow of support and forget about the cesspool lurking behind it — so I took a peek, and saw some gnarly shit, most not worth responding to or even sharing with you. But one narrative I take issue with, largely because it's a story I don't want other women, other people, to get lodged in their heads is that I should somehow be ashamed because my body has changed since I was last on television.”

The writer then took a jab at the bad jokes some of the trolls made at her expense.

“Firstly, ‘Did Lena eat the cast of Girls?’ just isn't a very good joke. I could punch that up for the Tweeter,” she quipped. “Secondly, it's ironic to have my body compared to a body that was also the subject of public scorn — an echo chamber of body shaming. But lastly, when will we learn to stop equating thinness with health/happiness? Of course weight loss can be the result of positive change in habits, but guess what? So can weight gain.”

She then acknowledged that the images many commenters were comparing her present body to were “from when I was in active addiction with undiagnosed illness,” she said. “In the 4 years since, I've gotten sober and begun my life as someone who aspires toward health and not just achievement.”

“These changes have allowed me to be the kind of sister/friend/daughter that I want to be and yes — meet my husband (who, by the way, doesn't recognize me in those old photos because he sees how dimmed my light was),” she added. “I say this for any other person whose appearance has been changed with time, illness or circumstance — it’s okay to live in your present body without treating it as transitional. I am, and I'm really enjoying it. Love you all.”

Dunham is known to use her platform to create a more empowering space for people to talk about their bodies, their issues with IVF and mental health overall. 

In 2019, she posed naked and vowed to donate a dollar to charity for every self-love comment fans wrote. That same year, she said she was the heaviest and happiest she’s ever been in her life, describing the feeling as a “big, generous, jiggly happiness.”

Dunham, who in 2018 decided to get a hysterectomy due to ongoing suffering from endometriosis, has also used her platform to talk about addiction and her own journey toward sobriety.

“My entire 20s was me jeopardizing my health,” she told Cosmopolitan UK last year. “I remember [during] the first season of Girls I would go out with guys and stay out until four in the morning, and then show up at work at 9am and slay it, but it was like, ‘What if I had a full night’s sleep and I didn’t feel the need to go out to the bar with every Tom, Dick and Harry who asked me because I was afraid I was unlovable?’”

“Self-care can mean getting under a duvet, but there’s a difference between giving yourself love and isolating yourself from the world," she continued. "Now if I spend my day under a duvet it’s either because I’m having a bad illness flare or, as you would say here, I’m having a nice lie-in. I’m not shutting the world out.”