A reporter once asked her, during a press conference, to explain all the nudity on the show, a question that didn’t sit well with Dunham. She didn’t apologize then, and she has no plans to change her stance now, with the show entering its final season on Sunday.
“I’ve always had a lot of anxiety. It’s never come from that — my major source of anxiety has not been my body. That’s not my crisis point. Being 30 pounds heavier or lighter, that hasn’t been my primary focus,” she tells Yahoo Style.
Still, without question, the series made it OK to deglamorize what women are supposed to look like naked. Showrunner Jenni Konner had one woman tell her that after watching Girls, she felt confident enough to have sex while on top. The show has reveled in the imperfections of its stars. That’s Marnie (Allison Williams) sitting on the toilet in her minuscule bathroom in the premiere episode. And, yeah, that’s Hannah (Dunham) being sent to a surf camp for a writing assignment, very awkwardly wearing a wetsuit, and later, showing off some of the most relatable sunburn lines this particular sun worshipper has seen yet. And that’s Jessa (Jemima Kirke) slurping yogurt out of a tub while lounging around, gloriously naked, with Adam (Adam Driver).
“It can only help the world to show normal women’s bodies. It’s not about why Lena feels she has to be naked all the time,” says Konner. “It’s hard to know now what our legacy is. I would hope that our legacy is that more women’s voices are brought forward. That there are more shows created and led by women.”
The show was cooked up by Dunham, and featured four disparate friends finding their footing personally and professionally in New York — and got plenty of flak for its shortcomings in the diversity department. But after six seasons at the helm, Dunham is emerging a more confident, outspoken woman who is also more at ease with her status in Hollywood. Like so many women, she felt for years the need to apologize for having authority and the power to hire or fire.
“For me the biggest change has been not just coming into my own creatively but as someone with some power I can use. For a long time, I struggled with the fact that I own the right to do my job the way I want to, to not struggle with certain people’s feelings about me, and that I can be a boss,” she says.
Dunham isn’t one to hide her feelings, or shy away from sharing. She’s posted about how Donald Trump’s presidency has made her so anxious and nauseous, she can’t eat, and called on designers to create clothes for real women.
“What I was attempting to say,” she explains, “is that the kind of stress we feel when there’s a governmental regime like this affects all our bodies. The three minutes between waking and picking up your cellphone are the most dread-filled seconds of my life. It used to be the five seconds before you vomit.”
Upon arriving at Howard Stern’s studios for a recent interview, “Howard told me I look tiny in person. That almost didn’t feel like a compliment. The only thing I can credit is my own anxiety. A lot of women can relate to this sense of nausea and anxiety. It’s the first time I wanted to eat less.” Still, never one to dwell or fixate on her weight, she adds, with more than a pinch of irony, “it’s a celebration and a terrible tragedy.”
Some of that — OK, a lot of that — doesn’t sit well with trolls.
“So many people are like, ‘Trump is president, will you finally shut up?’ No, we won’t shut up,” says Dunham. “I used to engage more with trolls. I haven’t recently. I don’t look at my own Twitter. I send it to my social media manager. If I see something that I think needs or warrants a thoughtful response, I’ll do it. I check in with my soul. Will I be helping someone else? You make a decision based on that.”
Konner, meanwhile, was just blasted for — wait for it — having vocal fry while talking to Howard Stern. For those not in the know, vocal fry refers to women speaking with a “guttural growl in the back of the throat,” as per the Guardian.
“I got so much grief on Twitter for my vocal fry. I thought it was so funny. It was really making me laugh,” says Konner. “I don’t engage with trolls. I don’t get trolled that much.”
So what’s next for the two women, both of whom are politically outspoken on social media and in interviews?
“I don’t know really know yet. Thank God we have Lenny Letter as a political platform. Girls has never been overtly political. They weren’t activist girls. They didn’t really give a s***. Part of me thinks we should just do slapstick comedy, something so silly. I really have no idea,” she says.
Lest you think both women are wallowing in their own sense of self-importance — please. Yes, they care about reproductive rights and body issues. They’re also into fashion, with Dunham describing her Girls premiere ensemble, by Todd Oldham, as “anxious Jewish Ariana Grande. I had a silver pony holder.” And like the rest of us, they went berserk when they heard that Beyoncé was pregnant with twins.
“Bless Beyoncé. The bright spot in everyone’s week,” says Dunham.
Konner looks at the big picture, especially when it comes to promoting a comedy while there’s so much upheaval at the highest levels of government: “When we were at the Girls premiere, we talked about how this was a weird time to be celebrating, it’s a weird time to have a party — but you have to make room for joy. Beyoncé broke the news of her twins and it cheered people up. That works for me.”
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