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Lena Dunham at the 2016 Met Gala.

Lena Dunham: Quit Co-Opting the Struggle of Actual Plus-Sized Women for Your Pity Party

Lena Dunham at the 2016 Met Gala.

Lena Dunham at the 2016 Met Gala.

Lena Dunham’s latest attention grab is an insult to real plus-size and black women’s struggles.

by Liz Barlow

To some, Girls star Lena Dunham is a trash human being, a problematic “feminist,” a child molester (no, seriously) who writes mediocrity (books, scripts, articles, etc.).

Apparently, Odell Beckham, Jr. sensed this in negroness and listening to the ancestors, and did not pay one piece of attention to Dunham at the New York Met Gala this year. Dunham, full of white-woman non-intersectional feminism and faux liberalism, was hurt by this non-interaction. She mentioned in an interview with Amy Schumer how she used the art of telekinesis to rummage through the mind of a man she has never had a conversation with and conjured the idea that he was not interested in her because of her shape.

If you are reading this and saying to yourself, that does not make one bit of sense, you would be correct.

Lena Dunham sexualized a non-interaction with a black man, and months later, when none of us were paying attention to her, decided to tell us how he made her feel bad for being a kind-of, sort-of chubby.  GIRL, pull your shit, Madame. I could go into how historically and stereotypically, Dunham’s behavior is vile, problematic and dangerous. However, I’ll let the real scholars handle that one.

My beef with her is that she co-opting a real, damn struggle. The struggle of dealing with desirability politics when navigating the world as a fat woman, particularly a fat black femme. Dunham’s interpretation of this event leads me to believe that she has a limited viewpoint of what it is like to be rejected and nastily ignored because you do not fit inside the box of beautiful as a fat woman. That her view of desirability only extends to chubby, white woman and it is not inclusive of women of color.

Related: Over-sexualizing Odell Beckham Isn’t The First Time Dunham Had No Chill On Fetishizing Black Men

Fat women — and other women who do not have the privilege of living within Eurocentric beauty norms — are often treated poorly when playing the desirability spin game in life. Knowing that someone physically finds you repulsive, finds your intrusion to this space where “the beautiful ones” are enjoying the spoils of being seen as attractive, as such a disrespectful distraction, that the only thing they can do to curve your behavior is to sternly ignore you, is something that happens frequently in a fat-bodied person’s life. The experience of being outwardly disregarded by people when you want to be desired is not exclusive to just fat WOC, but for them the experience is often amplified.

Dunham has taken those feelings of isolation, embarrassment and hyper self-awareness that actual fat people experience and applied them to a situation that has no merit, essentially throwing herself a pity party full of stale-ass cake that none of us wanted to attend. This is fragile feminism at its finest. A man didn’t validate your existence, didn’t call you beautiful, your insecurities are triggered by not having an interaction with this man — and now it’s because he doesn’t like fat girls.

Well, on behalf of the fat girls who’ve been preyed on while dating, who become super-sensitive to every slight in public spaces, who’ve experienced the trauma of people turning cold on them because their body shape doesn’t elicit a warm response: carry yo ass! You’re co-opting some made-up degradation you haven’t actually experienced in this case in order to write some white-tears memoir of a night that happened months ago.

I call shenanigans, Lena. I see the bullshit in this fake interaction that you are now twisting into some righteous moment for body positivity. The body positivity movement doesn’t need your Professor X, Long-Island-Medium-like experiences; we have enough real trauma on our own.

Related: Dunham’s Lonely Girls Lingerie Shoot Isn’t Nearly as Body-Positive as it Claims

I do not want people to think I am body-shaming Dunham or downplaying her insecurities as a woman. I do not truly know how she experiences her body on a day-to-day basis. However, I am saying she needs to check her privilege as a person who can navigate spaces that include socially acceptable beautiful people comfortably, without being noticed — whereas women who have bigger bodies, melanin and visible fat cannot. Dunham may have issues seeing her body as attractive, but that is not how she is perceived. Being judged or being shunned by others for her body is not her experience.  

So in the words of the immortal words of a fake David Ruffin played by the immortal Leon, “Ain’t Nobody Coming to See you Otis!” Maybe you just not cute, boo.

Liz Barlow is an up-and-coming Virginia comic, actress, radio host and writer. If she isn’t stalking Luke James, making people laugh or collecting The Incredible Hulk action figures, she is probably switching between social media apps. Follow her on Instagram,Twitter and Blog Talk Radio.


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