Lena Dunham's wildly acclaimed Tiny Furniture opens in New York today (other cities forthcoming.) Turns out the refreshingly self-aware and confident Dunham also has some sharp insights on film and body image.
It's hard to remember a public debut as universally positive as Dunham's, and from the looks of it, including this exclusive clip, it's well-deserved. (As we wrote of her and Greta Gerwig earlier this year, "though the narrow slice of humanity from which they hail - white, urban, educated - is already pretty well-represented in the indie [film] space, even that supposedly enlightened quadrant has had few female narrators." Or as our own magnets drolly commented then, "White men with interdisciplinary studies degrees and existential angst watch out, white women with interdisciplinary studies degrees and existential angst are here to piss right in your mouth!! Vive la revolution!!!!")
That Dunham doesn't "look Hollywood," a fact that she was shamefacedly asked about in a Women & Hollywood interview, is actually a central part of her creative proposition. This week's New Yorker profile of her (sadly not online in full) opens with a description of Dunham's college YouTube stunt — including stepping into a fountain at Oberlin in a bikini — and the Internet hate she got about her body that followed.
"Of course, as a girl you take these things to heart," she told me when recalling the comments that "The Fountain" elicited. "I live in this constant state of ‘This is what I look like—fuck you!' and being, like, ‘I am so sorry, I want to cover myself up.' " She was once told by a male friend never to show her work to anyone she might have a romantic interest in: "I was, like, ‘Any guy I want to sleep with would be interested in what I am doing.' Or we would be in a dark corner and he wouldn't know what my job was."
Our thoughts exactly. She also says in the piece, "I've lost a little weight since ‘Tiny Furniture,' and I had the thought ‘Oh, my God, what if the only reason it's funny when I act is that I'm lumpy-looking?' When we were auditioning for the other two girls, I was, like, ‘Make sure she's tiny enough for it to be funny when she's next to me.'" She concludes, "I'll always have a chubby attitude."
The clarity about these near-universal insecurities and contradictions aside, It's clear that Dunham's talents go far beyond any of this. Luckily, she seems to know it.
Downtown's Daughter [Subscription Only]
Interview With Lena Dunham [Women & Hollywood]
Earlier: Will Twentysomething Women Beat The Cinema Gender Gap?