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Why are we commenting on Lena Dunham’s weight in her wedding photos?


By Sarah Finnan
07th Oct 2021

Lena Dunham / Instagram

Why are we commenting on Lena Dunham’s weight in her wedding photos?

The comments about how Lena Dunham looked in her wedding photos should be held up in court as proof of why people need to *stop* talking about women’s bodies altogether.

“If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” was a refrain in my house growing up… such was not the case for strangers on the internet though, who thought it absolutely necessary they make their opinion re Lena Dunham’s appearance known – and in her lovely lace wedding gown no less. 

Sharing a photo of herself and her new husband, musician Luis Felber, during the week, Lena captioned the photo “9*25*21 – that’s how she became the nanny…” – a reference to the theme song of the popular sitcom starring Fran Drescher. 

Shiny happy people 

What struck me upon seeing the photo, was how happy the actress looked. Staring straight into the camera lens with a wide grin on her face, it’s clear (or at least, it was to me) that she’s very much floating in a bubble of love; as anyone should be on their wedding day – the oft-dubbed “happiest day” of a person’s life. 

Others were less interested in her newly-wed bliss though and bypassed the niceties to hone in on how she looked. More specifically, how different she looked to the last time many of them had seen her. Inundating the post with negativity, the snarky remarks also made their way over to Twitter, many of them far from complimentary. Noting that she had “gained weight” and “should be more worried about her health”, critics tried to masquerade their insults behind pretences of concern – but both Lena and her legion of loyal fans saw right through the bs. 

Responding to the backlash in the caption of another smiling selfie she shared online last night, Dunham said that the past few days have made her realise how important the “intense boundaries” she’s put in place really are. 

Boundaries

“This past week was lovely for so many reasons,” she began. “Firstly, I got married. My husband and I traveled to 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,” Dunham continued. “But 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 sh*t, most not worth responding to or even sharing with you. 

Admitting that there is one particular “narrative” she takes issue with, Lena went on to address the bizarre idea that she should somehow be ashamed because her body has changed. 

Body shaming 

“Firstly ‘Did Lena eat the cast of Girls’ just isn’t a very good joke – I could punch that up for the Tweeter. 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,” she added. 

“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. The pics I’m being compared to are from when I was in active addiction with undiagnosed illness. 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.)

“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,” she concluded. 

Enough is enough

Lena has always been denounced for how she looked. The body she’s now compared to was never considered the ideal – the critics ridiculed her for that body too. They loved her in Girls, but offscreen it was a different story. A dichotomy exists between TV and real-life; people celebrated her character for being “man-crazy, chubby and broke”, but God forbid she was that way IRL. Three years on and she’s still on the chopping block and not for anything she’s done, but simply for existing.  

Lena is just one of many to be at the mercy of such public ridicule on a daily basis, but I think I speak for women everywhere when I say: enough is enough.  Unless your comment is “Hey, I really like your dress” or you know, “Congratulations!”, then it’s probably best not to comment at all. No one has the right to pass judgement on another person – especially when that comes to how they look, and as Lena herself already pointed out, thinness does *not* equate to health/happiness. People exist in all different bodies and to say that those in bigger bodies are innately unhappy because of it, is both demeaning and categorically untrue.