Choosing carefully

Memoir excerpt inspires analysis of evolving Lena Dunham fandom

Photo by Jordan Strauss

Advertisement

Here is the deal: Lena Dunham wrote a book titled “Not That Kind of Girl,” and the full text is set to be released next week. Last Friday an extract from the actress, director and writer’s debut book was published by The Guardian.

Here is why it matters this me: Growing up in my little Twin Cities suburb, there were few moments I relished more than Sundays at home. Sunday night at my parent’s house, like many other homes, I anticipate, is the calm before the storm of the looming school/work week.

On Sunday evenings my family would convene in the living room, typically with a fire roaring in our wood-burning fireplace. We would then find something the five of us could agree on to watch on TV. If there was an award show of any kind airing that evening, we reached our decision with ease.

On one of these very typical Sundays in January 2013, my family took their places in our living room and a fire burned as we watched the Golden Globes.

When it came time for “Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy” a lovely gal in a deep purple dress stood up to accept her award as her name was called.

Lena Dunham. It was my first exposure to Dunham. She was in California in an evening gown, I was in my parent’s living room, still on winter break, donning an oversized sweatshirt and wool socks. However, I remember feeling instantly connected to Dunham.

I knew nothing about her at the time. I had yet to watch her show “Girls,” and the Vogue magazine with her on the cover, which still sits by my bedside, had yet to hit newsstands. Regardless, as she stood and told the crowd, “the other nominees in this category are women that inspire me deeply and have made me laugh and comforted me at the darkest moments of my life,” I felt connected to her.

Since that night, I have been inspired by Dunham’s creative work as well as her activism for gender equality. I have really always been amazed by her willingness to unapologetically be herself in the public eye.

I think Dunham’s type of stardom is unique and I crave more of it. She’s authentic and real. My love affair with Dunham continued to grow last week when the excerpt from her book was published by The Guardian. As I sat at my usual table in Racy’s with cold press and a friend, I laughed, teared up and got the chills as I read about Dunham’s extreme fear of death, the loss of her grandmother and the summer she thought she had AIDS. As a disclaimer: my emotional reaction to Dunham’s essay form piece is commonplace in my life when I read articles, essays or novels which strike my fancy. It’s not unique to my life as a Dunham fangirl.

However, there is something so real about Dunham.

There I was, at my favorite hangout in this little college town, which has become my home, reading the words of a woman I had met through the TV in my parent’s living room more than a year and a half ago.

Here is why I think it should matter to you: The thing is, most of us will idolize someone famous at one point or another in our lives. Whether it’s athletes like those who have let us down in recent NFL turmoil, singers or actresses. We are prone to look up to and “befriend” people we are likely to never meet. So, like the real characters in our lives, we ought to choose our idols carefully. We ought to only follow those who are committed to using their social status to influence social change.

In recent months there has been a real effort of A-List celebrities adding the “F” word to their identity. That word of course being, Feminism, with Dunham being in the center of the trend. In a world where celebrities are more and more likely to use their social status to inspire social change, I think we should pay attention.

For some, Emma Watson’s recent UN speech and Beyonce’s VMA performance stand out. For me it’s Dunham. She has been an authentic, real role model. I implore you to find your Dunham. Find a celebrity who is fighting for the changes you believe in and start supporting them instead of supporting NFL superstars with criminal records.