So there we were the other night, watching a new episode of Girls, which mainly featured Lena Dunham, naked, having sex with a very attractive man. Now, Lena is not what is commonly referred to as "skinny". She's shapely, voluptuous. She's got some meat on her bones.
The first reaction of those with whom I was watching this (they shall remain nameless) was: "That would never happen" and "she shouldn't be naked so much" and "what she's wearing is terribly unflattering" (when she had clothes on). Now, I dearly love those with whom I watched this but I found myself immediately feeling defensive of Lena. It's true, I totally poo-pooed the first few episodes of this season of Girls but those were arguments based on artistic quality, not personal attacks.
I guess this train of thought also coincides with the fact that I'm currently reading Naomi Wolf's The Beauty Myth. What I felt for Lena watching that episode was nothing short of sheer admiration for this woman who is completely fearless, taking every stereotype and shoving it back in our faces. You don't need to be skinny to be sexual. What is attractive to the male species differs from one individual man to another.
As Naomi Wolf states (and I'm paraphrasing here because I'm lazy) "beauty" is generic, bland, frozen, and the very idea of "beauty" is completely manufactured by corporations who want us to feel deeply insecure in our bodies so we'll be good little consumers and buy their useless crap. And it works.
From a disturbingly young age, women are taught to see themselves and other women through the lens of judgement, constantly comparing themselves to other women and seeing them as an adversary instead of an ally. "She's pretty, she must have a great life." "She's fat, she must be a loser."
Why wouldn't an attractive man want to make love to Lena Dunham? Men don't want "perfect", which is nothing more than a commercial construct. They want women who love to f*ck as much as they do, and that requires a certain level of self-confidence and comfort in one's own body. I've often heard that what men find most attractive in women is confidence. It's not great hair, or big boobs, a perfect ass, or flat stomach. Confidence. The ability to laugh at oneself, and fart in public. Ok, I added that last bit but I suspect it's true.
Why do we stand in such harsh judgement of each other and ourselves? Why do we think skinny women are better? And who defines what "skinny" is? According to Wolf, if most women tried to achieve a model's weight, which is, according to those savvy marketers, the "ideal" for women, they would have to be in a constant state of semi-starvation.
What Lena represents is a woman unafraid to be herself. She lets her freak flag fly and doesn't give a rat's ass what anyone else thinks. If only there were more of us with such courage.