Leave Lena Dunham Alone!

Image Credit: Annie Leibovitz for Vogue
Image Credit: Annie Leibovitz for Vogue

Wasn’t it only last week that Lena Dunham was the Internet’s favorite body-positive darling? When she calmly responded to a television critic who objected to the presence of her insufficiently titillating body, she was lauded in a hundred feminist think pieces championing her rejection of television’s no-thigh policy. But apparently all that good will was shot when she had the audacity to have the bags under her eyes digitally removed. The horror!

After Dunham’s rather pretty Vogue spread was published on Wednesday, Jezebel posted a $10,000 bounty for the release of the unretouched photos. Was it because they didn’t believe she could look that glam? Of course not! Was it because they thought she’d look heavier in the originals? Certainly no! Was it because Dunham haters would flock to Jezebel in order to see unflattering images? Never! See, Jezebel was just trying to attack the harsh beauty standards propagated by the fashion industry and promote body acceptance. Clearly, because nothing screams “love yourself!” like pointing tiny arrows at the “flaws” in a woman’s face and figure. Continue reading “Leave Lena Dunham Alone!”

Retta Knows Best

Photo credit: PopGurls
Photo credit: PopGurls

Treat yo’ self, and listen to Retta discuss race and typecasting on NPR’s “Talk of the Nation.” And then follow Retta on twitter because, seriously, why aren’t you already following Retta on twitter?

Good Girls Revolt

Photo credit: AMC
Photo credit: AMC

1968 is often used as shorthand for the counterculture, recalling images of massive societal change and hair of the “shining, gleaming, streaming, flaxen, waxen” variety. Although Mad Men is clearly celebrating the latter with a preponderance of beards, sideburns, and mustaches, season six is mostly covering ground already trampled to death by the Sterling-Cooper-Draper-Price brigade. Mortality! Mommy issues! And guilt, so much guilt! But the new season features one notable, and rather prescient, sign of the changing times. The women of Mad Men are leaning in.

While everyone’s favorite domestic sociopath, Betty Francis, continues to represent the “problem with no name,” it’s difficult to feel a great deal of sympathy for a woman who uses adolescent rape fantasies as pillow talk. So the writers are instead focusing on the female characters whose drama occurs outside the home—and doesn’t involve ball gags. Workplace sexism has long been a Mad Men staple, but the show is now highlighting the problems faced by women who not only want to work but who also want the proverbial seat at the table–and the power that comes with it. Continue reading “Good Girls Revolt”

Bros Before Hoes

Photo Credit: HBO
Photo Credit: HBO

I learned a few important lessons from the second season of Girls: (1) Inventing an app will not only make a man wealthy but also inexplicably hotter and better at giving head; (2) E-Book editors enjoy quoting Tennessee Williams but hate reading about “Jane Austen type” friendships; (3) And when all of your female friends desert you, you should just wait for fun. to start playing, and a shirtless white knight will sprint through the streets of Brooklyn and break down a door simply for the pleasure of holding you. Female friendships, I’ve learned, are so 2012. Continue reading “Bros Before Hoes”

Sleeping it Off

Photo Credit: HBO
Photo Credit: HBO

While discussing the now infamous Girls episode “One Man’s Trash” with a group of 23-year-old girls who currently live in Bushwick, I heard the following critiques: the episode seemed out of place, it wasn’t funny, it felt like a slap in the face to an audience who really wants to hear Shoshanna say a few funny lines about emogees. Now that I’ve reached the ripe old age of 30, I feel that I can confidently say that these girls are simply wrong. The episode is distinct both structurally and tonally from the rest of the series, but this distinction is meant to startle the audience—to wake us up.

The episode opens with Hannah and Ray standing near a sign that reads “Don’t Ever Sleep Again.” As we follow them inside the coffee shop, Ray quickly gets into a screaming match with pretty, pretty Patrick Wilson over trash that hasn’t been put in its proper place. These two narrative signposts—sleep and trash—mark Hannah’s descent into a fantasy world of comfort and maturity before she returns to her discontented young adulthood. I’m not taking part in the is-Hannah-hot-enough-to-sleep with-Patrick-Wilson debate because (a) it’s stupid and (b) it also fails to take into account the way in which Wilson represents uncomplicated beauty—the type of beauty Hannah has previously resisted. To write Josh (I’m sorry, Joshua) off as a perfect brownstone ken doll is to miss the larger point that the attractive life he represents is ultimately revealed to be as hollow as Hannah’s claims that she is special because she is able to “feel so much.” On both sides of the 24/42 divide, we find loneliness, vulnerability, and a sense that something nameless is missing. Hannah tries a bit harder to name it but ultimately ends up taking out the trash and walking away. Continue reading “Sleeping it Off”