Lena Dunham Is Having To Defend Her Workouts As “Not Anti-Feminist”

According to Marie Claire (because I don’t watch Letterman), Lena Dunham is having to defend herself as a feminist … because she’s working out.

Let me say from the outset, because I’m going to say it at some point, that I really do not like Lena Dunham (The Public Figure). I don’t think it’s extraordinary that she has so freely and publicly accepted her body exactly as it is, however it is at any point — lots of people have done that in the past. What’s extraordinary is how much of the viewing public has gotten on board with Dunham’s body acceptance. Some of that has to do with her insistence upon it, some of that has to do with her talent, some of that has to do with her persona, but some of it also has to do with the cultural atmosphere. Right now, it feels like our culture — and women in particular — has just run out of patience with body-shaming.

Anyway, Dunham has been doing Tracy Anderson workouts and AcroYoga and is generally looking fitter and more able and like she’s having a damn good time:

But I guess she’s gotten pushback on this. She defended her new activities on Letterman, and told People, “There’s nothing anti-feminist about being healthy.”

OK, so let’s just review for a second. The whole problem with body-shaming people who are “overweight” or whatever is that it’s no one’s business but theirs what they do with their bodies. And, in fact, one of the central tenets of modern feminism generally is body autonomy: We’re adults with adult intellectual faculties, we can make decisions about our own bodies, thank you very much, and it’s not right for anyone else to decide what’s right for our bodies because they’re not living in them. So regardless of the shape of someone’s body, it’s their right to look however they want, and they shouldn’t have to defend it.

But that applies just as much to people losing weight as it does to people who are either gaining weight or who are heavy already. It’s Lena Dunham’s business what she does — and why! She told Letterman that her parents adopted a healthy lifestyle and started to look “really hot,” and it inspired her. And that, too, is 100 percent valid and 100 percent her business.

I can’t help but think of the new legislation that’s being introduced in France to ban “excessively skinny” models and jail their agents, because that’s the most extreme version of telling someone they ought not to lose weight. Yeah, the proliferate use of thin models in fashion contributes to the culture of body-shaming that tells women that we’re somehow supposed to be super-skinny, but penalizing the models for that is a sort of authoritarian solution to the problem, isn’t it?

Can we just call a truce and say “live and let live”? I understand that there are probably lots and lots of young women who have been heartened by Lena Dunham’s very public body acceptance, but it’s unfair and disrespectful to her autonomy to ask her to keep her body the same, always, because it makes you feel emotionally good. And the great thing is, she hasn’t stopped accepting her body by doing new things with it.

[Marie Claire]

[Image via Instagram]

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