The Cultural Curator

Bringing you thoughts on feminism, fashion, food, current affairs, and other cultural goodies…

Shame On Us

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I woke up this morning with something on my mind. And it’s been on the minds of others, as well.

I know this because, ever since Lena Dunham (of Girls fame) exposed her breasts on television for the first time, the whole world has appeared to be up in arms. Everyone has an opinion, and everyone seems to think theirs is important enough to share publicly (because I’m sure Dunham and Apatow [the series executive producer] are milling about the studio, giving a flying f***) with a captive audience of people sitting on the edge of their couches, waiting to throw daggers at Dunham and Co..

Until now, I’ve enjoyed the show ‘under the radar’. I’m of the opinion, to each her or his own. You want to show a nipple (or two) in public? Go for it. You think the world is missing a snapshot of your bare buttocks? Expose away, baby, expose away. You believe your body is a wonderland? And so you should…

Just don’t hurt yourself. Or anyone else, for that matter. That’s my only criteria.

With all my openness (and attempted lack of judgment), it came much to my own surprise – and dismay – when, during last night’s episode (“One Man’s Trash”), I found myself attacking Dunham, muttering (loudly!) under my breath that, this time, she had gone too far. In a nutshell (*spoilers*), Dunham’s character, Hannah, begins throwing garbage bags (from the café where she works) into a neighbouring home’s (owned by the gorgeous, if I do say so myself, Patrick Wilson’s character, Joshua) trashcan. Joshua is peeved that he has nowhere to put his own garbage and, after a verbal altercation with the café manager, he leaves in a huff.  Hannah follows him to his (perfectly manicured) Brooklyn brownstone, making an awkward attempt to confess that it was she throwing trash in his can before he invites her into his home. Hannah, in true ‘Hannah’ fashion, proceeds to apologize (by planting a less-than-sexy kiss on his lips and then apologizes again for the ‘complete invasion’ of his personal space), and just when you think Joshua is going to show her the door, he reciprocates by picking her up, planting her on his granite-covered kitchen island, and performing ‘mouth-to-mouth’ (he is a doctor, after all…). We soon learn that Joshua is 42 (Hannah is 24) and recently separated from his wife, who could no longer tolerate his workaholic nature. Hannah’s timing, then, could not be more perfect, as the beautiful Joshua is simply looking for some good lovin’ and affection. He asks Hannah to stay over. And not just for a night. No. He wants Hannah to stay… for good.

So that, my friends, is an 11-line synopsis. And I promise (I promise), I’m getting to my point here.  All the while watching this episode, I could feel ‘Judge-y Jackie’ rearing her ugly head. “There is no way Joshua would be attracted to a homely-looking Hannah,” I could hear myself saying. “Look how ripped he is! Would a man of his handsomeness and stature really want to make love to a woman who looks like the Pillsbury Doughboy?” Awful, awful thoughts, I know.

And so… I stopped myself. Because not only was I being über critical but, more importantly, it dawned on me that I was missing the point entirely. That whole business of ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’, trite as it may be, is actually very true. As a society, we’ve become so consumed by ‘hotness’ that we’ve turned into the worst possible versions of ourselves, forever on the attack and ready to pounce on anyone who tries to show us another – more human – way.

Thank you, Lena Dunham, for reminding us that it is not all about looks… all of the time. Every woman does not look like Adriana Lima or Cindy Crawford. Most of us, in reality, look more like Dunham (soft rolls and all that jazz…), and it doesn’t make us any less beautiful or desirable. It just makes us real flesh-and-blood people. Capable of loving and (shocking, I know) being loved. Even when we’re constantly being reminded (by the media and the ‘Judge-y Jackies’ of the world) that we’re not.

I’m going to say this and I’m only going to say this once so listen up, ladies! Our lovers/significant others are nowhere as judgmental of us as we are of ourselves. We are, in most cases, our own worst enemy. Rarely (and I mean raaaaaarely… if ever) will a man (or another woman) turn down a naked lady at the foot of their bed. If you have a vagina (and sexuality), it’s game on. And they probably think your body is pretty freakin’ awesome. Rolls… and all.

Case in point.

“You’re beautiful,” declares Joshua to Hannah, as they lie in his bed, playing kissy face.

“You really think so?” responds Hannah… equally as surprised as the rest of us.

“I do. Don’t you?”

Ummmm… no, I do. It’s just not always the feedback that I’ve been given, so…” retorts Hannah, only half-jokingly.

“Well, you are… very beautiful.”

Do you get it, yet? Dunham is, in fact, brilliant. Because she doesn’t care that I’m muttering under my breath while picking apart her ‘flaws’, or that the media execs are screaming from their Manhattan rooftops, “you’re ugly!” and “you’re fat!” and “you’re never going to bed a man who looks like Patrick Wilson!”

Well, fuck you. And fuck us. We should be ashamed. Collectively.

For all of us hating on Dunham (and, more significantly, on what she represents for women and our power to own our beautiful bodies), I think we must take a long – naked – look in the mirror. There is nothing (I repeat: N-O-T-H-I-N-G) offensive or disgusting about the female form. ‘Ya hear me?

I am always amazed by our culture’s acceptance of – and apathy towards – violence in television and movies (READ: film titles like ‘Bullet to the Head’ premiering in theatres soon, folks), yet a nipple here or an ass cheek there is shamed and slapped with an ‘NC-17’ rating.

The reality is that we’re fighting wars all over the world, people (in our own backyards and further afield) are dying, every single day, from poverty and famine, and yet… we get hung up on a woman exposing her breasts and soft (for shame!) stomach on a network series. Isn’t it obvious yet that we have (MUCH!) more important fish to fry?

Shame on us! Shame. On. Us. Seriously.

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2 comments on “Shame On Us

  1. runningoutofplaceandtime
    February 12, 2013

    I appreciate the way you shared your thought process on your blog. I think Lena is a big threat to the entertainment industry–they have manipulated consumers into thinking that only certain body types should be displayed, so that they can sell their products and scare people, particularly women, into thinking they need to improve themselves all the time. The images we view definitely begin to affect our thinking. I stopped looking at women’s magazines for about 10 years, (and didn’t own a tv for that time either) when I picked a magazine up again, the women looked shockingly, disturbingly anorexic to me, Once more, now that I again partake and watch more TV, I am used to those images. I think Lena is a hero, I wish I had a role model like her when I was in my 20s. I haven’t caught season 2 yet, but I thought season 1 was groundbreaking in its realistic portrayal of women.

    • theculturalcurator
      February 12, 2013

      Thank you so much for your response to this post, ( I didn’t catch your name?). You make some very valid and valuable points, and you are 110% correct when you suggest that Lena is a threat to the entertainment (and beauty) industry.

      Having worked in the industry myself, it always amazes me how intensely women are torn down, only to be convinced that they need to buy certain products or look a certain way in order to be ‘built up’ again. What’s even more amazing is that we continue to buy into it, myself included.

      I wish Lena wasn’t revolutionary in today’s day and age, but the sad reality is that she is. The industry, as a collective, still has a loooooong way to go, but it’s a start and the start is always where change begins to take place.

      Warmly,

      Jackie

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This entry was posted on February 11, 2013 by in Feminism, Health & Beauty, Life, Media, Pop Culture and tagged , , , , , , , , .
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