What a bunch of shit, I thought. Hated the characters, hated the writing, hated the clothes. Hated it. Hell, I even went out of my way to call up friends and rant about how much I hated it. It was ridiculous. I was on an anti-Lena Dunham crusade. I practically pulled out a pitch fork and a lit torch and hit the streets. I even sought out bad reviews of the show online. (There were very few of them, by the way. But I savored them like a dehydrated man savors a thimble of spit.)
When I calmed down I thought about why I was so worked up. What the hell is wrong with you? I asked myself. Well, I just don’t like that over-privileged, whiny bitch, I replied.
But that wasn’t it. So was I just jealous? Was I jealous that she lived a life from a very early age that I could only dream of as a glum teenager on a soggy little island in the Pacific Northwest? She was going to fancy Manhattan dinner parties covered by the New York Times when I was going to sloppy, rainy keggers in the woods? Or was it that she was in fact “the voice of her generation” and I am not part of that generation?
But when I watched her hobbling unsteadily in her heels on her way up to the microphone to accept her Emmy, I spat out rude comments about her weight and lack of grace. And I realized that my problem with her goes much deeper. It’s more that I’m a senior in high school and she’s a freshman…but she didn’t go through the hazing ritual.
The thing is: I have been uncomfortable with my body since I was 12-years-old and my dad looked over at me in a pair of shorts and said, “Check out Thunder Thighs!” He promptly put me on a diet. When I was 16, he put me on prescription diet pills, which made me jittery and sleepless. For a while, I weighed just over 100 pounds and my dad was very proud of me. I’ve been on and off diet pills ever since, even if I haven’t weighed 100 pounds in many, many years.
So I have always cringed when I look at my body in a full length mirror, grimaced in dressing rooms and felt sorry if in fact there were security guys watching behind the mirror. Poor guys, I think. Having to look at flabby me in my hideous, stretched out, laundry day underpants. I picture them nudging each other as they munch on sandwiches and drink coffee saying, “Damn. We should get combat pay for this shit.”
Obviously, I’ve never felt comfortable at the beach or pool. I will wear crazy, sparkly sarongs, flower-festooned hats, big rhinestone-embellished sunglasses, a neon sign with an arrow pointing in another direction–anything to distract you from my body.
From my earliest sexual experiences, I’ve dreaded getting up to go to the bathroom afterwards, trying to find clever ways to sneak away without being noticed. Not even for me…but for him. Poor guy, I think. No man should be subjected to my revolting body. How embarrassing for him that he just fucked someone with thighs like mine. I worry about a male thought process that goes something like:
“Ahh. Yeah. That was great…Well, it was okay. Not the best. She gives really bad head. Whatever. I got laid. Better than watching Law and Order reruns. Sort of. [Then I get up to go to the bathroom] Whaaaa? Holy shit! Look at those thighs! Ewww. That sneaky little bait and switching bitch!”
(Yeah, somehow I imagine my fat thigh camouflaging skills to be so thorough that guys have no idea what they’re dealing with until I’m vulnerable and trying to slink off to the bathroom unnoticed to scrub out my box.)
So when Lena Dunham is willing to proudly showcase her body (which isn’t much different than mine) in such an open and honest way, I think:
How dare she! How dare she not hate her body like I hate mine! She should be coated, slathered, basted in self-loathing just like me, damn it! You’re supposed to be ashamed of your chubby thighs, not put them on display for everyone to see. And you sure as hell shouldn’t get paid to do that! How dare she be that heavy and play a character who actually has an active sex life, and isn’t some jolly, sexless clown like Natalie on “The Facts of Life”!
Moreover: How dare she accept herself so fully at her young age when I still can’t accept myself now?
So I’ve come to terms with Lena Dunham.
(Yeah, I know. I bet Lena with her Emmy and multi-million dollar book deal would be quite relieved to know that a jackass like me has had this revelation.)
I’m even enjoying the show now and appreciating its fresh perspective on NYC, which is nothing like mine.
But that’s the whole point.
As for my thighs…I’m still working on it.