This week, “Girls’ designer, writer and actress Lena Dunham announced the launch of the 11 Honoré x Lena Dunham Collection, its new “plus size” clothing line with the 11 Honoré brand. She celebrated the launch with several Instagram posts and one widely shared interview in The New York Times.
To be fair, 11 Honoré was barely on my radar, simply because the brands the company wears, including its own, certainly don’t include bodies like mine. I couldn’t wear a single thing from his site, and so do a lot of fat people.
the backlash against the limited size range of 14-26 was pretty straightforward. Now, to be fair to Dunham, I didn’t see her call her line “inclusive”. However, 11 Honoré calls itself a ‘size shopping site’ in its mission statement – while also listing a size range from 12 to 24.
Personally, I don’t think the term “inclusive” can apply to sites that cater to a limited size range that excludes both larger and smaller sizes. This position may be somewhat controversial, but to me ‘inclusive fashion’ sounds like a brand like SmartGlamour, by Mallorie Dunn, which has a preset size range from XXS to 15X, but additionally offers full customization of every piece sold, each made to order.
Simply put, the goal of ‘inclusive fashion’ should be to actually include every body type.
While this is a conversation worth having, it’s not what I’m here to talk about today. I want to talk about Dunham Times interview related to the launch of her collection – because her comments are incredibly problematic for someone trying to sell clothes to fat women.
Dunham apparently faced drug-related weight gain after battling what looks like a terrible case of COVID-19 last March. Anyone who has taken steroids for illness or injury knows that the side effects are terrible. One of them involves weight gain; another is swelling which is especially noticeable on the face, often mentioned like “moon face”.
Regarding her face and taking steroids, Dunham said, “I’m trying to be chin positive. I can face anything but a triple chin is a hard place to land. ” [Emphasis mine.]
Dunham may be the “ tallest ” in many rooms, but there’s no denying that compared to many of us, she enjoys enormous privileges when it comes to her height.
Yikes. This is problematic not only because when I look at Dunham I don’t see a ‘triple chin’, but also because even though she does, it’s due to drugs – not actual fat. If she were to stop the steroids, those pockets would go away.
Also, imagine how anyone with a ‘triple chin’ who probably can’t already wear Dunham’s clothing collection might feel reading this – not to mention anyone else enduring a ‘moon face’ because of it. steroids or chronic illness.
This touches on a major problem I have with the Dunham collection. Dunham says in the Times interview that his body settled around a 14/16. Since the average American woman is typically a size 16, Dunham’s height is, well, just that – average. Plus size, but barely.
By entertainment industry standards, Dunham could be considered “fat”. I have no doubt that she felt the noisy backlash of being in a bigger body in an industry that seems to consider “plus size” women when they only have a size 8.
In her personal and professional world, Dunham may be the ‘tallest’ in many venues, but there’s no denying that, compared to many of us, she enjoys immense privileges when it comes to her size – even if it I can not see him.
This touches on one of Dunham’s biggest problems; the one that is at the origin of many of its own controversies. It seems to exist in a bubble; his vision became myopic by virtue of the privilege. I guess that’s why, in a few sentences, when she talks about her belly, she informs us that this is where she has always gained weight.
She adds that especially after going through early menopause after her hysterectomy, she has “a straight gut, like an old man,” and adds, “This is not where no one wants to see flesh. It’s not like I’m posting a sultry nude of myself on Instagram, people will marvel at my beautiful butt.
I’m not sure exactly how we go from her self-perceived belly to her bare butt in this exchange, but here’s the problem: She is wrong. There is certainly a lot of love for big bellies and big butt (much much bigger than hers, I’ll add) on Instagram (and elsewhere).
Fat people can absolutely be sensual. We have great sex – and sometimes terrible sex – just like any thin person.
That’s not to say that I lack empathy for Dunham because, at least in this area, I don’t. I am absolutely not sure about your stomach. I am also gaining weight in my stomach, and to this day I struggle with these insecurities.
This insecurity is the reason why I always tried to wear shirts that completely cover my stomach, especially since I was gaining weight. That’s why I never wanted my stomach to be dressed, let alone naked, in photos. I’ve improved a lot by sharing photos showing I’m living my best (fat) life no matter how big my body is, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy all the time either.
“Freed” is a great word for whatever I want in my fat person way. I don’t need more neutrals.
I finally posted a photo of my bare belly (which is much, much bigger than Dunham’s) on Instagram one morning my dog was resting his head on it. I knew I was opening up to hate (I do this every time I write or post about being fat, to be honest – just read the comments which will definitely end up on this post. or one of my previous ones). And I felt incredibly vulnerable. But I also felt incredibly liberated.
“Freed” is a great word for whatever I want in my fat person way. I don’t need more neutrals (the Dunham collection is made up of neutral colors). I don’t want to be obsessed with “flattering”, because, let’s face it… people who are going to hate fats like mine won’t find any clothes that I wear “flattering”. I don’t want boring basic clothes. I don’t want ugly house dresses from my teens either.
Dunham makes things even worse when she, to quote the reporter’s unfortunate and probably intentional choice, “suddenly started munching on a sandwich,” which prompted her to comment: “It seems appropriate for this interview that I’m eating this big wand. ” Major cringe here. Please add to the stereotypes of people with bigger bodies eating a lot. We are not dealing with this enough already.
I get so many comments on how I should stop eating cheese burgers at fast food restaurants. I can’t even eat monster beef, thanks to the fucking gastric sleeve surgery I had in March 2018, and I rarely eat fast food at all. I see these comments and just think, “Pfft, I wish I could have a fucking cheeseburger. Now fuck yourself.
We (fat people) really don’t need someone with a much, much smaller body than most of us to add to this bullshit tale of how fat people eat, especially when trying to get us sell clothes (well – not to me, but to people taller than Dunham herself).
The truth is, despite his claims to the contrary, it doesn’t seem like Dunham is comfortable in his own skin at all. It’s understandable, as I said, to someone in their industry. However, perhaps before trying to sell clothes to fat people, she should have unboxed her own stigma of internalized weight.
It’s hard to separate his intentions from his words because, as I wrote before, you cannot separate the body of one fat person from the body of another fat person – and that includes yours. If you’re making fun of a fat stranger, you’re making fun of me too.
If you make nasty comments about your own body, it translates to people in bodies like yours – and people even taller than yours. This is a lesson Dunham clearly still needs to learn; I hope she will come to understand among the critics.
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