All Articles Tagged "Lena Dunham"
A couple of the ladies over here at MadameNoire have been pretty open about our admiration of Lena Dunham and her show Girls. But our appreciation is not blind. And recent excerpts from Lena Dunham’s newly released book Not That Kind of Girl have us all calling foul.
In her book, Lena Dunham describes what reads like a mild obsession with her younger sister. But it’s the way she expressed this obsession and the way she describes in it retrospect that literally have our mouths twisting and our stomachs churning.
Recently a website called Truth Revolt published this excerpt about a 7-year-old Lena and her 1-year-old sister Grace.
“Do we all have uteruses?” I asked my mother when I was seven.
“Yes,” she told me. “We’re born with them, and with all our eggs, but they start out very small. And they aren’t ready to make babies until we’re older.” I look at my sister, now a slim, tough one-year-old, and at her tiny belly. I imagined her eggs inside her, like the sack of spider eggs in Charlotte’s Web, and her uterus, the size of a thimble.
“Does her vagina look like mine?”
“I guess so,” my mother said. “Just smaller.”
One day, as I sat in our driveway in Long Island playing with blocks and buckets, my curiosity got the best of me. Grace was sitting up, babbling and smiling, and I leaned down between her legs and carefully spread open her vagina. She didn’t resist and when I saw what was inside I shrieked.
My mother came running. “Mama, Mama! Grace has something in there!”
My mother didn’t bother asking why I had opened Grace’s vagina. This was within the spectrum of things I did. She just got on her knees and looked for herself. It quickly became apparent that Grace had stuffed six or seven pebbles in there. My mother removed them patiently while Grace cackled, thrilled that her prank had been a success.
And then Glamour pulled this quote.
‘As she grew, I took to bribing her time and affection: one dollar in quarters if I could do her makeup like a “motorcycle chick.” Three pieces of candy if I could kiss her on the lips for five seconds. Whatever she wanted to watch on TV if she would just “relax on me.” Basically, anything a sexual predator might do to woo a small suburban girl, I was trying.’
Lena also included another story where she masturbated while her sister was in bed beside her.
If you know Lena Dunham’s brand of art, you know that there’s a lot of shock value involved, a lot of pushing of the proverbial envelope. She’s naked all of the time, in an attempt to challenge people’s perceptions of a what a normal body looks like. She’s different and quirky. And I’ve understood most of it. But there’s a difference between sharing a quirk and putting what sounds like family dysfunction on display of the world to read and pretending like it’s normal.
First, I don’t want to label Dunham as a sexual predator or liken her to Woody Allen as others have suggested. Lena recounts her mother explaining the female anatomy to her. So she was curious. I get that. My mother owns and operates a daycare. I’ve heard plenty of stories. Children do those types of things, unsettling things. There’s this whole thing about children “playing doctor” and sons asking their mothers about their sister’s lack of penis. Most of the time it’s innocent. As I believe Lena’s exploration may have been. But there are so many troubling elements in the retelling of this story. First, there’s the fact that she wrote her sister “didn’t resist.”
Ummm…she was a one-year-old.
And then there’s this business about a one year old being cognizant of not only the location of her vagina but having the motor skills to insert six or seven pebbles into it.
It sounds virtually impossible.
But what strikes me more than anything is Lena’s mother’s response to all of this. “My mother didn’t bother asking why I had opened Grace’s vagina. This was within the spectrum of things I did.”
Nothing will rock a celebrity’s life–or headline–quite like a scandal. What can we say, today’s society loves getting the tea on notable figures. Unfortunately, not all gossip and allegations revolve around the type of drama we consider to be entertaining. There are certain scandals that are so appalling you hope they aren’t true. Here’s a look at 10 celebrities involved with claims of sexual abuse.
With so many people going under the knife for plastic surgery to fix a flaw or starving themselves to death to conform with Hollywood’s super skinny standard, it’s refreshing that these celebs embrace their flaws.
We don’t consider a gap a flaw but at one time “Orange is the New Black” actress Uzo Aduba did. Thankfully, her mother set her straight about her look and the fact that it’s connected to her Nigeria roots and she never thought twice about it again.
Television has been pretty “ratchet” for years, it’s just that some of the supposed ratchetness gets called out and others get Emmy nominations…
What I’m talking about is the fact that recently I lifted my ban on HBO’s “Girls,” which was instituted because of Lena Dunham. (I detailed my concerns a while ago here.) During season three, I watched somebody ejaculate on somebody else. On television. More specifically Lena Dunham’s ex-boyfriend Adam made his new girlfriend Natalia, crawl to his bedroom on all fours before aggressively having sex with her and relieving himself on her chest. While we didn’t see any peen, we definitely saw its handiwork. The entire scene was awkward and, considering that the girlfriend didn’t seem to enjoy it, slightly degrading.
With that said it wasn’t pointless. Any former and current sexually active woman probably can tell you that it ain’t all great sex. Once in a while, particularly when you are younger and exploring boundaries, there are some really awkward and flat-out sexually humiliating moments, which makes us feel bad afterwards. Therefore being honest about what women experience during sex in itself is not inherently bad and can present itself as a learning (or unpacking) opportunity. My question though that knowing how prudish we sometimes tend to be about these sorts of discussions, how did it even make it on television?
According to this Slate piece from last year entitled, A Seminal Moment, Aisha Harris writes that it almost didn’t make it. In fact:
“The biggest fight we’ve ever gotten in with HBO was about a cum shot, a money shot. They thought it was really gratuitous,”Jenni Konner tells The Hollywood Reporter. “They begged us not to do it. We said, ‘OK, fine.’ Then the next year, we had a story-motivated, emotional money shot, and they let us keep it. It really felt like we all grew together.”
In the same piece, Harris also writes about how the “money shot” has been performed on television before, albeit it’s still quite rare. The short list includes: a late 90s, BBC documentary; HBO’s other hit show about sexually active women in New York City called “Sex and the City”; and on the Showtime series “Californication.” So in retrospect, the “Girls'” sex scene is not the groundbreaking television we might have thought it to be. At least not for white women.
Black women have yet to experience a true sexual awakening in film and in television. There I said it.
And it’s not like there hasn’t been a black woman in the history of black people, who hasn’t tasted semen? I mean, sex (if done right) is pretty out there. But in film and television, our sex lives are pretty conservative, if they exist at all. Sure, we may allude to it; and we may even have a scene or two where we see our ebony lovers intertwined and rolling around together in the sheets. But there are always sheets – you know, to hide all the secret parts. And the closest the viewers actually get to their actual love making is the follow-up scene where they awakened the next morning with hair tussled.
On television and in film, we are only supposed to be respectable people. At all times. Even in those instances when the show itself is produced by a black person, we are only supposed to show black relationships, which resemble Claire and Bill Huxtable, who never had sex even though they had a gang of children. Even with the majority of real life dark skinned consenting adults engaging in sexual relationships outside of the confines of marriage and/or procreation, on television the most we allow is a kiss with mouths closed and the family lip syncing about taboo topics around the Thanksgiving table. That’s what “Reed Between the Lines” was. That what “For Better or Worse” was supposed to be too. And then there was “The First Family.” You get no more Cosby-esque than that. And for the most part, those shows are boring, and they don’t last long. Mainly because the real The Cosby show is on Netflix…
And while the vast majority of television is swimming in large vats of debauchery and mayhem (also known as shows with plots and drama, which is normal of television), black folks’ scripted cinematically are still trying to maintain a morally righteous image of ourselves. Of course the exception are reality shows. But we shun those for the very reasons that many of us tune in to watch shows like HBO’s “Girls.”
And at whose expense does this happen? And how do we limit ourselves creatively if we shy away from images of ourselves, which are slightly perverse and subversive?
Often times it means that black centered film and television lacks the same level of openness and diversity meanwhile our mainstream counterparts’ with their vast expression of real life experiences become television shows, which everybody enjoys including black folks. Then we lament how black centered film and television lacks the same level of openness about human behavior. And realness. As such black folks can’t be “Breaking Bad” because that is just promoting crack. We couldn’t be “The Sopranos.” Nope that’s like promoting gang culture and y’all know we have that bad incarceration rate. We can’t do “Game of Thrones” either because…well don’t be disrespecting the ancestors like that. Even our beloved “The Wire” was created and scripted from outside of the community. It’s no wonder those shows, written and produced for mainly non-black audiences, become the stand-in for all, meanwhile our stuff becomes more niched to the after-church service crowds.
And it is not necessarily the fault our black filmmakers and writers, although folks could be a little braver in their own storytelling. But in spite of our political and social advancements including the election of the first black president, and proclamations by this younger generation of colorblindness, culturally “we” still care very much about how white folks see us – even when the odds are they can’t tell most of us apart. Even with the odds that since slavery, black women had to endure contradictory stereotypes like Mammy and Jezebel and no matter what we do, they still persist. To me that sucks and it is not how we should be forced to live.
Not just for film but because why are white girls the only ones who can f**k and suck on television while also maintaining legitimacy as feminine, good mothers and virtuous women? Why did we cheer for Carrie Bradshaw and Mr. Big in ways that we can’t for Mary Jane or Olivia Pope? Why must normal and healthy sex on black skin be seen as depraved?
And this is not a matter of doing something because white people do it. This is acknowledging that there is a remote possibility that someone black might do those things too. And white folks don’t have the monopoly on freaky sex. And this is also about the resentment, even envy, which comes from other women being able to publicly talk about all the joy and confusing proclivities around sex without having to worry about how such representation would affect her credibility, professional or romantic prospects. At some point we have to realize how much we (yes, including other black women) have become the guardians and gatekeepers of some of our own oppression.
Idris Elba met Lena Dunham of HBO’s “Girls” while they both were guests on UK’s “The Graham Norton Show” earlier this month, and wasted no time in trying to cash in on their introduction.
The “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” star tweeted afterward:”@lenadunham Very funny woman. Can I come do a scene on your show?”
Joking about a topless photograph of himself which he accidentally tweeted recently, he added: ”i promise, NO selfies…:)”
Read more about Idris appearing on GIRLS at EurWeb.com
Only One Real Carrie: Sarah Jessica Parker Speaks On Why The “Carrie Diaries” Is “Odd” To Her, And SATC Paving The Way For “Girls”
Fashion and television icon Sarah Jessica Parker sat down with Net-A-Porter’s The Edit magazine to speak about more than just personal style, and she decided to open up about the road Sex and the City paved for Girls, and how she really feels about the CW bringing you a whole different version of Carrie Bradshaw via The Carrie Diaries (are you even watching?).
While The Carrie Diaries is a cute show, it doesn’t seem that Sarah Jessica Parker is a big fan of it. She didn’t outright tell the magazine that she didn’t like it, because she’s a fan of the young lady who plays a young Bradshaw, AnnaSophia Rob, but it’s definitely not what SJP was expecting. When asked how she felt about the new portrayal of her iconic character, Parker says, “I’m not so sure.”
“You know, I think it’s one of those tests of your generosity,” Parker continued. “[Robb] is a lovely girl and I want her to feel good about it, but it’s… odd.”
Just as a reminder to all though, The Carrie Diaries is of course from the book of the same name by Sex and the City writer Candace Bushnell, so it’s definitely not a random out of the blue concept (and in fact, the book is pretty good–bought it for my diehard SATC stan sister). Therefore, Parker just might be creeped out by watching another person embody the character she brought to life. As for the legacy of Sex and the City, Parker says she’s hesitant to say it gave a voice to a generation of women, but it definitely let the stories of many women be told in a more frank manner.
“I think it certainly encouraged women to share more candidly,” she said. “I don’t know if it empowered women. I hesitate to say whether we were the pioneers or whether we gave voice to something that was there, but I recognize there was a connection.”
And this candid way of doing things definitely influenced Lena Dunham and the whole Girls series (and honestly, it probably also did so for shows like Girlfriends, movies like Bridesmaids and more). SJP says the influence is specifically around women playing a larger role in production of these stories on these shows, like Parker having a behind-the-scenes role outside of just being Carrie Bradshaw on Sex and the City. It definitely allowed other women to do more than just be a small-screen star.
“HBO was very encouraging of the beyond-camera role I played, and I feel that had we not done it, I don’t know that would have existed for ‘Girls.” It’s a such a different way of thinking and it’s not conventional. I also think Dunham came along understanding her voice and with the support of a producing partner Judd Apatow experienced enough to say she is capable of this, she needs to be in charge of the story as it’s her voice. I do feel ‘Sex & The City’s’ success made that possible, and it would have been different otherwise.”
She definitely has a point. But what do you think? And what do you think about the prequel to SATC, The Carrie Diaries?
You know how some argue that people who swear lack the vocabulary necessary to have an intelligent conversation? I’m starting to think comedians who rely solely on racial epithets to cause controversy lack the comedic talent to garner that same attention otherwise.
Lisa Lampanelli the same comic — term used loosely — who famously — term used loosely again — commented on Larry the Cable Guy’s catch phrase “Git R Done, during a 2009 roast,” saying “You’ve beaten that concept so hard it’s now dating Chris Brown,” again has people’s PC panties all in a bunch, and for good reason in my opinion. Two days ago, she tweeted the above photo with the caption:
(Oh and FYI, the asterisks are ours, she shamelessly spelled the n-word out)
I don’t know much about Lampanelli outside of her routine comedic controversies that always seem to involve black people for some reason and, truthfully, I don’t have much desire to. I honestly wouldn’t care if Lampanelli really did look at all black people like n*gg*rs, in fact I’d probably prefer that she was a 51-year-old Connecticut-bred racist. See racists, I can deal with. What bothers me here is Lampanelli isn’t talking about black people at all, she’s referring to a white girl of all people, and asserting her white privilege to refuse to be banned from using the n-word like all those other n-words, I mean black people do. You mean we’re back on the rules of the n-word debate again? Yup, I’m taking it back there.
Firstly, though, I should explain that I’m sure all that didn’t go through Lampanelli’s head when she captioned this pic two days ago — evidence of white privilege itself — I’m quite certain, disappointingly so, that at 50-plus she still thought being able to type the n-word and post it on social media was cool like a 13-year-old smoking a cigarette for the first time. But her refusal to take the caption down and the boastful nature of her Twitter timeline as it relates to the controversy that has erupted as a result screams, “now I’m even more cool because black people and socially conscious whites who otherwise wouldn’t care that I was breathing are now googling my name, go me!”
I guess — not. The only thing funny about Lampanelli’s move is that she thinks she’s winning, when in reality her name will soon fall to the bottom of Google’s analytics very shortly and once again no one will care about her or her n*gg* whom she enthralled in this mess with her. And considering the drama that has already plagued “Girls” and their lack of diversity, Dunham might want to reconsider who she associates herself with. But then again maybe not, after all in the infamous words of Jen the Pen, she’s white and it will get done — it possibly being the Golden Globe she won just a few weeks ago.
You could say why even dignify Lampanelli with a response, and I would half agree with you there. Except I feel it’s only right to spread the message of just how much her antics prove she’s really losing, that is before she fades into obscurity once again and another white person who wants to be down — or try to come up — goes the “lets offend an entire race of people to gain fame route again.” Honestly guys — and gals — it’s played out.
Girls is a perfect example of how complicated television viewing can be for black folks.
I will admit to liking the show. In fact, I have watched it faithfully since giving in to my curiosity, somewhere through the first season. It’s a good show, one I almost missed by feeding in exclusively to all the criticism. This is not to suggest that the critics aren’t right: calling itself the voice of a new generation is basically challenge-accepted from the blogosphere to find out ways in which it is not. And anyone with a Netflix account and a modest knowledge of Sex and the City, Golden Girls, Designing Women, Girlfriends and a whole host of shows largely centered on the intimate lives of four women, will already cite that this “voice” has long been inter-generational. But at least it is set in Brooklyn – Oh wait, so was Living Single…
Although Girls’ overworked concept is as fresh as day-old orange juice and bagels, the show is not without its charming originality. First and foremost, Hannah, the title character played by the show’s own writer/producer Lena Dunham, is short, frumpy, has a double chin and has more gut than butt. These television anomalies not only challenge how we define Hollywood beauty, but also make Hannah in some ways, a pioneering figure. In addition to being the atypical protagonist of a show centered around the dating and sex lives of women, Dunham takes it to another magnitude by filming her uncharacteristic television body in the buff, appearing, at the very least, topless in just about every episode I’ve seen. When asked in an interview why she filmed so often without any clothing on, Dunham poignantly said that she wanted the world to, “Look at us until you see us.”
But despite Dunham’s aim to expand the range of women on television, one troupe which she, and the other members of the creative team behind Girls perpetuate, is this whitewashed and insular world where race doesn’t exist – even in Brooklyn. This is not in the sense of the common criticism about the lack of characters of color, which has been levied upon the show. While I understand how frustrating it is to have countless television shows centered around the lives of white folks’ ratchetness be labeled as revolutionary, and more specifically voices of a new generation, a story doesn’t necessarily have to have a central character of color to have some value. And while not the epitome-voice of the new generation, like it has been marketed, I think the clever writing and story lines does, in my opinion, warrant it being listed as one of many interesting and atypical contemporary voices.
Despite not being the sole onus of either the contemporary voice or television’s diversity problem, I still find it quite interesting how cued in the show’s creators are in wanting to challenging one-ism while being totally tone-deaf to the desire to see equal representation on the screen. For me, those two concepts go hand and hand. However I am a black woman. And Dunham is not.
In the second season opener, we see Hannah straddling Sandy, her new black Republican lover, topless and having at it. Sandy, who is played by Donald Glover. This is what you wanted, this is what you get? While clearly a middle-finger to her critics, it is not all that daring a nod to the race discussion she might have been hoping for. At this point in television history, what’s so shocking about a white girl having sex with a black dude? Miranda did it for an entire season on Sex and the City. One could mistakenly interpret this scene as an attempt, albeit lame, to be both dismissive and antagonistic to the critics. However, in the second episode, we are treated to more interactions with Sandy, some of which occurs outside of the bedroom. During one such occasion, Sandy and Hannah are discussing an essay of hers she had asked him to read. Sandy didn’t like it; Hannah is upset, but instead of coming at him for his dislike of her essay, she goes in on him about how irresponsible it is for him to be a black Republican, especially considering that “two out of three people on death row are black men.” The end of the scene involves the two breaking up and Hannah walking away from Sandy. This is the last time we see Sandy, and I suspect, the “race” issue.
Through this exchange, we see Dunham take a much more poetic response to critics, presenting to us the difficulties and awkwardness, which some folks, particularly white folks, might feel when race is interjected into the conversation. On one hand we have Sandy, whom outside of knowing his name and that he is black and republican, we really don’t know much about. However, that might be the point. Perhaps Hannah is so clueless and self-absorbed that she honestly doesn’t know that using statistics about the incarceration rate of black men as a weapon in an argument is just a tad bit racist. In a sense, Hannah could be one of those white girls who just doesn’t “get it.” And despite how irksome the real life Hannahs are, there is something very honest about seeing her (their) portrayals on television.
Or as Judy Berman, editor of FlavorPill, who penned this piece for the Atlantic, writes:
“What Dunham’s latest well-intentioned disappointment makes clear is that it will never be enough for white writers to simply try harder in their depictions of non-white characters. Some may produce keenly observed, authentic-feeling portrayals, but even those who have spent their whole lives surrounded by people of diverse backgrounds will never know first-hand what it’s like to be a person of color in America. They will never respond to Django Unchained in quite the same way as Haitian-American writer Roxane Gay. Those who don’t get it will, for the most part, continue to not get it. The truth, distasteful as it may be to those who imagine that we live in a “post-racial” era or believe it’s small-minded to apply identity politics to art, is that we still haven’t reached a point in our history at which the discrepancies between the way people of different races (or genders or religions or sexual orientations) experience life are negligible.”
But while Hannah may not “get it,” I’m not sure that I can say the same for Dunham. Sometimes some folks are keenly aware of what they do and say and are just really sophistic in caring about the effect that it has on people. Some folks, in fact, are very comfortable in their privilege, which doesn’t require them to answer or even be responsive specifically to race, gender or where they might intersect. For instance, in an interview with Alec Baldwin on his podcast, Dunham criticized Rihanna for her relationship with Chris Brown and smoking weed, and then said that she is not a good role model for young women. According to US Weekly, Dunham also says that she “had to become more conscious about what I say and what I promote, not in a way that stifles me, but just in a way where I realize now that there are 17-year-old girls who come up to me and tell me that the show means a lot to them.”
In the matter of a season and half of Girls, I have seen a character accidentally smoke crack; intentionally sleep with a gay dude; almost have a threesome; do coke for the sheer experience of writing about it; and affectionately be peed on in the shower by a boyfriend. It’s hard to play the role model card when your entire representation of a new generation hinges on women, who are one bad decision away from being crack w***es. Likewise, I find it highly unlikely that Dunham cannot recognize, or even find some commonality with, Rihanna’s own growing pains, and that experienced by characters of her hit television series, which is said to be based upon her life and the lives of friends in her social circle. On television, fictional Hannah deserves our empathy or at least understanding. In real life, Rihanna does not. That’s why it is almost laughable when Dunham speaks of looking, “…at us until you see us.” Like, what version of “us” does she truly believe the television viewing audience has yet to accept and acknowledge?
You might have noticed by now that we here at Madame Noire are fans of the HBO series “Girls.” We frequently discuss plot, character development, relatability and predictions with fervor. We agree that even though the show lacks– or lacked– any characters of color, that it is a great show. (Our own friendship circles lack diversity as well.) Our assistant editor even asked for the first season for Christmas. We friggin love it. What makes it so genius is that after college, in our early to mid twenties (essentially the life I’m living now), there is so much uncertainty. So many mistakes made, friendships tested and minor or major freak outs along the way. We can see all of that in Hannah’s story. We see ourselves, even though she’s not black like we.
In last week’s episode, Hannah had an interaction with her new boo thang Sandy, played by the much beloved Donald Glover. In that particular one, Lena Dunham held up a mirror and I saw my reflection oh so clearly. If you’re a fan of the show and you haven’t seen this episode, you’ll want to stop reading now. Because it’s about to be spoiler city.
In the episode, Hannah decides to ask Sandy to read one of her pieces. A few days go by and he hasn’t said anything about it. When Hannah tells her friend this, she says quite frankly, If he hasn’t read it, he doesn’t care enough about you to read it.
But it’s the realness only a really good friend can deliver, so Hannah goes to Sandy and asks him why he hasn’t read her piece. He sighs before telling her that he did read it…he just didn’t like it. He kept reiterating that he thought it was very well written but it just wasn’t his thing. Even though Hannah and Sandy seemed to have little else in common. (Sandy’s a Republican. Who actually prefers to acknowledge his blackness instead of “play colorblind” like Hannah.) The fact that he didn’t like her writing was the straw that broke the camel’s back. She walked out on him and the D she was expecting to get that night.
I watched the episode, almost cringing. The situation was just too [painfully] familiar. So when my sister’s boyfriend, who was watching the episode with us, wondered why Hannah was so upset, I might have overreacted and been crunker than necessary in explaining
my Hannah’s feelings.
Me: Naw, if he doesn’t like her work then they’re not going to work out.
Him: So, if a man doesn’t like something you’ve written then you can’t continue to date him?
Me: It’s not that he didn’t like it. If a man has constructive criticism for my work, I might not like it, but I’ll appreciate it. He didn’t have any suggestions to make it better. He said it was well written. It was that he didn’t like what she was writing about. If she’s going to write about something then that means she’s passionate about it. And if he doesn’t like what she’s passionate about, then it’s not going to work.
Whew Jesus. I had to remember this wasn’t my life or my work that I was defending. It just felt like it. It wasn’t that long ago when I was sitting in a similar situation. It wasn’t that my “Sandy” didn’t like what I wrote or even the way I wrote it. It was that it would take him forever to read it. I’d send it, a day or two would go by, and I’d ask if he’d read it. “No…not yet.” A week… the same response. Every time I sent something, and I’d get that response, my faith in the relationship would decline. In his defense, he would eventually read it, it just took too long, sometimes a month. I’d often wonder if I was overreacting, if I was being impatient. I’m still not entirely sure; but today, I’m leaning more towards no. I mean dang. Writing is what I’ve decided to do with my life. It’s a skill I’ve honed since childhood. It’s the form in which I express myself the most clearly and authentically. It’s my mind, my ideas… me on paper…or a computer screen. If you cared about me, why wouldn’t you read it as soon as you got a little free time? It particularly bothered me because I know, though I wasn’t perfect, that I at least supported and encouraged his dreams and aspirations, anytime he wanted to talk about them. I was always there to lend an ear when he needed it. I didn’t say, “Can we talk about this later?” or zone out while he was speaking about his goals. Why couldn’t I get an eye for an ear? A little reciprocity?
Hell if I’ll ever know. But I do understand why Hannah had to be out.
Have you ever had a man who you felt didn’t support your dreams or talent? Were you able to work through it or did it eventually cause you to leave?
I didn’t watch the Golden Globes over the weekend. But if I knew how entertaining they were going to be… I was just about to lie; I still probably wouldn’t have watched them. But anyway, on Monday when clips of the most memorable moments from the show were being played, I noticed that there was a clip of Girls creator Lena Dunham hobbling up the stairs and across the stage to accept her award. As my coworkers and I watched the painful footage, someone mentioned something about the matronly nature of her dress; but all I could think about was her walk. No bueno.
I shook my head, knowing that the dress and certainly the shoes were just not Lena’s style. And not because I would argue heels aren’t her thing– but because if you’re visibly uncomfortable and uncoordinated in a shoe, then it’s not for you.
Aaah but as I write about Lena Dunham, I also speak to myself. As a woman who’s just over 5 feet, heels can seem like a necessity more than an accessory. When you’re as short as I am you don’t want to go to the club to be bumped and bruised as people, who can’t see you, try to move past you. So what’s the solution? Throw on some heels. Yes my toes will be a little numb by the end of the night but at least that way I can be at least shoulder level with most patrons, even if I’m teetering the whole time.
Wearing heels for long stretcches–and maybe alcohol–is the reason we women have watched in horror or embarrassment as so many of our girlfriends, or we ourselves, have made contact with the sticky club floor or the unforgiving cement on our way home. Heels, unlike boots, are not made for walkin’.
And yet we still love them.
I remember the debate I got into with one of my male friends one night. We were on the subway one evening when we noticed a group of girls in short freak em dresses and high heels. He looked at them and sized them up before leaning over to suggest that women who step out in high heels were somehow desperate for attention, even at the expense of being unstable and therefore unsafe in case anything popped off.
Even though I can recall several instances where I almost busted my face open walking down cement steps in heels, I found myself getting very defensive. Because sure heels aren’t the best in a pinch but just because a woman chooses to wear them on a night out doesn’t mean she’s desperate. It means she wants to feel pretty. It means she doesn’t want to be the short one in her circle of friends. It means that she wants her freshly shaven legs to glisten when the street lights hit them. It means she wants to feel powerful. And yeah, she might even want to be noticed. I was defensive even though I knew and my feet confirmed that heels have never really been our friend. Instead heels are like that girl you call a friend who’s not so secretly jealous of you. You can’t stand her but you keep her around and always defend her because she’s fun and you need someone to hang out with on the weekends.
That’s probably what Lena told herself as she slid her feet into the $945, black, peep-toe Louboutin pump that had her wobbling last night. I want to feel pretty. I want to feel powerful and that’s what women are supposed to wear.
Honestly, for a lot of women, myself included, there’s a sense of unspoken shame about not being able to walk in heels. It’s somehow unladylike. A true lady knows how to not only walk but strut in heels. It’s a skill we’ve tried to master since childhood. Beyoncé brags about having her first pair at the age of 13. Men ask us to keep them on in the bedroom and shoes with no heels are often regarded as casual, dressed down. Comfort be damned.
I remember during my senior year of college, in my African Literature class, we read this book, Praisesong For The Widow. If you’re not familiar, basically it’s a book about Avey Johnson, a woman in her sixties, who has to disconnect from her pristine image and adherence to societal constraints in order to find her roots and discover who she really is. Several times throughout the novel, they make mention of Avey’s high heels and how when she’s wearing them, she’s really not herself, not really seeing and relating to the world as she should. “”Freed of the high-heels her body always felt restored to its proper axis.”
If you’re one of those women who is as comfortable in heels as you are barefoot, then by all means continue to do you boo. But for the rest of us, let’s not always give in to the pressure to wear heels just because we’re expected to. There’s nothing wrong with staying grounded every once in a while.