I began watching HBO’s original television series, “Girls” with my best friend on a cold night on the couch in my California living room.
We were eating unhealthy amounts of food and wondering if we were the only 20-somethings who genuinely didn’t mind staying at home binge-watching television shows.
But, once we had successfully gotten through the entire series of “Girls,” we knew we were not alone.
Lena Dunham, the creator, writer and star of the show, has a remarkable way of making you feel like you are abnormally normal.
After watching her play a girl who is struggling to find her purpose in life in New York City, I felt that she was best friend, sister and mother all at once. The series shows you that world is f*cked up, but as long as Dunham is living in it, too, you are going to be okay.
Naturally, when her new memoir, “Not That Kind of Girl” was released, I was late to class because I was hunting down a copy for myself.
The book did not disappoint; I sat in Barnes and Noble hysterically laughing while people stared both at the book in my hands and at me. It was like I was reading my own diary in amazingly accurate detail.
Here are some things I have discovered about myself by reading Dunham’s candid and inspirational story:
Sanity is in the eye of the beholder.
So, you eat peanut butter and honey straight out of the jar and cry while watching “Perks of a Wallflower”? And you like to dance around naked in your apartment while singing into a hairbrush, pointing at yourself in the mirror and drinking vast amounts of wine? Dunham’s verdict: This is normal.
In her memoir, Dunham may seem like your long-lost twin because she does the same ridiculous things you do, and she is not afraid to tell the world about it. She is revealing about herself what all of us want to hide.
We think we cannot put our quirks on display because we will be looked down on, or even shunned. But Dunham doesn’t give a sh*t. She wants us to know that sanity and normality, in the rawest form, have absolutely no finite definition.
We determine what we think is normal, and no one has the right to judge us but ourselves.
Looks are irrelevant when it comes to being beautiful.
Dunham is not a supermodel; she is not a pageant winner, a sex symbol or even an ex-homecoming queen. But she proves to her readers that she is quite possibly the most beautiful woman on earth.
This comes from her knack for honesty and lack of sugar coating life; she will tell you like it is. She will show you her naked body, talk about things like anal sex and feminism and not be afraid. She will cut her hair ridiculously short and eat Ben and Jerry’s without the slightest intention of working out.
But she has a mission. She has a mission to make people around the world feel okay with being inadequate when it comes to our society’s insanely high standards for beauty, and she succeeds in doing this.
She is a pretty girl, but her real beauty comes from her retaliation toward the norm and her resilience in remaining true to herself -- regardless of how many times the world told her, "You’re just too damn different."
We’re all in this together.
In both “Girls” and “Not That Kind of Girl,” Dunham accentuates the daily life of a 20-something woman (whether it's via herself or her character on the show).
There are no huge explosions, steamy sex scenes or brigades of supermodel friends. The success of her show and book stem from her focus on the intricacies of life’s seemingly average events.
Little by little, the viewer and reader will attach to Dunham and her character because you can relate to the sheer monotony and simplicity of her life.
You root for her because she is the underdog. You root for her because she is just trying to find true love and get an exciting, pays-enough-to-cover-her-rent job. You root for her because she is you.
She has her good days and her bad, as she describes in her memoir, but in the bad days, she finds beauty and humor that seem to make them worthwhile. Dunham’s roll-with-the-punches attitude about life will inspire you to look at your own and think, 'This is all happening for a reason. I’ll get out of this all right.'
To be frank, Dunham is just like us. She knows how the average young woman lives and loves in the 21st century. She may not be Miss America, but she is surely deserving of that title.
She inspires all of us, every day, to embrace our individuality and love ourselves just as we are.
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