This October we dove into HBO royalty Lena Dunham’s debut non-fiction work Not That Kind of Girl. If you haven’t read it yet, beware, because there are spoilers throughout!
Lena Dunham is an “It Girl” right now, so the release of her debut collection of essays couldn’t be more timely. Before I read the book, I had a love-hate relationship with Lena, as I do with most girls I admire in some way. She’s famous, so I was convinced that she couldn’t possibly be as cool or as normal as she pretends to be. The first third of the book basically confirmed this for me: lots of stories about doing weird things with weird people. It wasn’t just me qualifying them as weird — Dunham herself went to lengths to make sure that we knew that even she thought they were odd.
Then, things began to change, around the chapter about her experience with sexual assault. Everything up until then had been silly and playful and carefree, but her tone changed with this chapter and so did my opinion. She told that story so completely honestly — details about the whole event, including the parts that she still seems to blame herself for, and the fact that it’s taken her some time to actually acknowledge that what happened was indeed wrong. I felt like from that point on, I was reading a string of emails from a girlfriend — one who’s just as unique, and interesting, and more importantly, authentic, as my real friends.
Since receiving my Kindle as a birthday gift over 3 years, I’ve never regretted skipping the hard copy of a book … until now. Despite a lot of the book perpetuating Lena’s uber-hip, weird girl image, there are nuggets (which fully grow into sections, as you progress through the book) of SUCH wisdom. It was absolutely a chore to flip through a digital book to find quotes and type and save them in a word document for when I need them in the future, because I believe that I will.
The first quote in the book that really made me stop in my tracks was, “You are not made up of compartments! You are one whole person! What gets said to you gets said to all of you, ditto what gets done.” It’s simple, but it’s true and too often we try to brush off our hurt (or joy) about one part of our life by burying ourselves in another. See, there I go — saying that we have parts of our life. No, we have one, whole, complete life.
Another part that really got me was when she was describing how she has changed since she started dating Jack Antonoff: “But no matter what, nothing can ever be as it was. Everything has changed in a way that sounds trite and borderline offensive when recounted over coffee. I can never be who I was. I can simply watch her with sympathy, understanding and some measure of awe.” For some reason, in our current culture, it’s not cool to be head-over-heels in love. As someone who is, I found it refreshing that Dunham took time to address this.
In summary, to all the self-proclaimed “weird, yet stunningly beautiful and put together” girls out there (ahem, Taylor Swift and Jennifer Lawrence) — I’m not buying it. But after reading this book, I think Lena Dunham just might be the real deal.
I hope you enjoyed Not That Kind of Girl! For November, grab yourself a copy of #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso — we’re sticking with a strong female theme on CC Book Club right now.