Girls creator Lena Dunham came to SXSW not to talk about an upcoming project, but to focus on authenticity in media. Along with newly minted Glamour editor Samantha Barry, Dunham started talking about what authenticity means to her, which led to the criticism she has received since the start of her HBO series.
Dunham went from zero to 60 with her career. After the indie Tiny Furniture, she started to appear on the radar of Hollywood. But it was Girls that launched her into the stratosphere. Being put into the spotlight, Dunham, like many young actresses, was living her life under the scrutiny of the public.
Dunham said she didn’t see friends like hers or a body like hers, let alone the way Girls portrayed sex — which is why she created the show. “People want to see honest depictions of their own struggle,” she said.
That said, it’s no secret that Dunham has been criticized for her progressive, female-driven storylines. And, of course, there was the depiction of real-people nudity and sex that were outside of the Hollywood norms. On top of all that, her point of view shown through her show and media in general. This is when the criticisms came in.
When it came to her body, she was surprised to get the most vitriol from women who were similar to her. She also was slammed for not having enough diversity on Girls and was making headlines with gossipy bits of news. She admits that she has “struck out” with the audience that she cares about the most.
“I didn’t get into this to be a perfect celebrity role model,” she said. “I don’t know how to do it. That’s not my skill set.”
She’s come to terms and has grown from the criticisms saying, “I started to move away from the sense that I don’t need to have an opinion about everything.” She adds, “I think about what I say.”
With the criticism she has faced about diversity on the show, she said she came out with some of the most educational conversations of her life. She admits, “Criticism teaches you about yourself and your blind spots.”,