Lena Dunham's Essay For 'Seventeen' Redefines Regular & Here's Why That's So Important For Teenagers Today
Fact: I love Lena Dunham. I realize that it's a bold political statement somehow, one that warrants a weird amount of outrage and side-eyes, but I stand by it, and I'm constantly finding new reasons why. And now, here's another amazing reason: in a recent essay for Seventeen Magazine, Lena Dunham wrote about the moment she became a solid member of "Team Weirdo," and it's a short but inspiring tale for the 14-year-old outsider we probably all were at one point.
Dunham declares that this realization came way of a social experiment in her teen days as a "bona fide weirdo." One day, Dunham kicked off her yellow clogs, embracing instead straightened, hair, flared jeans, you know, eyeliner... you know, the works of what makes up an early '00s popular girl. Nothing super noticeable happened until she needed to borrow a pencil,and a classmate remarked to his friend that Little Dunham actually looked regular that day. It was then that Dunham returned to her weirdo ways, making an epiphany about the drollness of regular:
Who wants to be regular, especially if it means taking an extra 15 minutes on your hair? Or pretending that you're not rereading Madame Bovary again or not crazy about your rabbit? If regular means pretending you don't have passions and style, count me out. It's not worth the pencil.
Now, I feel this 110 percent. On a personal level, I spent many years — basically from 2003 to... now — as "that weird girl," sometimes "that weird goth girl," and on my best days "that weird hot chick." It isn't that I consider myself a special snowflake so much as I don't know many people in suburban New Jersey that shares my fascination of Victorian mourning procedures. I've grown to embrace the weirdness and be better for it now, but rest assured, people gave me a very hard time when I was my most emotionally fragile as a teen And it's really scary to think about how "weird" kids today, growing up in the thick of the Internet era, deal with teenage torment.
According to the i-SAFE foundation over half of adolescents and teenagers have been bullied online, and a third of teens have received cyberthreats. Being called "weird" has to be infinitely worse knowing that it doesn't end at the classroom. And as we all know, Dunham has been a lightening rod to controversy since Girls debuted in 2010, her unconventional ways leading to being body-shamed, accused of molestation, and bullied into pretty much needing to delete her Twitter account for peace of mind. From that experience, she speaks on how to deal with the criticism when you don't follow the crowd.
She recognizes that, as a human being, it's important to learn and grow from the thoughtful, smart, constructive criticism from those who care about your well-being. However, most criticism is not that, and it doesn't help anyone to listen to (and forgive me for using this term) the haters. "I want my readers and viewers to tell me if my work upsets them. But the criticism born of others' insecurities? Ignore that," she writes.
Dunham's essay can give a lot of hope to the weird girls of today. Not only does it boil down the platitude of "be true to yourself," but it further encourages us to not numb our personality, style, tastes and quirks for the amusement of others. It's hard not fitting in, kids, and sometimes harder choosing not to fit in. Dunham is telling young girls that, though it can be hard, making that choice may ultimately be better for you. Undoubtedly, her feelings of being an outsider has fueled her artistic vision, and oddly enough made Girls a show that makes us all feel just a little bit less weird about ourselves.
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