Saying that Lena Dunham is a polarizing figure may be a bit of an understatement. A glance at Dunham's mentions on Twitter or comments on her Instagram photos shows that there's really no in-between. Lena Dunham's Glamour cover is just further proof of how polarizing she can be — even if her message isn't quite so divisive.
For the February issue of Glamour, Dunham and Girls costars Allison Williams, Jemima Kirke, and Zosia Mamet appeared in stunning retro Marc Jacobs fashions. While all four women look beautiful on the cover, there was a notable element to the image of Dunham. As she turned to the side and posed, a bit of cellulite is seen on her upper leg. While it is barely noticeable, it is there, and no one from Glamour came in with a retouching tool to eliminate it.
Since the cover first hit news stands and the image began circulating online, reactions have been mixed, and it's not even the first time a Dunham cover image has made headlines. The root of the opinions, though, seems to vary greatly. There are those who love the cover and the message that it and Dunham are sending. Meanwhile, there are those who truly despise Dunham — cellulite or no cellulite — who are choosing to bypass the message and instead focus on the messenger.
The root of dislike for Dunham is difficult to explain because it's not always articulated completely. Dunham has obviously committed her fair share of snafus. From perceived racist comments about Odell Beckham Jr. to her most recent controversial comments on abortion, she's definitely able to spark conversation, and it's not always positive.
That's definitely clear from reactions to her Glamour cover. While response is mixed between those praising Dunham and those slamming her, the negative response relates to Dunham herself far more than to the message the image sends.
i'm mad that they left lena dunham on the cover https://t.co/4DhxbWKoAn— e (@frackowiang) January 4, 2017
Many are calling for a total kibosh on Dunham coverage.
Make Lena Dunham Irrelevant 2017 https://t.co/E3joWRkI7e— Ariana Marciel (@arianamarsupial) January 4, 2017
Some, however, seem more able to separate their dislike of Dunham in favor of the positive message she's sending. By not allowing Glamour to photoshop her cellulite, she's working to normalize a feature that the vast majority of women have — regardless of their weight. The truth of the matter is that no one should have batted an eye at the cellulite. The normalization of the idea of a perfect body is what makes the feature stand out. Dunham is working against that.
It's possible to separate Dunham herself from the message. Others, however, just support Dunham full force.
Dunham's confidence in her body is inspiring, but she's quick to point out that it's not brave. In an Instagram post, Dunham herself even explains that showcasing her body isn't brave. By calling it brave, people are essentially othering her body, placing it outside of the perceived norm — the standard women are held to. Doing so only continues the unhealthy cycle of the idealized woman that no one ever really achieves.
Now that the criticism is flowing on Twitter, though, fans of Dunham and of the cover are calling on the star to ignore the undue hatred.
Others are simply proud to see such a common — and non-embarrassing — feature be on the cover of a fashion magazine.
Responses to Lena Dunham as an actress and person are admittedly mixed. However, that doesn't negate the message that she's trying to send by not allowing her image to be photoshopped. Dunham is breaking the beauty standards that define women and normalizing the features that we all have. It's admirable — regardless of your feelings toward Dunham.