Monday, February 24, 2014

Girls: A Voice of A Generation Refuses to Put Down Her Body

(Please note: I wrote this post before viewing the February 23rd episode. If anything in said episode contradicts what I’m saying here, please picture my best “Roseanne Roseannadanna” imitation.)

When I last wrote about “Girls,” it was to complain about last season’s “fairy tale” season finale, with Adam rushing to rescue Hannah like he was some kind of skinny, goateed Prince Charming. I’m happy to report that this season, “Girls” seems to be returning to form, featuring four narcissistic, self-centered young women who can’t seem to catch a break for very long. And while Hannah has finally found a well-paying, corporate writing job she seems to be actually good at (although who knows how long that will last), no one has pulled her aside and given her a clue about the proper way to dress for the office, even though she’s working for GQ (advertorial, though, not editorial!)

Or maybe those conversations happen off-screen, I don’t know. I do find it strange that Hannah’s three skinny, fashionably dressed best friends have never pulled her aside and suggested an outfit more flattering for her body type. It is possible that these conversations have happened off-screen, and Lena Dunham has just chosen not to show them. It’s also possible that Jessa, Marnie and Shoshanna prefer a poorly dressed Hannah, because they look that much better standing next to her. (You know young women can be this catty. Admit it.)

Even more surprising, though, is that Hannah, who is so self-centered that she bores Shoshanna to tears talking about how she “bruises more easily than most people” is never shown standing in front of a mirror, complaining about her stomach. In fact, the clothes she wears implies that she is just fine with her body and thinks nothing of showing it off in a tiny bikini.

In an age where young people are bombarded with two separate but equally powerful messages – “Don’t become obese!” and “Don’t pay attention to those Photoshopped models or you’ll get an eating disorder!” – Hannah’s indifference to her body is refreshing. Sure, she’s a little flabby. If she wanted to go to the gym five times a week and count every calorie, she could probably get down to a size zero in six months or so. But she’s got better things to do. She’s got Adam, and her writing, and she’s a sensual girl who doesn’t want to deprive herself of the food she loves. And she’ll wear her bikini and she’ll dance with abandon, and if you make fun of her, she’ll be hurt, but she’s not going to change her clothes.

And I’m not so sure Hannah is alone in her attitude. I live at the beach, and it’s not so unusual to see a woman Hannah’s age who isn’t a size zero but who wears a bikini anyway. There aren’t many women my age with love handles who dare to wear a revealing two-piece, though. But we Gen X-ers have always been closely tuned in to media messages.

Centuries ago, women with Hannah’s figure were painted by some of the most famous artists in history. Now they are belittled and encouraged to hide their flaws. While I wouldn’t want to go clothes shopping with Hannah (I’d love to talk writing with her, though), I applaud her wholehearted acceptance of her body, love handles and all. If “a voice of a generation” decides to write about flaunting her muffin top, I hope the world listens.

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