“If I can take what I’ve learned in this life and make one treacherous relationship or degrading job easier for you, perhaps even prevent you from becoming temporarily vegan, then every misstep of mine will have been worthwhile. This book contains stories about wonderful nights with terrible boys and terrible days with wonderful friends, about ambition and the two existential crises I had before the age of twenty. About fashion and its many discontents. About publicly sharing your body, having to prove yourself in a meeting full of fifty-year-old men, and the health fears (tinnitus, lamp dust, infertility) that keep me up at night. I’m already predicting my future shame at thinking I had anything to offer you with this book, but also my future glory in having stopped you from trying an expensive juice cleanse or having the kind of sexual encounter where you keep your sneakers on. No, I am not a sexpert, a psychologist, or a registered dietician. I am not a married mother of three or the owner of a successful hosiery franchise. But I am a girl with a keen interest in self-actualization, sending hopeful dispatches from the front lines of that struggle.”
I wanted to read this book for a long time. I’ve never watched Girls, Lena’s series on HBO but I knew her from social medias. I knew she had some feminist viewpoints and I wanted to know what she had to say. Her book promised to talk about love, sex, friendships and the relation we have to our bodies.
The latter was the part I liked best, and especially what it told about shooting nude scenes. As Lena says, people wouldn’t tell Blake Lively she’s brave for showing her naked body in films, but they tell Lena. This is evidence, if needed, that the beauty standards are everywhere. But all bodies have to be represented: bodies like Lena’s, bodies like Blake’s and all the other ones.
This doesn’t mean that everyone has to get naked in films. :-) But there is another problem nowadays: the representation of sex. What young people see in films (and I’m not only talking about porn) is misrepresentative of reality. This can lead to harmful situations and also lack of confidence.
So, if it’s brave for Lena to undress in front of the camera, it’s because it’s unusual to see bodies like her and because there is a meaning behind her action.
Some other issues in the book were more problematic. I really felt like Lena is trying to identify with all the kind of problems someone can have, physical problems such as diseases (AIDS or eating disorders for example), but also social integration problems.
What really strikes me is that, opposed to all these attempts to catch the attention, Lena has really few reasons to complain. She studied at university, has a family who loves her… And she’s rich. Lena seems to me like an unreliable narrator, she’s almost trying to make her life look like a novel. I’m sorry, but despite some interesting statements, Lena is very different from « the voice of a generation ».
Another problem was the chapter on her tendency to fall in love with men who talk and behave badly to her. I think it’s disrespectful and antifeminist as fuck.
However, as for the accusations towards her behaviour to her sister, I’m not as shocked as other people were. I interpreted it as children curiosity.
All the passages about the body really pleased me, and I can relate to the diet part (not the part in which she rejects veganism yet). The illustrations are a plus value and the book is an easy read. So I kind of enjoyed reading it. But I can’t help but feel disappointed because the woman behind the Lenny Letter project is far from faultless in her words.
It’s a shame because, at the very beginning of the book, I identified with her. I thought Lena had a honest and fresh voice. But soon, I started to find her egocentric.
My feels: 6,5/10
Not That Kind of Girl, Lena Dunham (+or- 7,71€)