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Sat Jul 04 01:44:19 SAST 2015

Minimal diversity, big on bravery

PEARL BOSHOMANE | 10 December, 2012 00:01
NAKED AMBITION: Lena Dunham is the writer, director and star of the acclaimed HBO series 'Girls'
Image by: CARLO ALLEGRI/REUTERS

I'VE written about Girls before. However, this column isn't so much about the show itself, but rather about its star, Lena Dunham.

Not only does Dunham play lead character Hannah in HBO's latest critics' darling, but she is also the creator, director and principal writer.

Produced by Judd Apatow (Knocked Up, The 40-Year-Old Virgin), the show has received as much attention for its content as it has for the woman who stars in it.

Dunham comes across as self-deprecating and intelligent to some, and as self-obsessed to her critics. She has been praised and picked apart.

Her portrayal of young women's lives hits you like a fist in the gut: awkward sex, tumultuous friendships, being broke, trying to break free of society's expectations and trying not to sponge off your parents. Oh, and being sexually harassed by your male boss.

The main attraction on Girls, aside from Dunham's sharp and raw writing, is the way she displays her body for the world to see.

She is short and pear-shaped. She has cellulite and fat rolls. She looks like people I know, and someone I see in the mirror on my bad days.

Dunham's bravery (it really is) has earned her praise and the "feminist icon" tag. It's also earned her criticism, with The New York Times writing: "Gloria Steinem went to the barricades for this?"

The biggest criticism levelled at Girls is about its lack of racial diversity. All of the show's main characters are white, which has upset everyone from blogs like Jezebel to the Huffington Post.

I concede there is some merit to it, as I am a black female in South Africa (as are my close circle of friends), but I can still relate to the characters.

I suppose, Lena Dunham that is what happens when your character declares herself "the voice of my generation".

No pressure.

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