How nudity in 'Girls' is redefining standards of beauty

The HBO show is liberating to watch.

 |  3-minute read |   13-08-2016
  • ---
    Total Shares

For the first time in several years, I looked at myself in the mirror this morning and didn’t feel like I was desperately in need of exercise or a weight loss programme. I have Lena Dunham to thank.

I have been binging on Girls, which Dunham writes, directs and stars in, and it has vastly changed my perspective on my own body. Of course, I didn’t realise this until the mirror told me this morning.

The show (uncensored on Hotstar) has copious amounts of nudity. I have to admit, it felt unnecessary to have to watch Dunham's unapologetically bare, bulgy body in the beginning. And it seemed like they were trying too hard when an entire episode had our heroine Hannah Horvath (played by Dunham) insisting on dressing in no more than the tiniest bikini during their beach holiday.

Also read: Try loving, not labelling 

But why not, I’m able to ask myself in hindsight. If you watch something long enough, it becomes the norm. Yes, Hannah’s not-so-perfect body and her persistence with clothes that aren’t quite right for her body type soon become part of the narrative, but are also absolutely essential in drilling the point across to a generation of viewers made to believe in a very specific ideal.

girls_081316100600.jpg Girls has been compared to another HBO production, Sex and the City.

It’s funny that Girls has been compared to another HBO production, Sex and the City. Of course, there are similarities – it is also set in New York, follows the lives of four girls, and the lead is a writer. But Hannah Horvath is no Carrie Bradshaw-esque beanpole dressed in haute couture. She doesn’t nibble on a salad at brunch; she eats like she enjoys it and indulges every chance she gets.

Some might argue that Hannah isn’t in the healthiest shape. Yes, she is incapable of climbing a hill or running a mile. But she isn’t obese, just like Bridget Jones wasn’t. Unlike Bridget Jones, though, Hannah isn’t obsessed with changing herself to please anyone else.

Hannah is flat-chested and round-tummied, so her curves are probably not even in the "right" places (wonder what Shobhaa De will make of her in a sari), but she has a self-confidence that allows her to be as comfortable in size zero clothes outdoors as she is in her birthday suit behind closed doors.

Also read: Saris are for every woman, grace or seduction

In an interview, Dunham admitted that Hannah deals with a lot of problems, but none of them have to do with being a little overweight. Hannah’s physical appearance is not completely ignored on the show, but when comments are made they aren’t always nasty. Like when her grandmother appreciates how good she’s looking, she tells her it’s the 15 pounds she’s recently gained.  

If Sex and the City was supposed to be feminist in the way it treated women’s sexuality, Girls is liberating in the way it redefines beauty and the standards we are so bent on meeting.

Filming of the sixth and final season of Girls is currently underway and Dunham has been quoted wondering what she’ll do after the show is wrapped up.

If she doesn’t write roles for herself, will she be relegated to playing best friend of the bride or the unlikely spy? Let’s hope not.

Writer

Moeena Halim Moeena Halim @moeenah

The writer is associate editor for Simply Mumbai, a city-based supplement of India Today.

Like DailyO Facebook page to know what's trending.