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By Jess Fenton
13th May 2016

Sitting down to watch ‘Girls’ for the first time, you’re struck with a sense of awe, wonderment, borderline disgust, admiration and fear. Why? Because the characters are so relatable? No. Last time I checked, I’d never organised a gals day at the abortion clinic, nor had I ever compulsively googled STDs or made rape jokes to my perspective employer. Is it because all the stars are 11/10s that I can then stalk on social media obsessively and try to emulate? Is it because the actors are actually playing age-appropriate characters?* No. ‘Girls’ is a show about young women (a generation many fear to tread), written by a young woman, and she got it right. Don’t get me wrong, all four leading characters that make up the ‘Girls’ clan are horrible, entitled brats with absolutely no true sense of self and without a realistic view of the world they live in. We don’t want to be them, we certainly don’t want to become them, and we shudder at the idea that we once were them - and yet there are sparks of recognition that we dare not tell others about.

Even before ‘Girls’ premiered on HBO on the 15th April 2012, a then 25-year-old Lena Dunham had already achieved more than any man twice her age, let alone a woman in her mid-twenties. Already an indy filmmaker, the young creative was now the creator, writer, director, executive producer and star of a show on a coveted network with none other than Judd freaking Apatow by her side as producer and mentor. The eldest daughter of artists, born and raised in Manhattan, it’s no wonder Lena turned out the way she has. Her work unites critics, divides audiences, repulses internet trolls with her unabashed nudity, yet you can’t deny her strong voice, genius eye and ear... nor her enviable fearlessness. Lena wears her gender like a badge of honour, not a disability like most think one should (or would). She uses her body (literally) to break down stereotypes, social “norms” and haters. She wields her sexuality like a mighty sword forcing prudes to tremble before her, and she uses her voice to fight for LGBT rights, women’s sexual health issues, politics and social injustices. And yes, she does it all while possessing a vagina and breasts. Lena may be famous - and she’s certainly infamous - but in between producing a critically acclaimed and award winning television show, she fights for the underdogs of this world. While her fame may raise her voice just that little bit louder than others, it’s certainly not the reason why she does what she does. This well-educated liberal who sees what others won’t is a 5’3” powerhouse who is not a victim of her generation’s apathetic plague but a survivor and thriver of it. She not shy about her personal, emotional and spiritual stumbles as highlighted in her bestselling memoir ‘Not That Kind of Girl’, but she embraces them as they’ve led her to the person and accomplishments of today.

Lena has met her fair share of hatred and vitriol courtesy of our beloved internet and its anonymous “keyboard warriors” shaming the “fat and ugly” one at a time. Anyone who has seen even 10 minutes of ‘Girls’ will undoubtedly have seen a sex scene or two, usually involving Dunham. Lena is now infamous for her nudity and physique. Her body is the result of the current world we live in and her personal struggle with endometriosis, yet another setback Lena is passionately vocal about to help relieve the stigma. Like any strong female of today who doesn’t have the body of a stick insect, Lena has loudly and proudly advocated for the strength of her body and not its weaknesses. She’s fought anyone who’s told her to “cover up” or “put it away” with her incomparable wit, grace and smart mouth. In October 2015, Lena and her producing partner Jennifer Konner released the first issue of Lenny Letter - an online newsletter featuring essays, interviews, stories and editorials pertaining to all things female. Lenny Letter recently won a Special Achievement award at the Webbys, adding to Lena’s already impressive résumé.

And so on this 13th May 2016, our Lena celebrates her 30th birthday. Not long in the grand scheme of things, and yet so much has happened. Miss Dunham is a creator and star of film and television. She’s been a cover girl numerous times, taken home Golden Globes, a BAFTA and countless other awards thanks to her many talents and platforms. She’s a best-selling author and contributor to many publications. She’s a social media goddess, icon and Fairy Godmother to the “everyone else” - myself included. Her strange yet platonic romance with human foibles have made her the voice of a generation, the stalwart for feminism - and damn, that girl is funny! And before you Google it, yes, she’s even a member of Taylor Swift’s squad. *mic drop* Happy Birthday Lena. x

*Anyone else remember when a 26-year-old Scott Wolf played a 16-year-old orphaned alcoholic for 6 years?
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