Lena Dunham Victim to Joan Rivers Obesity Insults Defended by Howard Stern

Lena Dunham, Joan Rivers, Howard Stern, Obesity

Joan Rivers is not known for being a celebrity’s best friend, nor is she known for her subtlety, her open-mindedness, nor her ability to pass up an opportunity for a derisive, attention-grabby, celebrity slam. This time, it is Lena Dunham who takes the hit. During Rivers’ appearance on The Howard Stern Show Tuesday, March 25, she decided to pummel her repeatedly with obesity insults, which Dunham has been a victim to frequently in the media and is continually defended by her fans, her support staff, and the general concept of feminism.

Rivers’ remarks were so out-of-bounds, that Stern himself interrupted her to stick up for the young actress, writer, director, college graduate. Stern’s good-naturedness was a bit of a shock, considering last year he had slammed Dunham himself, calling her “a little fat girl who kinda looks like Jonah Hill.” Stern did apologize at a later date when she called into his show.

“I think the thing we love about her is that she doesn’t give a s—,” Stern explained.

Rivers’ ridiculed Dunham’s skirt length, intimating that she is not skinny enough to wear a dress cut above the knee. Rivers’ concludes that since the young star is comfortable enough with her body to wear whatever she likes, Dunham is therefore sending the wrong message to today’s female youth. Unless Dunham starts trying to look better, Rivers is worried ladies are going to stop trying to look better. That they’re going to give up. Get fat. Get diabetes. Lose their fingers. Die. All over the place. Obviously, seeing this average shaped young women in a short dress is creating a domino effect only Joan can detect. Dunham’s “fat knees” are so scandalously inappropriate they are going to drive young girls into diabetic comas. What horror. Somebody, get Lena a pair of leggings!

Stern, 60, defended Dunham again as a result of the erroneous insults Rivers spewed regarding Dunham’s apparently ill-considered obesity and the merciless victims in its wake. Stern paraphrased for Dunham, saying: “That’s your thing. My thing is, ‘Hey. I’m free. I don’t sit and think about what you think or what anyone else thinks.’”  He even attempted to turn the mirror in on Rivers, “She would say to you, ‘Listen Joan, I’m not going to be the type of woman that needs to do the Botox and face lifts and all that stuff because I’m going to live my life the way I am.’”

Is the 80-year-old fashion police diva showing her age by being so appalled at a young woman’s knees? When did Rivers become so Puritan? Or is it simply that talking about Dunham’s recurring nudity in her hit show is such old news that Rivers needed to attack whatever body part of Dunham’s that was visible? Dunham’s choice to reveal herself “as is” in her HBO sitcom, Girls, has garnered a lot of attention, due to her “less-than” Hollywood-looking frame. Some viewers have critiqued her choice  to bare it all as being gross, while others have seen it as a tribute to honesty and a real mettle.

Rivers did make a backhanded attempt to try to relate to Dunham on a girl-to-girl platform. She claims that she loves the show, is happy for Dunham’s success as a funny actress, yet Rivers could not contain her arrogance in her special, wicked-step-mother sort of way. “Don’t let them laugh at you physically,” Rivers extends to Dunham. In this statement, not only is Rivers undermining a woman’s choice to become a physical comedian, but she is also completely off-base.  Dunham is not getting naked for a laugh. She gets naked, because that is how people take baths. That is how people have sex. Dunham has previously stated that her nudity is not intended to invite laughter, but an attempt to “depict life as lived.”

Throughout the media frenzy revolving around how Dunham looks naked, or just plain looks, she has remained collected with her integrity in check and generally un-phased by the controversy. She claims she is not forcing anyone to look at her body. They have a choice to look and a choice to decide how they are going to feel about what they see, nudity or not. The overall message is about positive body image. If Howard Stern can get the message and defend the rising star against Hollywood’s oldest curmudgeon, Joan Rivers at her most victim-shaming, obesity insults or not, Lena Dunham has already won the battle.

Opinion by Stacy Feder


3 Responses to "Lena Dunham Victim to Joan Rivers Obesity Insults Defended by Howard Stern"

  1. Jo Ann Petrosky   March 28, 2014 at 10:54 pm

    God for bid someone threw digs at here Daughter.Joan Rivers is the opposite of Lena,Old and bitter,Joan is a monster inside and out. She has no cocept of reality.

  2. Stacy Feder   March 27, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    I see your point about realism and nudity and “life-in-the-moment” being fairly represented, and I think there is some truth to Lena arguably putting herself in a position to garner the attention for a personal, or political, platform, but “flaunting” is different than being resourceful. I mean, her tactics are working. There are many feminists who have been trying to get issues on the importance of a healthy body image across in multitudes of other ways and have not been as successful. People have opinions on this issue and they talk about it. That’s great. There’s power in discussion. I would also argue that Joan’s comment is a publicity stunt for her agenda. Negative attention, still attention. Do you think Joan cares about what other’s think of her? You could argue that she is saying such slanderous things for the same reason as Lena is “flaunting” her naked body: promotion. Even if, I just happen to think some promotion techniques have more value than others. Being rude is completely unnecessary. It sets a horrible example and helps nothing. Being comfortable and naked in your own skin on the screen despite being a body copy of the conventional norm is progressive. Celebrities very rarely do it. Lena’s unhinging the expectation. If you want to argue she’s taken it too far, that’s another issue.

    Also, I just need to point out, actors get to choose how much of themselves they’d like to put out there. Perhaps it is in their contract that they cannot get more naked more often than Dunham, I don’t know. But Dunham writes the show and gets to do with her character as she wills. Also, it is your opinion that she is the least attractive of the girls. Even if the show is scripted to portray her in that way, why should that mean she should be naked less? Her character, Hannah, is ruthless, shameless, uninhibited, at times boundary-less, and narcissistic. Women in my life whom I have known that fit that definition tend to be way less self-conscious and, in turn, more careless with their nudity. There are personality types that just don’t care if you see them naked. They just don’t care. They’re not as struck by the skinny-or-die stigma that has made many woman ridiculously, and unfortunately, insecure. I think Hannah’s character believably fits into that category of personality. All I can say is, because of Dunham’s work with Hannah, I care much less what some guy in a bar thinks of me in a mini-skirt. But when I was thirty pounds lighter, like when I was a teenage girl, I thought my thighs were hideous, and I wanted to die. I think how women and girls view themselves, despite the gaze of the outward eye, is the shift Lena is working on here, and I support it.

    Thanks for listening-


  3. Allan Noik   March 27, 2014 at 12:45 pm

    Here’s why Lena Dunahm is being disingenuous – her’s is the least physically attractive of the 4 female leads, yet she is depicted naked the most. There is definitely an attempt on her part to “flaunt” her body and dare people to criticize her – she wants to draw out the criticism so she can become a feminist icon. If she was just deputing life as if happens, with all its nudity, we would see her cast mates naked on an equal basis.

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