Lena Dunham On Hillary Clinton’s Policies, Taylor Swift’s Girl Squads, & Miley Cyrus’ Feminism

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There’s never a dull moment when it comes to Lena Dunham. She’s either making everyone’s heads spin by unashamedly appearing naked in ‘Girls’, the hit TV show she created and stars in, partnering with Planned Parenthood for her ‘Not That Kind of Girl’ book tour to make a stand for healthy sex education and reproductive rights, starting an online feminist newsletter, or endorsing democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

We’re not even sure whether Lena has a moment of down time. Like, ever! But hey we’re glad she makes time to share her thoughts on topics she cares about most, including feminism, as she is not one to shy away from using her role model status to inspire other girls. In an new interview with Refinery29, Lena talks about the highly anticipated final season of ‘Girls’, turning 30, feeling ugly compared to all the other girls at her private school, and thinking about having a baby.

But among all about her career and body images woes which she has talked about extensively in the past, she also shared her thoughts on why she supports Hillary Clinton as her preferred presidential candidate, what she thinks about Taylor Swift and her “girl squads” which have become somewhat of a cultural phenomenon itself, and how feminist she thinks Miley Cyrus really is.

The discussion over Miley Cyrus and her feminism is not a new one, as there are many within the movement ready to label her as “un-feminist” simply for the choices she makes. Lena Dunham believes the whole point of advocating feminism is the privilege of having a choice in the first place, whether another feminist happens to agree with it or not.

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“That statement only goes so far. It doesn’t go so far as to excuse things that I don’t think work within the historical and political definition of what feminism is. When girls say, ‘Hey, Miley Cyrus’ hot pants are not feminist.’ Maybe they are for her, and maybe they’re not for you. Part of the deal is that she wants to wear hot pants, and you want to wear slacks,” she explained.

“The biggest things are when a girl says about another girl, ‘She’s not respecting herself sexually. She’s looking for love in all the wrong places.’ You don’t get to decide that. You don’t get to decide what a feminist looks and acts like. That said, I do reserve the right to not honor it if a woman throwing tomatoes at people outside an abortion clinic wants to call herself a feminist. I don’t have to indulge that,” she added, keeping in line with her firm pro-choice stance.

While Lena appears to be the epitome of confidence and success on the outside, leading the way for a generation of young women who never felt like they ticked all the boxes in the status quo list of what a woman is supposed to look like, she too had a tough time accepting the way she looked and it has been exacerbated somewhat with social media now that she is famous.

“I didn’t feel pretty in high school, or really, in college. When I started to become a public figure, part of me expected people would react to me the way boys did in high school and say rude things, but part of me also expected people to be better than that. So, there was a moment for me when I saw my first ‘her body is hideous’ comment. Part of me was like, ‘I told you so,’ and part of me was like, ‘I can’t believe this is what the adult real world is like’,” she said, while adding googling yourself as a celebrity isn’t always the biggest self-esteem builder.

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It’s probably one of the reasons why feminism and female friendships are important to her, and it’s something all of us as women can embrace more. So when she was asked her opinion on the idea of “girl squads”, she had a very empowering answer.

“Well, my good and beloved friend Taylor Swift is the person whose friendship spawned the squad. What I really love about it is that it’s showing that women are stronger together. It’s easy for someone to say, ‘Oh, this is glorifying an unobtainable female friendship.’ But I think what it’s really saying is, when we link arms we’re just better for it. I like that it’s a view of female friendship that doesn’t involve fighting or competition or jealousy,” she said.

We absolutely love that sentiment and wish more media publications would push that, instead of constantly asking female celebrities what they think of another female in way to bait the person into saying something bitchy. We’re tired of this trend and thankful for feminists like Lena who sees how the value of female friendships far outweigh hatred.

But as for gender alliances, Lena’s reason for supporting Hillary Clinton, among a number of female celebs, in the upcoming Presidential election is more about policy than it is the fact that she could possibly make history as America’s first female president.

“She’s a candidate I really believe in. She’s such an important cultural figure. I’m 29, and so [i was] 5 or 6 when she went into the office as first lady. I just loved her. I was fascinated by her. I loved the stories my mom would tell me about her unwillingness to fit into the first-lady box. She’s been a really important figure in the cultural conversation around feminism and politics for a long time. The fact that that person is now running for president is thrilling,” Lena explained.

But she wasn’t done there. Hillary’s exemplary record on women’s rights and social justice issues make her a standout candidate for Lena, as well as many other women.

“Women’s rights are the area where I’m most focused, and her track record of protecting women — as first lady, as a senator, as secretary of state — is impressive. I like that she is concerned about gun control. That’s an issue for me that is just non-negotiable and deeply connected to women’s rights and racial injustice,” she said.

However, Lena has not shied away from slamming the outrageously sexist attacks thrown at Hillary on a daily basis during this campaign, and (let’s be honest) her entire political career.

“The way that Hillary Clinton’s been talked about in the media is so gendered and rabidly sexist in every single portrayal. Whether it’s the attacks on her personal life or the adjectives that are used to describe her clothing, we have to do a full reexamination,” she said in an interview with Variety at the Sundance Film Festival recently.

She also pointed out how male candidates don’t have to endure the type of gendered criticism Hillary does, but there are plenty of things she would like to say about them, and so would we…

Whether you are a Hillary Clinton supporter or not, it is important to have political and cultural role models who are unashamed to advocate for reproductive rights especially at a time when they are fiercely under attack.

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Lena Dunham is a formidable role model in her own right, showing women that confidence isn’t about what you see on the outside, but how it is cultivated from within. She credits her own mom for helping instill the values that would eventually be the source of her adult self-esteem.

“I don’t feel confident all of the time. Something that was really great for me was having a mom who was so engaged with her work, such an outspoken feminist, who seemed to have a certain comfort in her own skin and her own body. High school was really hard for me…I had gained a ton of weight really quickly and not grown taller at all. I had acne. I went to a chic, private school where lots of girls looked beautiful and toned and had glossy hair and Prada shoes, and that wasn’t my reality. There was a real solid moment where I was like, ‘I’m repulsive’,” she candidly shared.

However, once she realized what was the most valuable aspect of her life, she didn’t feel the need to live up to unrealistic body pressures.

“I think feeling those feelings and coming out the other end, realizing I don’t have to be the prettiest person here to have value or to have say — that really stuck with me,” she concluded.

Every woman has a voice that can have a major impact in the life of another woman. We sure are glad Lena has been using hers, and we look forward to her future projects beyond ‘Girls’.

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