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lena dunham

A roundup of some of Lena Dunham's most disastrous moments from over the years

Few people have had to issue as many apologies as Lena Dunham.

1. That awkward comment she made about abortions.

Last year Lena released a podcast in which she said that she has never had the opportunity to get an abortion, but she wishes she had.

She began by talking about how she was asked to contribute to a project taking place in a Planned Parenthood branch in Texas.

I sort of jumped. ‘I haven’t had an abortion’, I told her. I wanted to make it really clear to her that as much as I was going out and fighting for other women’s options, I myself had never had an abortion.
And I realised that even I was carrying within myself stigma around this issue. Even I, the woman who cares as much as anybody about a woman’s right to choose, felt it was important that people know I was unblemished in this department.
Now I can say that I still haven’t had an abortion, but I wish I had.

No regular person ‘wishes’ for an abortion. Nobody in an abortion clinic thinks “Oh, I’m delighted to be here.” It’s a pretty grim situation to end up in and Dunham’s comments clearly come from a place of inconceivable privilege.

2. The very strange assumption she made about why Odell Beckham Jr. wouldn’t talk to her.

While chatting with Amy Schumer for her newsletter Lenny Letter, Lena Dunham shared her experience of sitting with NFL player Odell Beckham Jr. at the Met Gala. Claiming that Odell refused to speak to her through the evening, Lena said:

It was like he looked at me and determined I was not the shape of a woman by his standards. He was like ‘That’s a marshmallow. That’s a dog.’ It wasn’t mean, he just seemed confused.

Her retelling of the events got even worse:

The vine was very much like, ‘Do I want to f**k it? Is it wearing a… yep, it’s wearing a tuxedo. I’m going to go back to my cellphone.’ It was like we were forced to be together and he literally was scrolling Instagram rather than have to look at a woman in a bowtie.

The response on social media was to immediately question the narcissistic assumption that Odell checking his phone had anything to do with what Lena was wearing. Others were upset that Dunham was sexualising Beckham, who was sitting there minding his own business.

OBJ hadn’t a clue what was going on or what inspired her comments. She later apologised for “ascribing misogynistic thoughts to someone [she doesn't] know at all.”

3. When she was slammed for making antisemitic comments.

In 2015, the Anti-Defamation League were not happy with a satirical article published by Lena Dunham called “Dog or Jewish Boyfriend“. As The Guardian stated, the majority of the comparison were innocuous, but some of them were pretty tasteless.

The more offensive comments were relating to money. Abraham H Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League stated “Some will certainly find Lena Dunham’s stereotypes about cheap Jews offensive. Others will take issue with the very idea of comparing a dog and a Jewish boyfriend.”

He went on to say “The piece is particularly troubling because it evokes memories of the No Jews or Dogs Allowed signs from our own early history in this country.” The response on Twitter was pretty similar, with people asking how a comparison between Jewish people and dogs managed to get past the editor of the New Yorker.

4. When she compared reading negative comments about herself online to domestic violence.

Dunham shared the poorly thought out analogy in an interview in 2015 where she told Re/code:

I used to read Gawker and Jezebel in college and be like ‘I can’t wait to get to New York where my people will be to welcome me.’ and it’s like, it’s literally, if I read it, it’s going back to a husband who beat me in the face – it just doesn’t make any sense.”

She went on to apologise, saying that when she “heard her own quote, I was like ‘Jesus, Lena, no’. I wasn’t making a joke about domestic violence – I was over-emphatic in my attempt to capture how damaging the internet can be.” A little over-emphatic, yes.

5. When compared Judd Apatow’s distaste for Bill Cosby to being ‘obsessed with the Holocaust’.

CA: 2017 Variety's Power Of Women: Los Angeles - Arrivals SIPA USA / PA Images SIPA USA / PA Images / PA Images

2015 was a really bad year for Lena Dunham. She came out with bizarre statement after bizarre statement and issued apology after apology. One of these weird comments was regarding director Judd Apatow, who spoke out against Bill Cosby as soon as allegations began to surface about him.

Apatow “couldn’t stand to see” Cosby going about his business as usual after a very large number of women alleged that the actor had assaulted them or attempted to do so. Dunham of course agreed with Apatow, but went on to say that people were saying that Judd was “obsessed” with these allegations. Dunham said that this was “sort of like saying someone’s obsessed with the Holocaust.”

What she meant was, this person is very concerned about a bad thing that happened, but she expressed it in an extremely unfortunate way.

6. When she upset people by tweeting a photo of herself wearing a scarf in the style of a hijab.

The Daily Front Row's Fashion Media Awards - New York MM / ABACA MM / ABACA / ABACA

It was the caption that caused the most offense. She wrote “I had a real goth/fundamentalist attitude when I woke up from my nap.” The association she made between hijabs and fundamentalists is obviously extremely problematic. What made the post even more cringe-worthy was the fact that she posted it shortly after a shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin. She addressed that fact in her apology:

A rare genuine one – been in production and completely not reading the news. Didn’t realise what a bad time it was to make a joke like that. Not a good excuse guys, but an excuse nonetheless.

Regardless of whether there was a shooting or not, the vast majority of grown adults know better than to post something like that online. Her apology continued:

I’m glad you keep me informed and I’m deleting those tweets. Will spend tonight reading my pile of old NY Times, contemplating the boundaries of humour. I try and learn something new every day. xx Lena

7. When she found herself in hot water over another racist tweet.

NY: My Art screening at Tribeca Film Festival 2017 SIPA USA / PA Images SIPA USA / PA Images / PA Images

Last year one of Lena’s old tweets resurfaced. She had written ‘An uncool thought to have: “is that guy walking in the dark behind me a rapist? Never mind, he’s Asian.”

Followers wrote that Dunham would have to be pretty lost in white privilege to consider that joke to be funny. Another fan wrote “You carry yourself as a shining beacon of feminist smarts, many follow you, then you tweet this.”

Another Twitter user made a joke about the extremely homogenous cast of Lena’s TV show Girls. “Is that guy walking in the dark behind me in Girls? Never mind, he’s Asian.”

8. When she outed her sister to her parents.

My Art screening at Tribeca Film Festival SIPA USA / PA Images SIPA USA / PA Images / PA Images

Always a fan of oversharing, Lena told the New York Times about her sisters coming out story. Lena’s sister Grace had been “nursing a sprained ankle she sustained a few nights earlier, after, by her account, ‘tripping into a pothole while running out of a queer-poetry reading’.”

Although Dunham was concerned with her sister’s injury, she was also “enchanted by the phrase” used to explain how it came to be and had “been repeating it to people everywhere she went” for several days afterwards. Dunham’s sister Grace explained:

Without getting into specifics, most of our fights have revolved around my feeling like Lena took her approach to her own personal life and made my personal life her property.

Lena’s response was this:

I consider Grace to be an extension of me, and therefore I couldn’t handle the fact that she’s a very private person with her own value system and her own aesthetic and that we do different things.

That’s Lena’s excuse for earlier outing her sister to her parents before she was comfortable to talk about her sexuality with them.

Though Grace wasn’t quite ready to tell their parents, Dunham was unable to contain herself and came out to them for her.

Coming out ‘for her’ sounds a little bit like she’s doing Grace some kind of favour, rather than grossly violating her privacy.

9. When she changed her mind about owning a dog.

Several years ago, Lena Dunham rescued a dog named Lamby from a shelter. She had written about the dog for the New Yorker, posed with it in Vogue and Instagrammed Lamby’s antics regularly.

In June of this year, Lena took to Instagram to announce that Lamby was too poorly behaved for her to keep, as the dog had faced “terrible abuse as a pup”, despite the fact that the shelter where Dunham got Lamby from insisted that there was no way that Lena could know what her dog had been through before he began his life with her.

Robert Vasquez from the Brooklyn Animal Rescue Coalition made a dig both her sincerity and the popularity of Lena’s TV show Girls. “It’s just hard to believe the dog was nasty when she took Lamby to every green room with her when Girls was still a thing four years ago.”

10. When she lashed out at a magazine for airbrushing photographs of her, despite the fact that the photos were untouched.

Last year Lena criticised a Spanish magazine that she posed for, claiming that they used “mad Photoshop” on the cover image of her. In a now deleted Instagram post, Dunham wrote:

Hello Spanish magazine Tentaciones! I am genuinely honored to be on your cover and so happy you used a pic by @ruvenafanador – he always makes me feel gorgeous. But this is not what my body has ever looked like or will ever look like – made photoshop has been done t o this iteration. So if you’re into what I do, why not be honest with your readers? Much love, Lena.

Tentaciones responded:

We do not use Photoshop nor other digital tools to change the physical appearance of our cover stars, nor in the features to be found inside. On this occasion, the only thing we did was crop the image to adapt it to the format of our front page.

She later apologised, saying that the misunderstanding was related to her “long and complicated history with retouching.” Adding “It’s a weird feeling to see a photo and not know if it’s your own body anymore.”

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