How many more times does Lena Dunham have to tell us to stop talking about her weight before we’ll listen?
If you follow her on social media, you know she doesn’t think losing a few pounds is worthy of a compliment or indicative of any particular achievement. “Weight loss isn’t a triumph and it also isn’t some sign I’ve finally given in to the voices of trolls,” she wrote a couple months ago, praising a Refinery 29 for its impassioned plea to put the brakes on all the body talk.
Apparently Us Weekly missed the memo. A recent cover of the celebrity news magazine placed a paparazzi shot of Dunham beside the headline “20 Slimdown Diet Tips Stars Are Using.”
Dunham wasn’t impressed, and the famously outspoken Girls star let everyone know it in an Instagram post. We reached out to Toronto-based dietitian Christy Brissette of 80 Twenty Nutrition for her take on Dunham’s clapback and why it should be commended.
20 slimdown diet tips! 1. anxiety disorder * 2. resultant constant nausea 3. an election that reveals the true depths of American misogyny 4. constant sweaty dreams of dystopian future 5. abdominal adhesions pinning ovary below uterus * 6. baseless but still harrowing threats to physical safety online and through smail mail 7. watching institutions you love from Planned Parenthood to PBS be threatened by cartoon mustache-twirling villains 8. finally realizing superheroes aren’t real (specifically the X-Factor, really thought they’d handle this) 9. marching your ass off 10. a quiet rage that replaces need for food with need for revenge 11. sleeping 19 hours a day 12. realizing that even the liberal media wants dem clicks no matter whut 13. worrying ceaselessly about the health and safety of women you know and women you don’t 14. realizing who ya real friends are 15. having to switch from Uber to Lyft (lots of calories burned trying to understand a new app, then even more trying to understand if the conflict was resolved) 16. bladder spasms, urinary frequency and urgency * 17. having your phone number leaked and violent images texted to your phone by randos under names like VERYFATCHUCKYBOY@creepz.com 18. keeping your back arched against the wind 19. um, who the fuck cares? 20. I have no tips I give no tips I don’t want to be on this cover cuz it’s diametrically opposed to everything I’ve fought my whole career for and it’s not a compliment to me because it’s not an achievement thanx * Star indicates a pre-existing condition
Sharing 20 alternative tips, Dunham cited more realistic contributors to her weight loss. Among them, coping with fear of a dystopian future, channeling quiet rage into marching to keep that future at bay, dealing with violent threats from strangers after her phone number was leaked—oh, and managing symptoms related to several pre-exisiting conditions, including an anxiety disorder and endometriosis.
“I absolutely love her post, and I love the way that she reacted to this headline,” says Brissette. “Rather than just ignoring it, I love that she took this tongue-and-cheek approach and made it humorous. But at the same time, a lot of important subtext underscores what she wrote.”
For Brissette, Dunham’s message that losing weight isn’t always a sign of healthier habits stands out.
“You can’t look at someone and be able to say, ‘Oh, she eats a healthier diet,’ based on her size alone,” says Brissette. “We need to separate our focus from aligning weight loss with being healthy, because that’s not always case.”
Brissette also notes that it’s important Dunham spoke so candidly about her recent health struggles.
“It doesn’t seem like she’d wish any resultant weight loss from her conditions upon anyone,” says Brissette. “Looking at her tips, obviously she’s not pitching ‘getting anxiety disorder’ as a great approach for weight loss. The way that she’s positioned any weight loss in relation to these difficult conditions is important. She’s taking a stand against a headline like this, and using social media in an empowering way—it’s a big deal.”
As for her favourite tip, Brissette loves #19. “It’s perfect. Why is another person’s weight loss considered something that’s newsworthy?”