Lena Dunham Humorously Bares Her Dark Past in New Memoir

By John Lavitt 10/31/14

The Girls star revealed her struggles with OCD, sexual abuse, and eating disorders.

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As the star and creator of the hit HBO series, Girls, Lena Dunham has gone against the grain of Hollywood with numerous nude scenes. Despite not having the prototypical Hollywood figure, the young woman with an everyday body has bared all to show that normal can be sexy.

Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s ‘Learned’, her new memoir published by Random House, reveals her motivations by providing a candid and humorous account of her battles with eating disorders, a dark history of sexual abuse as a child, and ongoing difficulties with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Often called the voice of her generation, Dunham was named one of TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world. After completing the third season of Girls, she landed a $3.5 million book deal for the memoir. With a candor that is often shocking and never demure, the revelations in the book verge on being uncomfortable for the reader.

After winning a Golden Globe in 2013 for writing, directing, and acting,  Dunham explained that showing off her so-called flawed body in the repeated nude scenes helped her become more accepting of her own imperfections.

A self-professed couch potato with a deep dislike of Los Angeles gym culture, Dunham has been harshly criticized for not being stick-thin like the anorexic appearing models in fashion magazines and many of her Hollywood contemporaries. In the memoir, Dunham, 28, explained how she ended the war and made peace with her physical appearance.

“I think I radicalized my relationship to my own body in order to accept it. To make my body a prop in my work gave it a value I didn’t feel it had before…People called me fat and hideous, and I lived. And now I keep living,” she wrote.

Despite her huge pop culture success, Dunham has remained accessible to young women because of her acceptance of her normative looks and an amusing take on what she calls her dysfunctional sex life. Believing secrecy is destructive, she felt she had to reveal her battle with eating disorders in public, even though, as she wrote,  “My food intake was a hard thing to share publicly.”

By revealing her own ongoing challenges and past difficulties in Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s ‘Learned’, Dunham could provide relief and hope to many young American women. Such young women struggle with the demands of a fashion culture presenting archetypes to strive for that are virtually impossible to actually reach.

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Growing up in Manhattan as a stutterer, John Lavitt discovered that writing was the best way to express himself when the words would not come. After graduating with honors from Brown University, he lived on the Greek island of Patmos, studying with his mentor, the late American poet Robert Lax. As a writer, John’s published work includes three articles in Chicken Soup For The Soul volumes and poems in multiple poetry journals and compilations. Active in recovery, John has been the Treatment Professional News Editor for The Fix. Since 2015, he has published over 500 articles on the addiction and recovery news website. Today, he lives in Los Angeles, trying his best to be happy and creative. Find John on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.