In a world of people asking to be heard, whose various voices could be lifted, Lena Dunham still opts to support disenfranchised, vaguely chubby, mostly white women attempting to socially divorce themselves from their privilege but still milking every ounce out of their Ivy League connections and their rich parents’ wallets.
The recent collaboration between Dunham, best friend Jemima Kirke, and New Zealand-based lingerie company Lonely Label, disappointingly, does not feel much different.
Lonely makes lingerie that is beautiful and fashion-forward, simultaneously delicate and edgy. The aesthetic is not the issue, however; Lonely’s sizes stop at a 36DD bra and the bottoms go no larger than a 35-inch waist — somewhere around the average size 16 or 18. The brand places a great deal of importance on authenticity and deflecting the male gaze, yet disappointingly does not push itself to create inclusive pieces beyond the acceptable “small fat” or “curvy” sizing. Furthermore, there is a dearth of dark-skinned representation within the campaign.
It feels as though Lonely is co-opting the plus-size and body-positivity movements without committing to real representation. It doesn’t push beyond the forms of fat currently embraced (and standards of beauty currently enforced) — or beyond the most Eurocentrically acceptable level of melanin. The campaign winds up holding itself to the same standards of the gaze it claims to subvert.
“Inspired by the women who wear it, each Lonely collection is part of an ongoing conversation that maintains a consistent design ethos committed to outstanding comfort, unique signature silhouettes and custom prints and fabrications.
Fostering a sense of positive body image and freedom of expression, Lonely eschews conventional marketing, bringing its collections to life via the Lonely Girls Project, a journal featuring women around the world from all walks of life captured wearing Lonely in their way.”
Instead of the media pushing more images of Lena Dunham and Jemima Kirke, let’s shift our focus to celebrate the other beautiful, untouched women featured within the campaign. Dunham slumped over in her underwear may not be a revelation, but some of these images feel like the beginning of one.
The Lonely Girls project seems to fall just short of its mission. While the campaign is not perfect, it is aimed in the right direction. Still, it falls drastically short in terms of dark-skinned representation or showing a truly progressive, inclusive attitude toward bigger bodies.
Perhaps the folks at Lonely will hear the call to be more inclusive. But, Lonely, one more thing: while you’re at it, lose Dunham.