These Are The Awesome Lenny Contributors Who Will Be Celebrating Lena Dunham’s Birthday Today
It's basically the ultimate squad.
Today is Lena Dunham’s birthday, hurray! The brains behind the endlessly brilliant Girls, an awesome director, talented writer and inspiring advocate for gender equality, there’s a lot to celebrate.
Our favourite thing that Lena has done though is Lenny, her online newsletter that’s gone from strength to strength this year. Not only does it have an amazing bunch of regular writers (including Lena’s actual sister, Grace), but big names have been queuing up to speak up on the things they think matter on a platform that encourages totally honesty and openness on important issues. The results are always something special. So in honour of Lena’s b-day, we thought we’d take a look at some of her friends-turned-writers who’ll most probably be attending the most empowering birthday party in history tonight.
First up, MTV Shuga alumni and Oscar winner, Lupita Nyong’o. Her chosen topic was why she chose to appear in a small play with an all-female cast, director and playwright of African descent rather than the big Hollywood roles she “should” be doing.
The answer? “I’m an actress; why wouldn't I want to be in an incredible, gorgeous, meaty piece about the complicated choices of women during wartime?”. But this question also spoke of wider cultural issues about definitions of success and the things women, and particularly women of colour, “should” be doing in their careers. Lupita points out that although she’s been able make it to those Hollywood roles, she sees success as more than just fame and money. It’s also about working on things she loves and feels strongly about. She also talks about diversity in the entertainment industry as more than just what you see on screen but the people behind the stories, the people working on the production and the audience it’s designed for. So yeah, that’s why.
Obviously everything J-Law touches is golden but her essay, “Why Do I Make Less Than My Male Co-Stars?” sparked a conversation in Hollywood and beyond that needs answering. Following the leak from Sony that showed Jen was making considerably less than her male co-stars; she decided that she was “over trying to find the ‘adorable’ way to state [her] opinion and still be likable” and decided, “All I hear and see all day are men speaking their opinions, and I give mine in the same exact manner”. The opinion in question, in short: why on earth is this still happening!?
From calling out online trolls to shutting down sexist hecklers, CHVRCHES’ Lauren Mayberry doesn’t take any s**t. For Lenny she opened up about how she once found herself on the receiving end of an abusive relationship in a rare personal story. In the piece, entitled ‘My Life, My Voice, My Body, My Rules’, Mayberry spoke up about how she found herself justifying the relationship and how she finally found the strength to get out. As always Lauren’s advice was direct, to the point and totally invaluable to anyone who might find themselves in a similar position.
As far as guest contributors go, they don’t get much bigger than the First Lady herself. Michelle Obama talked about “Why Global Girls' Education Is So Personal for Me”. She urged people not to get bogged down in policy and statistics but to address the root of the issue, “the belief that girls should be valued for their bodies, not their minds; the belief that girls simply aren't worthy of an education, and their best chance in life is to be married off when they're barely even teenagers and start having children of their own.”
She also urged readers to get involved with her #62MillionGirls initiative based around the numbers of girls who don’t have access to education and the small ways people can make an important difference in their lives.
Emily Ratajkowski is sexy. But for her, sexy is a word that often means things that it shouldn’t. In her ‘Baby Woman’ essay Emily defines sexy as “a kind of beauty, a kind of self-expression, one that is to be celebrated, one that is wonderfully female.” She asks, “Why does the implication have to be that sex is a thing men get to take from women and women give up? Most adolescent women are introduced to "sexy" women through porn or Photoshopped images of celebrities. Is that the only example of a sexual woman we will provide to the young women of our culture? Where can girls look to see women who find empowerment in deciding when and how to be or feel sexual?”
Emily explains that all her life she has embraced her sexuality and been met with criticism, not from within the modelling industry but from those outside who made her feel ashamed for being a part of something that celebrates female sexuality.
Having been invited to Coachella time and time again by her celeb pals, despite no interest in porta-potties and culturally appropriated feather headdresses, Lena decided enough was enough and put together possibly the greatest “Pussycat Dolls–esque supergroup” of all time. The band, B.I.T.C.H. (Benevolent Incarnation of The C*** in Harmony) consists of Debbie Wasserman Schultz; “proud Florida Congresswoman”, Jill Biden; the vice First Lady, Cindy McCain; wife of John and “a ferocious opponent of human trafficking”, Kamala Harris; “attorney general of California with a vendetta against revenge porn”, a hologram of Maria Tallchief; America's first prima ballerina and Andrea Dworkin’s spirit; historical feminist writer. This might make very little sense but read the full article, it’s hilarious and brilliant. SQUAD GOALS.
Last but not least, obviously there’s Lena herself. Besides being the woman who brought this awesome crew of right-on-the-money writers together, she writes some pretty bad-ass stuff herself. From speaking openly about her experiences with the re-touching of her body and the fact that, “I don't recognize my own f**king body anymore” to tackling important topics like the on-going Kesha case and planned parenthood in the US perfectly. Lena and her newsletter (and soon to be publishing imprint) are kicking ass and taking names on a daily basis and for that reason alone, we’re wishing her one hell of a happy birthday with the #squad!