Can Posting Nudes Actually Be Good For Body Positivity?

If you, like 3.3 million other people in the world, are someone who follows Lena Dunham on Instagram, chances are good that you saw one of her nudes last night. (And, if you missed it, don’t worry! Every women’s publication on the internet is covering it today.)

Anyway, here it is:

 

lena-dunham-nude-instagram

Source: Instagram/@LenaDunham

 

Of course, if you’ve ever watched Girls, this photo will hardly be anything new to you, given that Lena has been nude on that show many, many times before. But the nude itself isn’t really the point–rather, it’s the message that goes along with it.

Here’s part of the caption if you can’t read it:

I spent so many years loving my body but thinking it wasn’t lovable by others- its sole purpose was to be fodder for jokes. I performed the insult so no one else could. I don’t regret any of it- that’s my art and that was my truth- but now, at age 31, having been through hell and back with my health and other people’s perceptions of my physicality, I feel deeply comfortable with the idea that this pear-shaped pot of honey is equally good for making people laugh and laying out like a Suicide Girl circa 2004. Love it all.

Women are often taught that their body is either to be an object of desire or a butt of a joke, with no room for any nuance or anything in between. Either you are something to be consumed–meaning that you have no agency over your body–or you take ownership of your body by making light of it and accepting that, as a result, it will be seen as less desirable. Lena’s photo and the caption makes the point that learning that your body doesn’t have to be lovable to other people, but it can be can help one regain agency.

So, say what you will about Lena Dunham and her, ahem, problematic public persona (and I have and I will continue to do so!) but this is pretty fantastic use of her platform. She also wrote an op-ed in the New York Times last week on endometriosis (a condition she suffers from) and how insurance cutbacks could hurt women who rely on birth control to control its symptoms, so it seems that she might be becoming a little more careful on her actions and the impact they can have.

Now, there are a number of problems that someone who isn’t in Lena Dunham’s exact societal position might face upon posting nude photos to any public forum, like trouble with getting admitted into college, accepted for a job, and some potential legal issues (and maybe the wrath of your parents) if you are underage. So I’m not going to tell you to post your own nudes in order to prove how body positive you are. (Think of it this way: If you get invited to the Met Gala every year, you can post nude-adjacent photos on your public Instagram account to prove a point. If not, you might want to use a bit more caution.)

But, as far as body acceptance messages go, this is a pretty great one. Humor and sexuality (and many, many other things, of course) can coexist within the female body, even if you have always been taught to think that you can only pick one. The important thing (and this is corny, but it is also a fact) is to accept it for what it is. And, if this photo helps anyone do just that, well, we’re happy with it.

 

What do you think of Lena Dunham’s photo? Do you think it promotes body positivity or not? Let us know in the comments!

You can reach the author, Sara Hendricks, on Twitter and Instagram.

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