Lately, I’ve been completely hooked on HBO’s brilliant show Girls. Not only is it a very realistic portrayal of females in their twenties (perhaps a little more exciting than the average girl’s life), but it is a refreshing take on the behaviour and expectations of women.
Lena Dunham’s writing is funny, and yet still poignant. The characters are extremely relatable, the plotlines are interesting and not every episode has a candy-flossed ending or overly dramatic cliffhanger. The girls fight with each other. They laugh with each other. They also bathe with each other at times, one aspect which I find a little odd. But mostly, they have a dynamic which feels true.
But the main part that I find so wonderful to see on television (or in my case, my laptop, since it doesn’t air here) is that they look like real women. And they aren’t ashamed of it.
They aren’t gorgeous all the time and they certainly don’t always wear outfits that make me go ‘wow’. They do not look like the stereotypical Hollywood actresses whose characters live off a diet which the actresses playing them would never go near. They look like the people who lead the lifestyles of their characters.
Society’s expectations of women are unachievable, mostly because the capitalist companies that fund the productions need to have an ideal to sell to women. And ideals which sell products should never be attainable, because then we would have no more need for the product.
So when I switch over to watch an episode of Girls I get comedy, yes, but also a reminder that most people don’t actually have the body of Miranda Kerr. And that that’s ok. Every time Lena Dunham strips down in some sex scene or other, it reminds me that not being super thin and toned really doesn’t mean all that much. Beauty and sexuality really are about so much more than weight or image, and self-confidence is the key to that distinction. If next time Lena’s character Hannah falls into bed with someone and she resumes the traditional female role of passivity and fear (and disempowerment), then she would forgo some of the awesome beauty that pours out of her every episode.
Gone are the days when women sat by like pretty dolls, but still we are expected to look like them. Societal expectations of the female body have yet to catch up to the more active role women play in the social atmosphere. For some reason, in order for the female body to appear powerful, it must be masculinised, with power suits, muscle tone and angled faces. This is kind of backwards, since what really should happen is the female body being celebrated as it actually looks like, and the power from accepting it as such. Celebrate the gender differences, instead of trying to blur the line between genders.