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Not That Kind Of Girl: A Review of Lena Dunham's Memoirs


With the recent confirmation that next year’s sixth season of Girls will be the final one, now seemed the perfect time to read the memoir book of Lena Dunham; a collection of essays that chronicle her life, her experiences, and her rather irregular outlook on the world.

They say that sometimes in life, there will be a book, a song, a piece of art, that will come along and reflect the reader so well that the pages may as well be mirrored glass. Not That Kind of Girl is, for me, exactly that book.

Dunham's liberal artist's upbringing makes for interesting reading: from how her mother pioneered the first "selfie", to interrupting her own narrative to discuss her sometimes non-platonic dream feelings for her father. She saw a plethora of therapists before she was even a teenager. She worked for a high-end, boutique baby clothing store whilst working on her art projects in the most vibrant city on Earth – New York. While this is not common ground for – hopefully – most of us readers, there is still something endearing and accessible about Dunham's writing and life. She manages to capture that elusive "human condition", as far as it can be captured.

This is a book for anyone who has felt a little bit different. Dunham does not shy away from delving into her battles with her weight, her body image, her sexual misadventures. Even deeper than this, she explores her own psychology: her issues with anxiety and the ways it impacts her on a daily basis.

The most important lesson we can take from this book, therefore, is that despite all of the issues suffered by this young woman, she still managed to be successful, and to get what she wanted out of life. Sex is great. Food is not the enemy. Neither are our bodies. Our parents are weird. Relationships aren't what they say on television (unless you're watching Girls). We need to take risks if we want to live and love, and life is nothing but a patchwork of experiences, good and bad.

This brutal honesty and unflinching microscopic view of one's life is obviously cathartic in Dunham's case, but Not That Kind of Girl has as an important message too: that one needs to be brutally honest. There is a chapter named 'Barry', in which Dunham writes of her foggy, unclear recollection of a certain event that led to her waking up, a searing pain down there, and a man she did not consent to. Her tale highlights an issue that needs to be highlighted, that is so painfully true yet still underrepresented. Perhaps with more exposure, with more brutally honest writing, and directing, and acting, the notion that no response at all means does in fact mean "no" will hopefully get through to everyone one day.

If you've ever felt the weight of the world on your shoulders when everyone is telling you it shouldn't be, try reading this. It's refreshing to know that you aren't the only one.

 Written by Jamie Evans

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