SXSW: Lena Dunham Opens Up About Why She Has Been ‘Grateful’ for Audience Criticism

Lena Dunham addressed and reflected on audience criticism during a conversation at SXSW on Saturday.

Speaking to a packed room multi-hyphenate Dunham and the new editor-in-chief of Glamour Magazine, Samantha Barry, conversed about the issue of authenticity in the media. Early on, Dunham quipped that her messy ponytail would help let the audience know that their talk would be about authenticity. But things turned more serious when discussing responses to herself and her work that Dunham has seen on social media.

“I found there was so much vitriol from other women who had body types similar to mine. There was this energy of ‘How dare you think it’s appropriate to take your clothing off on television and expose all of our secrets?’” Dunham said of some response to her HBO series “Girls,” which concluded its six-season run on the premium cabler last year. “I really felt that vitriol and anger coming from them.”

Dunham recalled a time around “Girls’s” fourth season, when she was asked if she was done with showing nudity. “I didn’t come to do it twice to make a point,” she said. “This is what the world looks like and, on some fronts, we really succeeded and others we didn’t.”

Dunham shared that often the way she deals with such criticism is to have “two days full of shame” during which she thinks things like “I should have never been let out of my house in the first place.” However, she also acknowledged that at times her response is to be a bit more angry, with thoughts of, “Nobody even deserves me. They don’t deserve my truth.”

But Dunham also said the criticism she — and her former show — endured was, at times, something she appreciated and would use it to help better herself and her creative endeavors.

“There were huge conversations about diversity around the show that were some of the most educational and important conversations of my life,” Dunham said. “Those are the moments that criticism teaches you about yourself, and your blind spots, and the ways you’ve been problematized by the culture you’ve been raised in. So, there was a lot of criticism I felt grateful for.”

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