‘Not That Kind of Girl’ is a collection of personal essays by creator and star of HBO’s Girls, Lena Dunham. This memoir covers everything from bad sex to mental health, which will make you laugh out loud and want to die from second-hand embarrassment in equal measures.
I love Lena Dunham. She’s successful, ambitious, feminist and she doesn’t take any shit from those who criticise her work. She’s everything a 20-something might hope to be.
But I also hate her.
Lena’s on-screen persona, Hannah Horvath is selfish, privileged, spoilt, self-involved, and generally, a hot mess, and until I read ‘Not That Kind of Girl‘, I had separated Lena from Hannah entirely. However, the more I read, the harder that became. Because Lena seems to share all of these attributes, if not with a shred more self-awareness.
However, much like Girls, this book is entirely real. And painstakingly relatable.
Lena’s stories of how she would platonically share a bed with men all through her early 20s to plug the void of feeling alone, and descriptions of obsessively chronicling her food intakes in a desperate bid to lose weight are almost too close to home.
When ‘Not That Kind of Girl’ first came out, accusations were made against Lena that she had referred to sexually abusing her sister when she was a child. To that I can only sigh and think people should read the chapter on her sister Grace again. Lena clearly adores her sister, and spent her childhood, as the older sibling, wishing Grace was more dependent on her. Does she do some weird things? Absolutely. But it can hardly be classed as sexual abuse. She was a weird kid and a curious one, and when you read that chapter within the context of the entire memoir, it’s just one thing on a long list of evidence that Lena Dunham is, and always has been, obsessed with the human form.
I devoured this book. Where often I’ll spend months dipping in and out of autobiographies and personal essay collections, I read this in three days. I’d recommend it to any of my female friends who might ever have longed to be cooler, thinner, more talented, less bizarre. I’d even recommend it to some of my male ones who are curious about the female condition.
But expect to roll your eyes and think to yourself ‘what a brat’ more than once.