Sketchy Things About Lena Dunham That Everyone Ignores

Lena Dunham is one of those stars that the media keep telling us we should like. She's just like us! She's real! She's down to earth! But is she? The Girls star was born rich and connected, and when you do some digging, she's pretty problematic.

That time she lashed out at Odell Beckham Jr. for no reason...

In her most recent Lenny Letter (which she's since edited), Dunham and pal Amy Schumer slammed the Met Gala in a Q&A, despite Dunham being a regular at the annual event.

"You and I were literally sitting across from each other at the Met Ball, and it was like a crazy countdown to when we could escape," Dunham, 30, said, adding, "I attempted to grind my a** on Michael B. Jordan for an additional twenty minutes and then left right after you." Okay, fine.

What wasn't fine? Dunham throwing an otherwise scandal-free New York Giant under the bus for her own personal gain. "I was sitting next to Odell Beckham Jr., and it was so amazing because it was like he looked at me and he determined I was not the shape of a woman by his standards," she griped. "He was like, 'That's a marshmallow. That's a child. That's a dog.' It wasn't mean—he just seemed confused," she said. "The vibe was very much like, 'Do I want to f**k it? Is it wearing a...yep, it's wearing a tuxedo. I'm going to go back to my cell phone.' It was like we were forced to be together, and he literally was scrolling Instagram rather than have to look at a woman in a bow tie," she added. "I was like, 'This should be called the Metropolitan Museum of Getting Rejected by Athletes.'"

...then was outraged over the resulting outrage

When Twitter ganged up on Lena Dunham for the racial implications of her story, as well as a general sense of entitlement and of oversexualizing an African American male, she initially responded with a series of defensive tweets.

"@OBJ_3 is talented, stylish, seems super awesome and wasn't into chatting with me at a fancy party," she wrote. "My story about him was clearly (to me) about my own insecurities as an average-bodied woman at a table of supermodels & athletes. It's not an assumption about who he is or an expectation of sexual attention. It's my sense of humor, which has kept me alive for 30 years. Glad the outrage machine roars on though, right @amyschumer?"

Schumer didn't respond, but the rest of the internet did, prompting her to issue a long-winded apology to Beckham Jr. on Instagram. It said, in part, "Despite my moments of bravado, I struggle at industry events (and in life) with the sense that I don't rep a certain standard of beauty and so when I show up to the Met Ball surrounded by models and swan-like actresses it's hard not to feel like a sack of flaming garbage. This felt especially intense with a handsome athlete as my dinner companion and a bunch of women I was sure he'd rather be seated with. But I went ahead and projected these insecurities and made totally narcissistic assumptions about what he was thinking, then presented those assumptions as facts. I feel terrible about it. Because after listening to lots of valid criticism, I see how unfair it is to ascribe misogynistic thoughts to someone I don't know AT ALL. Like, we have never met...But most importantly, I would never intentionally contribute to a long and often violent history of the over-sexualization of black male bodies—as well as false accusations by white women towards black men. I'm so sorry..."

For his part, Beckham Jr. couldn't care less about Dunham or whether or not she was wearing a tux. After Dunham's apology, he told reporters, "I don't really know much about the situation...There's never any bad blood between me and anybody...I'm sure it'll get handled or settled, but...right now my focus is way bigger."

She outed her sister against her wishes

In a 2014 profile in the The New York Times Magazine, Dunham's sister, Grace, revealed that Dunham outed her to their parents. Dunham touches on the incident in her book, Not That Kind of Girl, but told the magazine, "What I didn't say in the book is how it messed up our relationship for like two years."

Grace told the Times that Dunham spilled the beans about her sexuality after just two days, to which Dunham retorted, "It was not two days. It was a month...You came out to me, like, a week into shooting Tiny Furniture (2010) and I didn't tell Mom and Dad for like a week after we wrapped."

Grace replied, "Without getting into specifics, most of our fights have revolved around my feeling like Lena took her approach to her own personal life and made my personal life her property."

Dunham once more made it about her: "Basically, it's like I can't keep any of my own secrets, and I consider Grace to be an extension of me, and therefore I couldn't handle the fact that she's a very private person with her own value system and her own aesthetic and that we do different things."

She may have sexually abused her sister

Outing Grace wasn't the only awful thing Dunham may have done to her sister. In her own book, she describes, in graphic detail, what could be considered a form of sexual abuse against Grace when they were both kids. We won't go into the nitty gritty details here, but rest assured it was an unsettling read.

For her part, Grace tweeted, "As a queer person: I'm committed to people narrating their own experiences, determining for themselves what has and has not been harmful / heteronormativity deems certain behaviours harmful, and others 'normal'; the state and media are always invested in maintaining that / 2day, like every other day, is a good day to think about how we police the sexualities of young women, queer, and trans people" (via E! News).

She threatened to sue a blog for discussing her book

When the blog Truth Revolt dared to publish an excerpt from Dunham's book in 2014, pointing out that it was horrifying, she threatened to sue them. When the blog refused to issue a retraction, she went on yet another apology tour, writing in Time, "If the situations described in my book have been painful or triggering for people to read, I am sorry, as that was never my intention. I am also aware that the comic use of the term 'sexual predator' was insensitive, and I'm sorry for that as well."

She damaged someone's reputation

In Not That Kind of Girl, Dunham went into harrowing detail about a sexual assault she experienced while a student at Oberlin College. The problem is, she named the alleged rapist "Barry" in her book, describing him as a campus Republican with a mustache who worked at the campus library and hosted several radio shows (which she specified by name). Sure, Dunham could have chosen any name at random, but she chose "Barry," which was in fact the name of a prominent Oberlin College Republican student during her time at school. (The National Review points out that the moniker doesn't even make the list of 100 most common men's names.)

When Barry threatened to sue Dunham, she remained mum for a while until her publisher announced that in future printings of the book, it would be made clear that "Barry" is a pseudonym.

"The last nine weeks, spent both wrongfully accused and ignored, were frightening for me and my family. It was also baffling," Barry told The Hollywood Reporter. "As days turned to weeks, and weeks into months, Random House and Ms. Dunham's silence became unfathomable. It's frustrating and ironic to me that Ms. Dunham's recent admission that it was all an 'unfortunate and surreal coincidence' echoes my earlier comment to a reporter printed over six weeks ago...I want to be very clear: I have absolutely no reason to doubt Ms. Dunham's claim that she was sexually assaulted in college. I hope, too, that her story brings courage and strength to other survivors of sexual assaults. I also hope that my story will serve as an example to those who are falsely accused or incorrectly placed under suspicion of serious sexual misconduct allegations that the truth will eventually come out."

She played the victim

After receiving criticism for the Barry situation involving her book, Dunham penned a woe-is-me essay for BuzzFeed, writing, "Speaking out about the realities and complexities of sexual assault is how we begin to protect each other. I do not want our daughters born into a world that reacts to sexual violence against women in this way. This reaction, which ranges from skepticism to condemnation to threats of violence, is something I have been subject to as a woman in a position of extraordinary privilege."

Dunham seemed to forget that had her assault story not simultaneously ruined the the reputation of a person presumed innocent, it's unlikely others would have criticized her writing so vehemently.

She worked with Terry Richardson

Photographer Terry Richardson has faced numerous allegations of sexual harassment. As a self-described feminist, it would probably behoove Dunham not to work with him, but she has, even after his accusations became public. When Dunham called out R. Kelly for accusations of sexual assault, writer Michelle Malkin called out Dunham for posing sans pants for Richardson.

Dunham grew defensive, writing a series of since-deleted tweets (via Twitchy), "Anyone who thinks I was saying anything but that R. Kelly is a sickening criminal is reading selectively. Someone implied my statement about R Kelly was invalid because I've had my photograph taken by Terry Richardson. I responded asking that my feminism not be picked apart because of one PR experience. You don't learn to say no overnight."

She called out a magazine for retouching her (when they didn't)

Lena Dunham called out Tentaciones magazine, an insert that goes in El Pais, Spain's highest-circulating newspaper, for retouching her...but they didn't. In a since-deleted Instagram post (via E! News), Dunham wrote, "Oh hello El Pais! I am genuinely honored to be on your cover and so happy you licensed a pic by @ruvenafanador, who always makes me feel gorgeous. BUT this is NOT what my body has ever looked like or will ever look like—the magazine has done more than the average photoshop. So if you're into what I do, why not be honest with your readers? Much love, Lena."

Tentaciones replied in a statement, "Of course, we are aware that any medium has to take responsibility for what it publishes, but this photo was previously approved by the agency, the photographer and your publicist. For our cover, we used a picture from a session you did in 2013 with photographer Ruven Afanador, published at the time by Entertainment Weekly. Tentaciones acquired that picture through the Corbis agency and used the original that was sent to us without applying any retouching. Those who know and follow our magazine know that we do not use Photoshop or other digital tools to change the physique of the people featured on our cover or inside stories. This time we just cropped the original image to fit the format of our cover."

It's unclear why Dunham never called out Entertainment Weekly for using the retouched photos.

She exhibits classism

When Dunham was on the Howard Stern Show, the self-proclaimed King of All Media apologized for calling her "a little fat girl who kind of looks like Jonah Hill." That was a kind move, right?

Her retort wasn't much better. In fact, some called it classist and racist. She told Stern, "I'm not that fat, Howard...I'm not super thin, but I'm thin, for like, Detroit." Considering Detroit's racial and socioeconomic demographics, it's not a stretch to construe her remark as perpetuating stereotypes about the long-struggling city.

She seems to forget people of color exist...

Girls is set in Brooklyn, which is one of the most diverse places on the planet, but for a very long time, audiences were hard pressed to find any people of color on the show, even as extras. When faced with criticism for whitewashing the city, she told NPR, "I take that criticism very seriously... As much as I can say [writing four white main characters] was an accident, it was only later as the criticism came out, I thought, 'I hear this and I want to respond to it.'"

Her response was casting Donald Glover as a short-lived love interest who happened to be a Republican. That's it.

...even when they're famous

In a since-deleted Instagram post, Dunham celebrated the 2015 Emmys with a photo of Barbra Streisand clutching her own trophy in 1965 and the caption, "This pic is dedicated to the radical women I worship from up close and afar who were all over tonight's Emmys. @amyschumer @jillsoloway @carrie_rachel @zoetrope9 @hereisgina Jane Anderson, Amy P, Gabs H, her Majesty Fran McD and so many more you know who you are and your magic is lifting us higher!" That seems awesome, right? Until you realize Dunham omitted three women of color who won Emmys that very evening: Regina King, Viola Davis, and Uzo Aduba. When called out on the omissions, she eventually added Aduba and Davis to the middle of her list, perhaps in an effort to look like she included them from the get-go.

She perpetuates nepotism

Dunham's parents are artists Laurie Simmons and Carroll Dunham. Her Girls castmates have similar socioeconomic backgrounds: Jemima Kirke's father is Bad Company drummer Simon Kirke, Allison Williams is the daughter of embattled news anchor Brian Williams, and Zosia Mamet is the daughter of famed playwright David Mamet. Privileged much?

Gloria Steinem called her out for problematic feminism

Being trapped in the cycle of domestic abuse, as Rihanna likely was when she took Chris Brown back after brutally assaulting her in 2009, is bad enough. It's even worse when you have strangers, like Dunham, publicly judging you for it. In 2013, Dunham told WNYC (via Jezebel), "I used to be really into Rihanna, that pop star, and then it's like—again, I don't want to ever throw stones from my glass house—but I follow her on Instagram and I just think about how many little girls beyond what I could even comprehend are obsessed with Rihanna. Like, you know, she left Barbados, she's had this amazing career, she's won a Grammy...She's talented. And then she gets back together with Chris Brown and posts a million pictures of them smoking marijuana together on a bed. And it cracks my heart in half in a way that makes me feel like I'm 95 years old." Before that, she'd tweeted, "Rihanna and Chris Brown's new duets make me want to go hide under Gloria Steinem's bed for 72 hours."

Steinem came out against Dunham's stance, telling Jezebel, "Here's the view from under my bed: Most women leaving violent relationships return at least once because their self-authority has been eviscerated and replaced with a partner's authority. Think Stockholm Syndrome. Rihanna probably needs support, not criticism, and her return could be a cause for teaching, not despair."

She dissed India

In Rolling Stone, Dunham managed to insult India a lot, telling the magazine, "I had this dumb, Western idea, like, I'm going to go to India and it's gonna be so transcendent that I'm not gonna be afraid of death anymore, and I'm going to lay down so many of my Western anxieties and embrace a new kind of knowingness and bring it back to the U.S." That sounds fair enough, right?

Except Dunham wasn't done. She immediately added, "We do a really good job in this country of basically sealing off sick people and sealing off toilets and sealing off everything that lets us know we're animals. And in India not only do they not do that, there's no interest in doing that."

She was racist in her depiction of Japan...

Then there was the blog she wrote about visiting Japan in 2011 that may as well have just been a giant photo of herself in yellow-face. She regurgitated slews of stereotypes about Japanese people that aren't just trite, but also inaccurate, including assertions that "no one [there] can take a joke," that hentai pornography is everywhere, and that they pronounce "happy birthday" as "hoppy borsday."

...and other things

The Daily Mail got its hands on racist tweets from Dunham going back years. One post from 2011 read, "An uncool thought to have: 'is that guy walking in the dark behind me a rapist? Never mind, he's Asian.'" Another questionable tweet from 2010 says, "Just found my 'creativity journal' from 2005. It begins: 'I dreamed I was a prostitute and that I molested a little African American rodent'" (via the Daily Star).

She's still somehow sensitive about cultural appropriation

Even though Lena Dunham has no real issue insulting other cultures, she loves calling out anyone else she sees allegedly doing the same. When students at her alma mater, Oberlin College, called their dining hall sushi a form of cultural appropriation, Dunham stood with them, despite being extremely ignorant about Japanese culture herself. "There are now big conversations at Oberlin, where I went to college, about cultural appropriation and whether the dining hall sushi and banh mi disrespect certain cuisines. 
The press reported it as, 'How crazy are Oberlin kids?' But to me, it was actually, 'Right on,'" she told Food & Wine magazine.

Of course, Dunham ignored that most of the food we enjoy, as The Washington Post noted, is somewhat appropriated from other cultures. If Dunham wanted to be on the right side of an issue for once, she picked the wrong subject.

Her abortion comments offended pro-life and pro-choice camps

Dunham must love the taste of shoe leather, because she just can't stop putting her foot in her mouth. The Girls star groveled for forgiveness after receiving a slew of backlash for insensitive comments she made about abortion.

On Dunham's Women of the Hour podcast, she described her experience at a Planned Parenthood clinic when a girl asked her about abortion (via Entertainment Weekly). "'I haven't had an abortion,' I told her," Dunham, 30, said. "I wanted to make it really clear to her that as much as I was going out and fighting for other women's options, I myself had never had an abortion. Even I, the woman who cares as much as anybody about a woman's right to choose, felt it was important that people know I was unblemished in this department. Now I can say that I still haven't had an abortion, but I wish I had."

Dunham, an outspoken advocate for reproductive rights, received a whole lot of criticism for her comment by both pro-choice and pro-life camps. "I can't even imagine how offensive Lena Dunham's comments are to women who actually had to go through abortions," tweeted one outraged follower. Another tweeted, "Saying you wish you'd had an abortion is the stigmatizing action here...Abortion is a HARD choice to make, not a trip to get froyo."

Dunham responded with an apology and a few excuses for the seemingly flippant remark. "I would never, ever intentionally trivialize the emotional and physical challenges of terminating a pregnancy. My only goal is to increase awareness and decrease stigma," she said on Instagram. "I take reproductive choice in America more seriously than I take literally anything else, and therefore own full responsibility for any words I speak that don't convey the truth clearly." She added, "I know plenty of people will never like a thing that leaves my lips, mea culpas or no, but this apology is for the women who have placed their trust in me. You mean everything to me. My life is and always will be devoted to reproductive justice and freedom. I look forward to fighting with you all for the next four years and beyond."