A Toast to Lena Dunham's Panties
Lena Dunham as Hannah Horvath in HBO's Girls.
Internet assholes are always yelling about what Lena Dunham doesn't wear on Girls, but let's talk about something she does.
Bros who think everything should be marketed to them never get tired of pointing out that Dunham's Hannah Horvath seems to be topless more often than not, a point of controversy among jackasses because she's 13 pounds overweight, as she very specifically reveals during a fight with Adam, Hannah's psychotic on-screen boyfriend. "And it's been horrible for me my whole life," she wails.
But it's not those 13 pounds that truly make her the antithesis of most skinny actresses who have seemingly embraced "famine chic" as a way of life. It's her almost hilariously unsexy panties. Dunham's panties are ill-fitting white cotton. The thinning fabric has unsightly holes. Let's not forget the "weird stains" she references in one episode. There is absolutely nothing sexy about her underwear.
Admit it, women: You have a pair of underwear like that, and they are your favorite. When you wear them, you know you're going to have a good day, because no matter where you are, your crotch feels right at home.
Hannah is not alone in her prominent enjoyment of comfy cotton over black, lacy bullshit. On 30 Rock, Liz Lemon's fiancé discovers her secret wedding journal hidden in a drawer beneath her "panty wad," which sounds like something my Depression-era grandmother might have used to wash the barn windows.
Lemon is no stranger to the Everyone Poops side of femininity. Her weekend plans often included filling a Slanket with farts while enjoying a plate of night cheese, and one of her ambitions is gradually transitioning her pajamas into daywear. She stood out precisely because she was so awkward and average. People root for her because they can relate -- or because she does them one better on the weirdo scale -- and by God, if she could find love, maybe we can, too.
Like Lemon, Hannah on Girls has embraced the truth that bundt cake and pizza do, in fact, taste better than thin feels. In spite of this, she wears short shorts and midriff-bearing tops (and on at least one occasion, some strange item of clothing called "shorteralls," which would probably make Lemon feel old). Dunham strips down to her skivvies in front of millions with less thought than most of us give to what we'll order at Starbucks.
In her carelessness, Hannah has something in common with the king of dirty drawers: Homer Simpson. It was everyone's favorite beer-swilling suburban dad who first made tighty-whiteys funny, but since Homer's heyday, shoddy briefs have become a ubiquitous symbol for men who don't give a fuck. Hannah's case is unique, of course, because she is a woman.
Even with her inherent sloppiness, Hannah wants what everyone wants: to fall in love and be happy. So does Lemon. In fact, the discovery of Lemon's secret journal speaks volumes about her particular romantic quandary. While so many conventionally pretty girls on television and in movies might as well walk around carrying signs written in their own blood that say, "single female seeks husband," Lemon keeps her wedding lust hidden. In a drawer. Beneath a panty wad.
Hannah is also reluctant to admit that she wants to fall in love. Spend a little time on the internet, and it's easy to see why. According to a recent sampling of assholes (who probably all have perfect bodies -- it must be so nice for them), chubby girls should never play topless ping pong lest they appear ungraceful, nor should they have the metaphorical balls to feel comfortable with their lumpy, pizza dough-esque physiques – those are the assholes' words, not mine.
By being unafraid to look gross (read: totally real-life normal) sometimes, Dunham essentially tells the internet to go fuck itself. Privilege and entitlement aside, one thing Dunham gets right is Hannah's underwear. Those are some extremely real underwear that could be fished out of just about any woman's laundry pile, and they demand more honesty from all of us.
Get the Film & TV Newsletter
Stay up to date on the best new movies with our critics' latest reviews, interviews and trailers for the films coming to a theater near you each week.