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Lena Dunham Is a Body Positivity Role Model: Read Her Most Impactful Quotes Through the Years

Lena Dunham Quotes About Body Positivity
Lena Dunham Stephane Cardinale - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

Lena Dunham is proud of her body no matter what anyone else thinks.

“I always shudder to make big statements, but I have to say, the past two years haven’t just been the happiest years of my adult life, they’ve been the happiest years of my life,” Dunham exclusively told Us Weekly in November 2019. “And that’s not because they’ve been perfect. It’s because I now have the tools based on what I’ve been through — whether it’s losing my health or ending a long relationship, or, you know, challenges with addiction.”

According to Dunham, managing various struggles made her stronger.

“Learning that they don’t define me and that I actually have the tools to live a life of relative freedom has made me so much more confident, grounded, present,” she told Us. “It’s not that issues don’t come up, it’s that I have the tools to manage those issues, and that’s really what I wish for every woman.”

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Dunham has often shared her health struggles — she underwent a hysterectomy at 31 in 2018 after battling endometriosis — publicly through the years.

“The reason I’ve been so insistent on sharing my experiences, I think, we have to be reminded again and again and again that we’re not alone,” she told Us. “I know that even when people [are] like, ‘Enough is enough, quit talking about your, you know, uterus or whatever,’ I want other people to know that they’re not alone.”

Keep scrolling to read Dunham’s most empowering quotes about body positivity, confidence and self-acceptance:

Defending ‘Girls’ Nudity

Much of the online criticism of Dunham’s body began when she filmed multiple nude scenes for Girls.

“It’s a realistic expression of what it’s like to be alive, I think, and I totally get it,” she told reporters in 2014. “If you’re not into me, that’s your problem, and you’re going to have to kind of work that out with whatever professionals you’ve hired.”

She later revealed that she was in a “rage spiral” that a journalist had asked about filming revealing scenes, citing it wasn’t necessary to the story lines.

“This idea that he would talk to a woman like that and accuse a woman of showing her body too much. The idea, it just makes me sort of sick,” Dunham tearfully said.

Comparing Herself to Others

Lena Dunham Quotes About Body Positivity
Lena Dunham Mike Marsland/WireImage/Getty Images

Dunham felt insecure when she joined pal Taylor Swift during one of her 1989 World Tour concerts.

“I was so thrilled to support my friend and so displeased to learn about the truth of my own height,” she recalled in 2015. “I’ve been feeling pretty tall and feeling pretty sturdy, and it was amazing to be, like, ‘Oh, I’m not tall, I’m chubby.’ It’s different. On most days, I feel really great and fine about my body, but I don’t think standing next to, like, three supermodels or so is anything even the most confident woman needs to do.”

She continued, “When I socialize with those women, which I’ve done a little bit because they’re good friends of Taylor’s, who is a good friend of mine, I don’t feel so strange. But the minute I caught sight of myself in the Jumbotron, I knew something was very wrong.”

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Showing Off Cellulite and Other Flaws

When Dunham and her Girls costars posed for the February 2017 cover of Glamour, she made a point not to edit out her cellulite.

“Okay, here goes: throughout my teens I was told, in no uncertain terms, that I was f–king funny looking,” Dunham wrote via Instagram. “Potbelly, rabbit teeth, knock knees — I could never seem to get it right and it haunted my every move. I posed as the sassy confident one, secretly horrified and hurt by careless comments and hostility. Today this body is on the cover of a magazine that millions of women will read, without photoshop, my thigh on full imperfect display.”

She added, “Whether you agree with my politics, like my show or connect to what I do, it doesn’t matter — my body isn’t fair game. No one’s is, no matter their size, color, gender identity, and there’s a place for us all in popular culture to be recognized as beautiful. Haters are gonna have to get more intellectual and creative with their disses in 2017 because none of us are going to be scared into muumuus by faceless basement dwellers, or cruel blogs, or even our partners and friends.”

She Is ‘Proud of What My Body Has Seen and Done’

Lena Dunham Quotes About Body Positivity
Lena Dunham Steve Granitz/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Dunham, who lost weight in 2017 when Donald Trump was elected president following a depressive episode, is not a fan of people constantly commenting on her slimdown.

“I feel I’ve made it pretty clear over the years that I don’t give even the tiniest of s–ts what anyone else feels about my body,” she wrote via Instagram that March. “I’ve gone on red carpets in couture as a size 14. I’ve done sex scenes days after surgery, mottled with scars. I’ve accepted that my body is an ever-changing organism, not a fixed entity — what goes up must come down and vice versa. I smile just as wide no matter my current size because I’m proud of what this body has seen and done and represented. Chronic illness sufferer. Body-shaming vigilante. Sexual assault survivor. Raging hottie. Just like all of YOU.”

She’s ‘Body Tolerant’

Dunham, however, doesn’t like the phrase “body positive.”

“I’ve never called myself ‘body positive’ because my relationship with my curves and scars isn’t overtly political — it’s wildly personal,” she wrote via Instagram in March 2020. “It isn’t always positive. I take enormous comfort in the body positivity movement, but I think of myself as something more like ‘body tolerant.’”

After battling chronic diseases, Dunham knows she can “resent [her] body” at times.

“We are no longer in an on-and-off toxic romance,” she added. “We are also not monogamous. I drift toward her and away from her, trying hard to remember that, no matter how I fight it, she is me. I am her. We only have each other, so we gotta stick together. And sometimes that means a little lace to remind her I care.”

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Not Here for the Haters

After Dunham married Luis Felber in 2021, she was told by social media trolls to feel “ashamed” of the way she looked on her wedding day.

“One narrative I take issue with, largely because it’s a story I don’t want other women, other people, to get lodged in their heads is that I should somehow be ashamed because my body has changed since I was last on television,” Dunham wrote via Instagram. “Firstly ‘Did Lena eat the cast of Girls?’ just isn’t a very good joke — I could punch that up for the Tweeter. Secondly, it’s ironic to have my body compared to a body that was also the subject of public scorn — an echo chamber of body-shaming.”

Taking a Step Back From ‘Too Much’

Dunham created Netflix’s Too Much, which premieres in 2025 and is loosely inspired by her courtship with Felber. Despite the show’s semi-autobiographical nature, Dunham opted against starring in it.

“I was not willing to have another experience like what I’d experienced around Girls at this point in my life,” she told The New Yorker in July 2024. “Physically, I was just not up for having my body dissected again. It was a hard choice, not to cast Meg [Stalter] — because I knew I wanted Meg — but to admit that to myself.”

She continued, “I used to think that winning meant you just keep doing it and you don’t care what anybody thinks. I forgot that winning is actually just protecting yourself and doing what you need to do to keep making work.”

Hacks star Stalter will portray the Dunham-inspired character onscreen.

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