Lena Dunham’s Self Help Book

Lena Dunham, creator of the HBO show, Girls, makes a substantial amount of money for her show and her new self help book. Girls premiered on HBO on April 15, 2012 and garnered Lena 4 Emmy nominations for acting, writing, and directing.

In October of 2012, Lena signed a deal with Random House for 3.5 million dollars to create her own self help book of essays titled Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s Learned. The self-help book proposal was leaked by the gossip blog Gawker and many people questioned what life advice and anecdotes a 26 year old could offer. Turns out, quite a lot actually!

On Huffington Post, Lena’s book is described as “a series of typically witty, entertaining and self-deprecating tales” that “share stories” about one night stands,  travelling and “psychotic overwrought emails” she has sent to guys. Chapters in this book include such titles as work, friendship, body and sex with lessons like “How to dress for a business meeting and other hard-earned  fashion lessons from the size 10 who went to the Met Ball.” There are also many pop references to things like Grey’s Anatomy, Opera and Andy Warhol.

Gawker calls the book “an invitation to get lost in the mind of a girl who is lost in her own mind,” meaning Lena is rather into herself in this book of essays or anecdotes.

Not That Kind of Girl includes such interesting quotes as:

I basically didn’t meet a Republican until I was 19, when I shared an ill-fated evening of love-making with our campus’ resident conservative, who worse snakeskin boots and hosted a radio show called The Spin Chamber.

I’ve been in therapy since I was 7.

I’m already predicting my future shame at thinking I had anything to offer you, but also my future glory in having stopped you from trying an expensive juice cleanse or thinking that it was your fault when some guy suddenly got weird and defensive talking about your cool interests and job.

I went to my first Women’s Action Coalition meeting at age 3.

More quotes from the proposal are available on Gawker. 

So, does Lena owe anybody an apology for this book, and should she, a 26 year old success story (and other young successful people such as Taylor Swift), be bashful about their accomplishments?

I have always been told that if you want to write about something, write about what you know. Lena comes from a unique background with a father who paints “overtly sexualized pop art” and a mother a designer who creates “disquieting domestic tableaux” with dolls; this has got to have given her unique experiences growing up compared to your average North American kid. Her success in itself would lead to interesting experiences for reader’s to consider.

As for owing anybody an apology for what she wrote, that all depends what is in the book specifically. I have learned from personal  experience that one needs to be careful who you talk about  in your writing because some people feel that if you name them, or write about them in your writing, you are “airing dirty laundry,” so to speak. As Dunham’s book appears to be quite “personal” and “self-absorbed” this does not seem to be quite an issue but some of the quotes from Gawker may prove otherwise.

I do not think young talented starlets should be bashful about their success. Success can be fleeting, so I think it is critical to enjoy it while it lasts. Take time to develop your talents, make contacts and life-time partnerships so that you can be successful throughout your career, especially when things may not be so good professionally. I feel that one should not be bashful of their talents whatever their age, especially when they are young. People have talents and gifts at every age to share with other’s and hopefully, make the world a better place.

If talented young adults such as Lena Dunham and Taylor Swift make mistakes while in the spotlight there would most certainly be harsh public criticism, but it is a learning process and this fact speaks to Dunham’s book the most. Even from when you are in high school to your mid-20s you learn a lot of things, and people will react to your learning process in different ways. You cannot control what other people think, but you can be truthful with yourself and share what you have learned, hoping other people will learn from you.