In light of a recent survey completed by Cosmopolitan.com that concluded that, of the top 100 leading men in Hollywood, 20 had never worked with a single female director, Lena Dunham‘s newest cover for Paper Magazine feels all the more important. More and more, women are feeling the strain of trying to make it in a man’s world, and in very few places is that tension more obvious than Hollywood. From the outrageous, and seemingly insurmountable wage gap between men and women to the obviously ageist standards of the industry, it’s clear that women are, in a way, at a disadvantage. Lena Dunham’s cover, for all of its whimsy and just overall fun, combats that, albeit possibly unintentionally.
Before I continue, let’s all take a gander, shall we?
The caption reads:
“So @papermagazine asked me what my dream was and I told them: to be photographed like the old-timey director man I am inside. Little did I know how beautifully @ellevonunwerth would execute that concept, or that I’d get to wear custom @soniarykiel. Thank you, Paper, for letting me be a tough girl with a pencil thin mustache and longing eyes! #papermagazine #girlsgirlsgirls”
I’ll definitely go on record here and say that my immediate reaction was, “Wow, Lena Dunham looks like the lovechild of Charlie Chaplin and Groucho Marx, and I’m not mad about it.” Because really, who wouldn’t want to be the lovechild of Charlie Chaplin and Groucho Marx?
But seriously, beyond the fact that this cover feels distinctly Lena Dunham (and the coinciding irony of the fact that this issue of Paper Magazine seems to be running with the theme of “Girls Girls Girls”) in its quirkiness, it does inadvertently flip Hollywood’s gender norms on its head. In choosing to be photographed as a “old-timey director man,” a choice that Dunham makes clear was distinctly hers and not the result of some creative director’s hidden agenda, Dunham almost inadvertently makes the point that the masculine and the feminine can occupy the same space, and quite harmoniously, at that. It’s all very Al Pacino and Robert De Niro in Heat of her—”We’re not so different, you and I.”
I won’t be so bold as to speak for Dunham, so I won’t come out and say whether or not I think she chose to shoot this cover with this exact purpose in mind. That said, it’s been established that Dunham isn’t afraid to tackle the sticker subjects, so I don’t think I’d put some kind of ulterior motive past her. If, however, she just intended this to be a fun and unique cover, then kudos: she did it, and wearing custom Sonia Rykiel, no less. Either way, we’re here for it.