The Huffington Post attempts to shock us today by posting an infographic analyzing the facial structures of several celeb types — you know, using that whole “facial symmetry” thing — and declaring that, oh my God! Lena Dunham is just as attractive, i.e. symmetrical, as, like, George Clooney.
What seems like a “defense” of Dunham against ongoing “criticism” of her looks, however, is just one more way of playing into said “debate.” We are surprised by her looks because we have set the standard so high for Hollywood stars that only the freakishly good-looking need apply for the job of making us laugh, cry, and think onscreen. This infographic ends up proving something interesting, even if it does so indirectly: It shows that even those playing “unattractive” characters are still above and beyond genetically superior to us mere mortals. They still have great bone structure, perfect skin, and often amazing teeth (or caps). Meanwhile, incidentally, the calculations used in this chart — the nose-to-mouth ratio, for instance — seem pretty Eurocentric.
But more to the point, why do we keep talking about how Dunham looks at all? Well, partly because she baits us. She undresses with higher-than-average frequency, even for an HBO show, on Girls. She gives her character a dreamy one-weekend-stand with the impossibly handsome Patrick Wilson. Perhaps with the help of her work, we’ll get used to seeing a girl outside Hollywood’s strict norms being sexual, lovable, relatable, and fallible. And we won’t have to pull apart every starlet’s physical qualities quite so viciously.
I keep having the same instinct that many other bloggers have when this discussion pops up: I want to say, Lena Dunham is cute! Leave her alone! But that still misses the bigger picture. It doesn’t matter whether Dunham is cute; it only matters that she is talented and makes us think. Her looks are none of our business, symmetrical or not.
Hollywood.comcorrespondent Jennifer Keishin Armstrong is the author of two forthcoming books, Sexy Feminism (due out in March) and Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted, a history of The Mary Tyler Moore Show (due out in May). For more information visit JenniferKArmstrong.com.
Follow Jennifer on Twitter @jmkarmstrong
[Photo Credit: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic]