Girls Gone Real: Hollywood’s Image-Mocking New Stars

They may not behave the way we expect—or want—them to, but Jennifer Lawrence and Lena Dunham offer refreshing new images of  female stars

by Susan Toepfer • MORE Features/Entertainment Editor
jennifer lawrence and lena dunham image
Jennifer Lawrence and Lena Dunham having fun at the 13th Annual AFI Awards

I would really like to adopt Jennifer Lawrence. But since she seems to have perfectly nice parents and I have a perfectly nice daughter, I have a backup plan: I want her to marry my son. (“Great idea!” he agrees. “How do we make it happen?”) I can see her flopping around our apartment in pajama bottoms and a T-shirt, dropping a bowl of mashed potatoes maybe or reacting to our bulldog’s drool.
 
I’m not so sure about Lena Dunham, who just might walk naked into the room, as she does with such disconcerting aplomb in nearly every episode of her HBO series Girls. And I’d definitely get nervous if she asked for a Q-tip. Just weeks ago, her self-written character, Hannah, was caught doing bloody damage to her eardrum with that cosmetic tool.
 
But what I love about both these women—and what may be the only thing they have in common—is the way they go through life without shame or sham. Forget Hollywood history and expectations; Lawrence, 22, and Dunham, 26, say what they mean, spontaneously spitting out their actual thoughts (“You guys are just standing up because you feel bad that I fell,” Jennifer said, accepting the Best Actress Oscar after her Dior dive) and slapping down detractors (“Get used to it,” Dunham told critics of her flaw-revealing red-carpet shorts, “because I am going to show my thighs every day till I die”). With Lawrence, we get glamour gone goofy; Dunham dares to tread the take-me-or-leave-me terrain previously reserved for proudly misbehaving men.
 
Maybe it’s the Internet influence—they are the generation who grew up putting it all online—or the result of those storied efforts to bolster girls’ self-esteem; some might even call their insistence on being themselves entitlement’s final frontier. But these stars don’t feel the need to spin. They allow us to watch them evolve, test the waters, make mistakes. And as much as I might miss the elegance of Audrey Hepburn or the mystery of Julie Christie, I’m starting to see more value in two mouthy new idols who, probably and charmingly, don’t give a damn what I think.

Next: Funniest Women on Screen

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