Why I Love Watching Hannah Horvath Have Sex on HBO’s Girls

Why I Love Watching Hannah Horvath Have Sex on HBO’s Girls

There’s been a lot of talk in the past year or so about Lena Dunham’s nudity in the show Girls. Some people think it’s unnecessary, other people think it’s empowering and some people have actually said they think it’s disgusting. Personally, I think it’s awesome.

When I was growing up, I rarely saw girls anywhere on TV or in magazines that looked like me. My weight has fluctuated from average to fairly chubby and then back down again several times in my life but even at my thinnest, I have never ever seen a body in traditional media that has looked even remotely similar to mine. 

I have noticed that there are only 3 primary body types that are acceptable for women in the mainstream (read: Western) entertainment industry. Thin, plus-sized and bombshell. Thin includes 99% of Hollywood actresses and needs no further explanation. Plus-sized means the fat funny girl – Roseanne Barr, Melissa Macarthy, Kath Kinney. Then there’s what’s supposed to be the ‘in between’ category which I call ‘bombshell’. This category includes Christina Hendricks, Sophia Vergara, Beyoncé, Salma Hayek and JLo. Women who have curvy hips and breasts and are celebrated for ‘embracing their body types‘. The caveat with this body type is that these women are not allowed to have belly fat or arm fat and their legs must be perfectly toned and preferably tanned. Curvy is certainly acceptable but it has to be the ‘right’ type of curvy. Flat stomached hourglass to be precise.

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The problem I have with these body types is that hardly anyone I know in real life fits into these categories. I’m certainly not thin but I’m certainly not plus-sized and with my chubby belly, small breasts, short legs and 5’8 stature, I’m not exactly ticking all the boxes for the bombshell category either, which brings me back to why I love watching Hannah Horvath have sex on Girls.

Before Girls, I had never seen a woman on TV or in a movie who looks anything like me, being portrayed as being loved, being desirable or god forbid, having sex. Only women who are well proportioned with a low body fat percentage are allowed to have meaningful sex and be romanced on-screen. If you fall into any other category, there’s always a catch. For example plus-sized girls don’t have sex on-screen, it’s just not the done thing. They have twee little condescending romances with some average Joe and their sex lives are not spoken about. Bombshells are usually represented as ‘the other women’  because any woman with tits bigger than a C is obviously going to steal somebody else’s husband. Hollywood curvy actresses are usually only cast for sex appeal or comic relief. It seems to me that you can be a size 6, a size 6 with ample tits and ass or a size 20 plus. Sadly, average women sized anywhere from 10 to 16, are almost completely absent. Which is really weird. 

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Why I Love Watching Hannah Horvath Have Sex on HBO’s Girls

When I see Lena Dunham playing Hannah, being caressed by the character’s boyfriend Adam and watching him run his hands over her soft belly, cup her tiny boobs and squeeze her fleshy arms it makes me really happy because it’s the closest thing I’ve seen to a recognisable woman’s body on television. My body is nowhere near identical to Lena Dunham’s but her figure is the most personally relatable one I’ve ever seen. She looks like a regular person. She looks like any one of my gorgeous friends. Not fat, not thin, looks like she ate lunch and doesn’t have too much trouble buying jeans that fit. She has relationships, hot sex and one night stands with lots of different kinds of men, all of which find her hot as hell. This is a very accurate representation of most of the women in my life and I for one would like to see more of it. 

Many people would argue that there’s no such thing as an ‘average’ woman but I beg to differ. Of the females in my life, I have one friend who’s a size 6, three or four who are plus-sized, one or two who could be considered bombshells and the other 50 odd women fall into a category that can only be described as average, yet we’re the least represented ‘body type’ in mainstream media. It’s bizarre.

To a less damaging degree, when I was kid I thought that I’d never have a successful relationship because I have curly hair. True story. Think about it. My one representative was Felicity and if I remember correctly she was a total doormat and was continuously screwed around by the same two guys for four seasons. I was convinced that would never have happened if she had long swishy hair like she was supposed to and this is why hair straighteners are such a massive thing. It’s bollocks.

It’s very similar to the fact that most people on TV are white, able bodied and heterosexual. It’s just not an accurate representation of humanity.

Do you feel under-represented in the entertainment industry? What would you like to see more of on your screen?

Carly is the founding editor of Smaggle which launched in 2007 back when blogging was weird. She has appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Cosmopolitan and Cleo magazines. Hoop earrings are totally her thing and she almost got run over by Myf Warhurst while out jogging one day.

25 Comments

  1. Nicole 8 months ago

    I don’t watch Girls, but agree that as far as representing average sized women, it is refreshing. But there are plenty of boxes that show could be ticking as well. And when people point this out (especially as it’s set in New York), they’re often met with the “isn’t this step good enough for now?” response of “white feminism”.
    There was a thing going around on Tumblr a little while back where Whoopie Goldberg was talking about how it completely opened her eyes to the possibilities of life when she saw Uhura on the original Star Trek. To see a black lady, at the time, playing someone that wasn’t a maid or something similar. It’s so important for all people to see themselves represented in media, and to know how behind we really are on that front in 2014 is really sad.

    I might of said this on here before, but I believe the straight hair obsession is a problem based around race. Again, hiding behind the myth that it’s just about fighting frizz, I think white society in a general way is often uncomfortable with Black people who wear their hair naturally. And that probably transfers over to other races who also have curly hair. It’s of course absurd and based on the disgusting underlying concept of trying to push more whiteness on to everyone. This idea that anyone’s hairstyle, especially the kinds that occur naturally, would be perceived as less professional or neat is a gross, outdated concept.

    What’s so fucked up, I find, with the few “curvy” celebrities who are accepted is that they’re all hourglass. I don’t think a lot of people understand how brainwashed media has made us think that it’s the only acceptable body type. And that it has very little to to do with where you fall on the weight spectrum and more to do with being born with a very specific shape. Any makeover show I’ve ever watched will always talk about wearing a belt around the waste to really “show off the smallest part of your body”. For some people, that’s just simply not true.
    There’s a model called Kate Upton who constantly gets called fat (and I think Kesha is the same) because she has a wider mid-section where her waist doesn’t go in. And people are so tuned into believing that’s wrong because hourglass is what we’re always told is “the height of femininity and sexiness”.
    So you have these young girls (and women, let’s face it) trying to achieve something that their body will NEVER do and feeling like they’re not good enough because of it. Fucked Up!

    Rambling as usual. haha Just once I get started, it’s hard to stop.

    • JessB 8 months ago

      Just because you mentioned Whoopi Goldberg and Star Trek, if you want all the feels, watch this video of someone telling Whoopi what her role as Guinan meant to him:

      • Nicole 8 months ago

        Thank you for posting that. It made me tear up watching it. So beautiful to see the human connection.

  2. Nicole 8 months ago

    P.S. is a D cup considered small breasted? growing up, I was always very flat chested. But since putting on weight, I’ve grown to a sometimes overflowing D cup. I still have the mind-set that I’m small chested, but Anthony says that’s ridiculous. Then you said you were small chested, and we had similar measurements.

    • Author
      Smaggle 8 months ago

      My chest measurement is all in my back – I’m anywhere between a b and c depending on my weight – I’ve never been a D cup. I’m also quite tall so for my size my boobs are small… well average anyway! But I come from a family where everyone has a DD minimum so I’m probably a bit skewed. :-)

      • Nicole 8 months ago

        I have 90% men in my family so I don’t have much to compare to haha.
        Yeah, I’m tall too, and being an a cup, MAYBE a b cup most of my life, when I got to a d cup in the last few years, I still had that flatter chested mind-set.

  3. Maddison Wallace 8 months ago

    Completely agree with all of this. I probably fit into the hollywood stereotype to some extent – I am thin with big breasts and hips…but even that is not enough for me to feel represented in the media. The body types shown on tv aren’t even accurate portrayals of that body type; but instead are these perfected versions which have almost no relationship to real life. I have a supposedly ‘desirable’ figure, but do I have a completely flat stomach, no cellulite or stretchmarks at all, even skin tone, no extra pound anywhere on my body?…no!

    I love watching Girls because even though my ‘body type’ is actually closer to the Hollywood stereotype than it is to Lena Dunham, I feel more represented by her body because of its reality and lack of perfection.

    What I also think plays into this isn’t just that her body isn’t ‘perfect’, but that it is portrayed in real ways. She is not lying around in poses that maximise the right areas and minimise the ‘flaws’…she is in positions which are comfortable and real. We all know that sometimes the sex that feels the best isn’t the type that would be shown on film or in porn, because it doesn’t look a particular way. The sex in Girls is more real because it isn’t framed as a performance, but as something Hannah is actually experiencing and enjoying (in most cases – there’s plenty of awkward less-than-great sex in there too) for herself, not for the viewer.

    Okay that was long haha. Sorry. But yes! I agree with this post :) x

    • Author
      Smaggle 8 months ago

      Exactly! It’s the lack of perfect poses that’s so great. She just sits around like a normal person and I never realised how I hadn’t ever seen that on TV.

  4. Bec 8 months ago

    ‘Not fat, not thin, looks like she ate lunch and doesn’t have too much trouble buying jeans that fit.’ I love this. This is me. I’m so sick of thinking how much better everything would be if I were lighter. There are people who struggle with mobility because of morbid obesity, who am I to complain?!
    Love Lena too.

    • Author
      Smaggle 8 months ago

      I know! I feel the same! I can shop in regular stores and it’s unlikely that I’m going to have to be crane lifted out of my house when I die – I think we can all relax a bit.

  5. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella 8 months ago

    I definitely feel underrepresented. I can also tell when an ad is made in Australia because more often than not, everyone is caucasian. I don’t even fit into the Girls group (which Lena Dunham has addressed and they’re apparently going to do something about).

    • Author
      Smaggle 8 months ago

      That’s exactly what I’m talking about. Even if a show includes a token non-caucasion they’re usually so racially ambigious it defeats the purpose. Like Emily in Pretty Little Liars (terrible example I know!) but she is just a completely different race to the people who play her parents and they won’t commit to what her origin is on the show. It’s ridiculous. It’s so that she can be the one that everyone non-white can relate to. Like as if it’s a whole category. White and non-white. She’s so token it’s embarrassing.

  6. ddgdaily 8 months ago

    Yes. I HATE that the token curvy girls all still have skinny arms and flat stomachs… it’s like they are saying, yes, it’s OK to have curves, they just have to be in the right places. My only issue with Lena Dunham is her lack of bra wearing, I know she has itty bitty titties, but they will still sag without support, and when they end up in her shoes she’ll be sorry ;)

    • Author
      Smaggle 8 months ago

      Oh I agree she could totally stand to wear a bra. I wonder if Lena wears bras? Or if it’s Hannah that doesn’t wear bras? Interesting question no?

      • ddgdaily 8 months ago

        If I ever meet her, that is the first thing I am going to ask! That and can she tell me where Marnie lives so I can go and trip her over … because she’s a real person… right?

  7. JessB 8 months ago

    Lately I have been watching a lot of ABC shows, which include a lot of Indigenous actors, which I have been loving! I used to work around Collingwood, and still live in the Northern suburbs and see a lot of Indigenous faces in my world, and it always upset that they weren’t included in television. I think television these days is so ubiquitous that not seeing a reflection of yourself on TV must be really difficult for people – think of putting an Asian or Indigenous family on a show like Neighbours!
    I’ve also seen information that says that children need to have dolls that reflect themselves, and their world – so Asian kids don’t have to just play with dolls with Asian faces, but they should be included in their play.

    • Author
      Smaggle 7 months ago

      I totally agree! I live in Fitzroy and cannot understand why there aren’t more indigenious people in the intertainment industry. Obviously there’s Debra Mailman (who I love!) but it’s like ‘Oh we’ll just get Deb!’ everytime there’s a indigenious character in a show. Also why can’t she just play a character? Like a doctor? Or a spy?

  8. Roberts 8 months ago

    Beyonce is the poster girl for curvy women. And I think she is totally bangin’. But the guy who did her Grammys costume casually mentioned to the press she is currently an Aussie size six. A SIZE SIX POSTER GIRL FOR REAL-WOMAN CURVES. Let that sink in for a minute…!

    • Author
      Smaggle 7 months ago

      Totally! Size 6 is TINY!!! I literally know ONE person who’s a size 6 and it’s completely natural. She doesn’t try at all. If you’re not naturally a 6 six you won’t ever be!

  9. Tahlia Meredith 8 months ago

    Great article lady (as always!) When I first watched Girls I found it a bit…uncomfortable I guess, because it felt like the sex scenes were orchestrated towards shocking rather than real. I stuck with it though and I’m glad I did – those scenes are definitely more real now, and I definitely agree that it’s awesome to see someone real and natural and imperfect who’s not afraid to be neked on our screens!

    • Author
      Smaggle 7 months ago

      I found them… new… I guess when I first saw them and then I realised that’s what sex is actually like. Especially in you’re early 20s with men that a bit grubby and weird. I loved it! I think the show is fab.

  10. Cybele @ BlahBlah 7 months ago

    Hear, hear! Sounds like, I need to watch Girls. This whole business of having such a narrow definition of attractive really gets me on the crapper. The body, what it does, is AMAZING. Thereby, we’re all frickn amazeballs no matter what we look like.

    • Author
      Smaggle 7 months ago

      Oh yes! Totally! Also bodies are really transient… I look different nearly every year and so do my friends. So who really cares?

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