In her 28 years, Lena Dunham has had a few lovers, seen a few psychiatrists, and dated a few famous people. She’s neither a mom nor an executive, and she doesn’t have a PhD — all of which she'll readily admit. She's notorious for being naked on-screen, and, off-screen, when fully clothed, she frequently lands on worst-dressed lists. And, she's seen her fair share of criticism. Sure, she’s written and directed a handful of indie films and created an HBO series, but where does she get off trying to give you advice?
In her new book, Not That Kind Of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She's "Learned" (out September 30 from Random House), Dunham tries to answer that very question. She acknowledges everything that she is not (ahem, see above) and owns up to her shortcomings. The native New Yorker and daughter of famed artists never plays down her privilege. She doesn’t claim to have all the answers. But, she proudly declares that, like so many girls out there, she’s bold and strong and ambitious. And, she desperately wants to share her stories with the world.
“I am a girl with a keen interest in having it all,” she writes. “And what follows are hopeful dispatches from the frontlines of that struggle.”
Not That Kind Of Girl certainly doesn’t prescribe a magical cure-all for any of the problems that come with that struggle. It will not soothe that nagging feeling that you should have time to cook a four-course meal, run a marathon, be a dynamo in the sack, and get that promotion at work. It will not tell you when to have kids, when to ask for a raise, or even when to take a deep breath and go for that thing you really really want. But, it will reassure you of the fact that you are not alone.
Dunham's stories make it easier for the rest of us, giving us room to stop and take stock and realize that it’s not the end of the world if we spill coffee on our white skirt or say something ridiculous to the hot guy at the bar (or worse, our boss). This book argues that having it all is not about perfection. And, it's a relief to read it.
With that in mind, we distilled the book down to its most important lessons. Up ahead are 13 things we “learned” from Lena Dunham’s first book. But, don’t stop here: Grab your own copy, read it from cover to cover, and then share it with those other women in your life, the ones grappling with the idea of having it all. You know who they are.