Lena Dunham's New Plus-Size Line Slammed for Cost, Sizes

Critics say not enough larger sizes are actually offered, and that pieces are too expensive
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 9, 2021 1:21 PM CDT
Critics Blast Lena Dunham's 'Inclusive' New Clothing Line
Lena Dunham attends the premiere of the final season of HBO's "Veep" on March 26, 2019, in New York.   (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

Lena Dunham has a new clothing line out, but like much other news involving Lena Dunham, it's a project not without controversy. Per Today, the collaboration between the 34-year-old Girls star and fashion retailer 11 Honore offers various apparel for women sizes 12 through 26, a line Dunham says was inspired by and named for places near where she grew up in the '80s and '90s in the SoHo neighborhood of New York City. "I want to send the message that being curvy is something to celebrate, not simply handle," she says. But Dunham is already taking flak for the collection, not only for the price of the pieces—ranging from $98 for a white tank top to nearly $300 for a double-breasted pinstriped blazer—but also for the fact that it doesn't have as wide of a size range as some other plus-size brands. Others think Dunham is hijacking the body positive movement without paying sufficient attention to those who've put the most work into it: namely, women of color. More reaction:

  • Bigger is better: Mayra Mejia notes for NBC News that backlash against the collection has been "huge," especially since the "inclusive" line doesn't go past size 26; Meija notes that other plus-size brands go up to size 40 or 42. "Across the fashion industry, the term 'inclusive' itself has begun to feel more like a marketing ploy than a pledge," she notes.
  • A question of privilege?: Mejia also points out that Dunham "is a wealthy white woman" who's getting all the recognition for her venture—not women of color ("especially Black women") who "have worked tremendously hard to empower and publicize the body positive movement."

  • The price tag: Then there's the cost, which Mejia notes may put plus-sized people, shown to not earn as much as "straight-size" customers, at a disadvantage. The price "will make the clothing largely inaccessible to many," she writes.
  • Addressing the criticism: So what about the price and size issues? Danielle Eke, 11 Honore's design chief, explains in a statement that the plus-size market has traditionally catered to a lower to mid-price point. Now, however, the brand is trying to reach "a different customer [with] a little more money to spend and ... looking for quality over quantity." She adds that down the line, the company plans to expand its offerings not only in sizes and styles, but also in terms of the price tag.
  • The real problem: None of this, however, bothers Juliet James as much as one key factor: Dunham herself. James writes for HuffPost that Dunham still seems to struggle with her own body image, seeming to note in a recent interview with the New York Times that she's self-conscious about her "triple chin" and that no one wants to see the extra skin on her "old man" gut. "Perhaps before trying to sell clothes to fat people, she should've done some unpacking of her own internalized weight stigma," James writes.
  • An IG timeline: Page Six takes a more upbeat look back at some of Dunham's body-positive posts, putting herself "on display all while challenging naysayers and harsh critics."
  • More from Lena: She talks more with the Times about how she and 11 Honore founder Patrick Herning came up with the idea for the collection. She also admits to what the paper labels her own "complicated and very public relationship with her body," due to both physical problems and "personal issues." Dunham says she's now accepted how she looks, though she admits she's isn't completely free of self-criticism: "It doesn't mean I haven't felt a lot of body hatred in lockdown."
(More Lena Dunham stories.)

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