In a new essay for her website Lenny titled “My Perfect Fucking Skin,” she reveals how being diagnosed with rosacea at age 31 opened up her eyes to the ways she had previously used her skin as a crutch in her own self-acceptance.
“Seven years of being treated in the public eye like a punch line about female imperfection may not have felt like it was wearing me down, but it had actually forced me to rely emotionally on my one area of fully conventional beauty: my perfect fucking skin,” she wrote.
Dunham said that for years when she received unsolicited negative commentary on her appearance, she consoled herself by focusing her attention on her nearly flawless complexion.
“They could tag me in a picture of a beached whale,” she wrote. “They could call me a bag of cottage cheese. But they couldn’t take away the fact that I was able to eat seven slices of pizza, a wine spritzer, and three quarters of a chocolate cake and still look like my face was kissed by sweet, sweet angels when I woke up. I wasn’t just mourning my easy skin-care routine or my ‘No filter? No problem’ lifestyle. I was mourning a life raft that had kept me, silly as it was, bobbing above the fray.”
Humans, and more specifically women, are constantly forced by society to analyze and overanalyze their physical appearances. While Dunham wrote she largely relied on a “Rihanna” level positive image of herself, she chose to share this most recent experience to connect with readers who, unlike her, are not “female celebrities with access to skin witches” and do not have “the resources the deal in every possible way.”
“There are millions of teenagers applying the entirety of their time, resources, and wit to attacking classmates in painfully inventive ways,” she wrote. “I’m starting to believe that speaking this pain aloud isn’t just good for my own healing: it allows any young woman who might be watching to understand that nobody is immune from feeling bad about hateful attention.”
And while she said she’s not sure what’s to come on her “rosacea journey,” she’s hopeful that her story will remind everyone that when it comes to our “flaws,” whatever we might believe them to be, “none are forever,” she wrote. “I promise you.”