New York Times Sparks Debate About The Weight Of Lena Dunham and Claire Danes

Valeria Nekhim

65th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards - Arrivals

It’s a fashion writer’s job to critique, well, fashion, but that doesn’t mean they themselves are immune from criticism, or that they can’t stir up a little controversy of their own.

In her coverage of Sunday night’s Emmy Awards, New York Times writer Ruth La Ferla had this to say about Claire Danes and Lena Dunham‘s fashion choices:

“Ms. Danes proved up to the task, turning out in a Giorgio Armani tulle confection that showed off an ethereal, if slightly skeletal, frame. What Ms. Danes lacked in pulchritude, Lena Dunham of “Girls” supplied in abundance, wearing a coral-rose-patterned Prada gown that (somewhat sloppily) showed off her curves.”

65th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards - Arrivals

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Whenever weight is mentioned in the fashion industry, it’s almost certain a debate will ensue and, as expected, La Ferla’s commentary led The Cut‘s Charlotte Cowles to accuse the author of equating skeletal with ethereal in the case of Danes, and voluptuousness with sloppy in the case of Dunham. Cowles ends her brief post with the following: “These women really can’t win, can they?”

Naturally, other writers have entered the rink to voice their opinions, with Slate‘s Jessica Grose rooting for team La Ferla on the grounds that the Times writer was simply stating the obvious.

“With Danes in particular, her bones are the first thing most people would notice about her appearance in that gown. For any writer, not just a fashion writer, to leave that description out would be a disservice to readers. It would be pretending—for the sake of what?”

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Writing for The Huffington Post, Lauren Duca called La Ferla’s writing “pretentious”, and said her direct comparison of Danes’ and Dunham’s drastically different figures is the worst kind of body shaming, especially given the two women are pals. Duca takes the POV that fashion journalists ought to focus on the clothing and trends rather than on the bodies wearing them.

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What do you think? Are people overreacting, and you prefer writers to tell it as they see it? Or when it comes to discussing female bodies in fashion, should journalists proceed with more caution, or perhaps avoid the topic altogether? Let us know!

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