I was in my film writing class, struggling with my script last week. Professor was saying something about “playing up the disconnect” my main character had while being in another country. Someone suggested I watch Girls, Lena Dunham’s TV show on HBO so that I can see how she writes Shoshana’s journey in Japan.
Luckily enough, my roommate was on that very episode my classmate recommended so I begrudgingly watched it and without meaning too, without expecting it either, I fell in love.
Backtrack to 2012:
I was a junior going on senior in high school, from a small town that shares a mall with other neighboring towns. I saw the trailer for Girls and I was totally on board with young women in a city figuring life out. Mom watched the pilot and didn’t approve of me seeing it however. She’s pretty overprotective and didn’t see Dunham’s work as fit for 16 year old me and I, an obedient child with bushy eyebrows, would follow her rules and stay away from “la muchacha shuka.”
While I was blooming into a feminist/social justice warrior in the following years, I began to learn of Dunham’s tendencies to be hella problematic. Thus, I was prompted to boycott her work, which I found easy because I had never seen any of it anyhow.
Now in 2016:
I was hooked from the random episode of season 5 that I watched. I was invested in these characters, asking my roommate questions about them as she continued season 5 without me. I love Girls, and I hate admitting that it’s one of my favorites. It’s difficult for me to admit I love the work of a notorious White feminist. I even shamefully asked my roommate to get me a copy of Dunham’s film Tiny Furniture.
Often times, I see people like Dunham, or like Fey and Poehler, etc. and think, “If they can do it, so can I.” But then I remember that they don’t have the obstacles I have. They don’t have first generation Brown girl problems or have any concept of what that means. I despair because I feel like I deserve a hero, like I need someone to look up to, someone who looks like me and comes from the same background as me, to keep me motivated in pursuing this writer dream. This is why representation is important.
I vent this to another writer friend, another fellow Woman of Color and she replies, “Do it, and be a hero for others. Do it for the little Brown girls. They’re waiting.” And she’s right. As the saying goes, there’s more than one way to skin a cat and I’ll just have to figure out the Chapina way soon enough.