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Lena Dunham

Lena Dunham apologises to NFL player for Met Gala comments

The actress directly addressed her previous criticism of Odell Beckham Jr in a Lenny Letter interview with Amy Schumer, following social media backlash

Lena Dunham has apologised to NFL player Odell Beckham Jr after making “narcissistic assumptions” about him in a previous Lenny Letter newsletter interview with comedian Amy Schumer.

The Girls creator, while discussing how she felt "out of place" at the Met Gala with Schumer, said that Beckham, who she was seated beside, was more interested in looking at his phone than speaking to her.

“I was sitting next to Odell Beckham Jr., and it was so amazing because it was like he looked at me and he determined I was not the shape of a woman by his standards,” she said. “He was like, ‘That’s a marshmallow. That’s a child. That’s a dog.’ It wasn’t mean — he just seemed confused.”

She added: “The vibe was very much like, ‘Do I want to fuck it? Is it wearing a … yep, it’s wearing a tuxedo. I’m going to go back to my cell phone.’ It was like we were forced to be together, and he literally was scrolling Instagram rather than have to look at a woman in a bow tie. I was like, ‘This should be called the Metropolitan Museum of Getting Rejected by Athletes’.”

Social media was quick to call Dunham out for the racist and sexualising implications of what she said about the NFL player. As Variety reports, the writer Roxane Gay summarised her problematic comments on Twitter.

“When you are a woman who doesn’t fit the traditional beauty ideal you know that look men, mostly give you. It’s painful. And constant,” Gay tweeted. “Dunham was clearly projecting and speaking from a place of knowing what it’s like to receive that look, to be seen but unseen, (but) to use a black man and to name him is such a mess. Her point could have been made without him.”

She continued: “But it wasn’t. And it contributes, intentionally or not, to really damaging ideas about black men and sexuality. Dude was just trying to live his life and now this? Ugh. The response to that interview isn’t mindless outrage. And once more we see why feminism has to be intersectional,  that we have to think about the lived experiences of different bodies.”

Gay also commented on the fact that celebrities like Dunham are subject to more scrutiny for their words and actions: “Famous people experience it way more.”

Dunham has since written an apology on Instagram, directly addressing the criticism she has received since the Lenny Letter.

“I owe Odell Beckham Jr an apology,” she wrote on Instagram. “Despite my moments of bravado, I struggle at industry events (and in life) with the sense that I don’t rep a certain standard of beauty and so when I show up to the Met Ball surrounded by models and swan-like actresses it’s hard not to feel like a sack of flaming garbage. This felt especially intense with a handsome athlete as my dinner companion and a bunch of women I was sure he’d rather be seated with.

“I went ahead and projected these insecurities and made totally narcissistic assumptions about what he was thinking, then presented those assumptions as facts,” she added. “I feel terrible about it.”

“After listening to lots of valid criticism, I see how unfair it is to ascribe misogynistic thoughts to someone I don’t know AT ALL,” she said. “But most importantly, I would never intentionally contribute to a long and often violent history of the over-sexualisation of black male bodies – as well as false accusations by white women towards black men.”

To conclude she said: “I’m so sorry, particularly to OBJ, who has every right to be on his cell phone. The fact is I don’t know about his state of mind (I don’t know a lot of things) and I shouldn’t have acted like I did.”