In case you have not been privy to the brilliance of Lena Dunham’s Lenny Letter, allow us to happily initiate you. It is essentially a twice weekly newsletter – full issues on Tuesdays and an in-depth interview on Fridays – created by Lena Dunham and her Girls co-creator Jenni Konner that challenges, enlightens and informs the Instagram generation on a myriad of women’s issues from the more eccentric topics (“Jenny Slate Got a Vajacial So You Don’t Have To!“), followed by more serious how-tos — one of which offered tips on negotiating maternity leave at a small company and applying for a job while pregnant.
While everything in the newsletter is worth reading (horoscopes and short stories included), it’s the celebrity interviews and essays have been among the most engaging — no doubt because they’ve included chats with some of the most revered women of the moment. Dunham is using the halo of her fame to spotlight iconic female figures and educate us on some of the most badass women around the world, what they stand for and why it’s more than okay to go against the status quo.
Here’s five of our favourite Lenny Letters to get you started:
1. Jennifer Lawrence: “Why Do I Make Less Than My Male Co‑Stars?”
Jennifer Lawrence’s pointed essay on sexism and the gender wage gap elevated both issues into the spotlight as she wrote of her disappointment that she didn’t fight harder upon learning that she had been paid considerably less than her male stars in American Hustle following the Sony hack. Her intelligent pose detailed how she shied away from pursuing negotiations further, afraid she would come off as a brat — a phobia that plagues so many women throughout their careers.
“I would be lying if I didn’t say there was an element of wanting to be liked that influenced my decision to close the deal without a real fight,” she wrote. “I didn’t want to seem ‘difficult’ or ‘spoiled.’ At the time, that seemed like a fine idea, until I saw the payroll on the Internet and realised every man I was working with definitely didn’t worry about being ‘difficult’ or ‘spoiled.’ ”
Read the full letter HERE
2. Julianne Moore: When Gun Safety Got Personal For Me
Moore may be an Oscar-winning actress, but her most important role is currently happening away from the camera. The 54-year-old actress has decided to tackle the prevalent gun culture in the States and is calling on other Hollywood heavyweights to join her. She founded an Everytown for Gun Safety Committee in response to escalating and possibly preventable violence in her home country and wrote in Lenny of the time when the issue became deeply personal for her.
“It felt ridiculous to me, and irresponsible as a parent and as a citizen, that I was not doing something to prevent gun violence. Simply keeping the news away from my child was putting my head in the sand. I wasn’t helping her, or anyone else, by doing that. So I decided to learn more.”
Read her powerful letter HERE
3. Why Kesha’s Case Is About More Than Kesha
Dunham and the Lenny crew united in solidarity with singer Kesha after it had emerged she was bound to a recording contract and to her former collaborator and producer Lukasz Gottwald, who allegedly abused her. Dunham’s emotional words highlight an American legal system that continues to hurt women by “failing to protect them from the men they identify as their abusers.”
“Kesha’s case is about more than a pop star fighting for her freedom, or a $60 million investment in a shiny commercial career. It’s about more than whether Kesha can strap on her cool leotards and make another album, free from a man who she says terrifies her.”
Read the letter HERE
4. Michelle Obama: Why Global Girls’ Education Is So Personal for Me
The inspiring First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama, used the Lenny medium to speak directly to her audience (over 60,000 subscribers and counting) about an issue she cares deeply and passionately about; her Let Girls Learn education initiative. Noting how the conversation about girls’ global education often gets into the “political weeds,” Obama wrote the hardships many young women face in going to school are very real, but the discussion sometimes misses the “fundamental point that this issue isn’t just about access to resources like scholarships, transportation, and school bathrooms. It’s also very much about attitudes and beliefs: the belief that girls should be valued for their bodies, not their minds; the belief that girls simply aren’t worthy of an education, and their best chance in life is to be married off when they’re barely even teenagers and start having children of their own. I see myself in these girls — in their ambition and their determination to rise above their circumstances.”
Read the full letter HERE
5. The Lenny Interview: Hillary Clinton
She’s in the midst of what is one of the most fraught and talked about presidential races in years, but Clinton still found time for Lenny. Dunham sat down for a one-on-one talk with this powerful political figure about how she went from being a “Goldwater Girl” Republican to a Democrat in college, her uncertainty about law school, marrying Bill and her fear she might lose her identity, and her plans for ameliorating student loan debt for Millennials if she becomes President. Nothing was off limits and this enigmatic woman also spoke about her life prior to her career beginnings and her first job – which was “gutting salmon.” The reader is shown another side to Clinton, and it makes for a truly interesting read.