The Alarming Similarities of Lena Dunham and Kim Kardashian

Go with me on this one.


Written by Sophie Milrom

The end of March marked two pop culture milestones: Vogue released its April cover featuring Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, and the season 3 finale of GIRLS aired on HBO. Reading the coverage of these events led me to the realization that Kim and Lena have a lot in common. Just like the opposite of love isn’t hate (it’s indifference), the opposite of perfectly manicured glamour is apparently not unfiltered realism.

I also found myself wanting to defend them. Here are some of their similarities and why I think we should cut them a break:

1) They deal with a lot of criticism.

My mom always said that if I had nothing nice to say, I should keep my mouth shut. From time to time everyone finds themselves being judgmental, but being mean for the sake of being mean is really mean. Criticizing someone’s body falls into that category of unkind, especially if that person is pregnant.

As far as I’m aware, neither Kim nor Lena has done anything illegal, unethical or immoral. These are two people just being themselves and doing their jobs. If they’re not your cup of tea, tune them out. If either of them shows up at your door screaming “WHY ARE YOU IGNORING ME?” then go ahead and give a little constructive criticism.

2) They were controversially on the cover of Vogue.

I’m more of a Vanity Fair girl myself, but a highly regarded publication embracing women who don’t fit the mold to a T is probably a good thing. From Lena’s body type to Kim’s interracial relationship, there are some positive messages here. I like the idea of children not having to give up their dreams because of who they love or what they look like.

3) They are dating musicians.

I am a huge fan of Kanye West. Don’t know much about Lena Dunham’s boyfriend, but he’s probably awesome too.

4) They are self-made.

Kim Kardashian and Lena Dunham represent, at least to a degree, the American Dream: wanting to become something and then achieving it to a level of astronomical success.

What they chose to become or how they were able to achieve it is not my problem. Chris Rock said about gay men in the military: “if they want to fight, let ‘em fight, cause I ain’t fightin!” If Kim Kardashian wants to spend her time filming commercials for weight-loss pills, and Lena Dunham is willing to portray awkward sex scenes, let them… Because I’m not gonna.

5) They star in TV shows.

I know, I know, “it’s not TV, its HBO,” but just go with me here for argument’s sake.

6) They’ve both shared the spotlight with their clique.

I’ve always suspected that Kim Kardashian is a nice person. This was based on very few data points, the most salient being that she shared the spotlight with her family and didn’t seem to resent them rising to fame alongside her.

Lena’s own family starred in her film Tiny Furniture, and she cast her childhood friend Jemima Kirke in GIRLS. She seems like a real cheerleader for her friends and castmates.

7) They are just doing their jobs.

Aren’t we all? Being mad at Lena Dunham for writing something potentially controversial or Kim Kardashian for overexposing herself is like being mad at the Panera salesman that your sandwich costs seven dollars more than it should.

8) They are provocative.

Well, duh.

9) They represent truths about society and ourselves, whether we like it or not.

Kim Kardashian’s fame is a symptom, not the cause, of the rise of consumerism and self-promotion in society. She may be capitalizing on it, but that’s her prerogative.

In contrast, Lena Dunham is criticized for her lack of fabrication. Instead of being glossy and aspirational, GIRLS portrays things that are real and uncomfortable in our own lives (imperfect bodies, dysfunctional relationships, romantic and professional missteps). She certainly didn’t invent humans being human.

Kim and Lena represent things that make some people uncomfortable and upset, but exist whether you like it or not. If a market exists, someone is going to address it.

10) They are both huge fans of Man Repeller.

Speculative, but possible.

For the record: I watch GIRLS but not Keeping Up with the Kardashians; however, I proudly follow Scott Disick on Instagram.

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  • Vaguely Curious

    These are interesting similarities that I wouldn’t have noticed had you not pointed them out. I don’t understand the need to bash celebrities who aren’t our favorites. Just like you’re not friends with every single girl at your school or place of work, you don’t have to like every celebrity out there. But that doesn’t mean you have to bash anyone! We don’t need any more negativity in this world… thanks for posting!

  • Aubrey Green

    I really loved this. I don’t watch Girls, have watched Keeping Up with the Kardashians. I personally don’t have a problem with either of these women. I find it odd that people follow Kim on instagram, yet make rude and nasty comments; that’s bizarre behavior in my opinion – why follow her in the first place. The level of rudeness our society has is frankly disgusting.

    • Caroline

      sadly when you can hide behind the veil of social media, people seem willing to say anything.

  • V from The Drastically Blog

    I once had the pleasure of walking side by side with Mr. Disick in NY, then helped some fans who ambushed him take a photo with him. He obliged. He seemed very normal and wasn’t wearing a suit. A lot of the stuff you see on the Kardashian show is fake. I have also warmed up to “Girls.”

  • For the record I am a not KK #1 fan but I do not understand why people hate her so much, like you said she is not knocking on my door asking me to pay attention to her. I just don’t care… If more people reacted that way maybe the Kardashians wouldn’t be so famous, just saying.

  • iren

    well said

  • lavieenliz

    haha this is so good!!

    giveaway on my blog!

  • In a very bizarre way, they are also making these magazines sound more relevant to non fashion lovers. A girl being just a girl talking about girl things, yet she is not accepted because she doesn’t fit the “girl” mold. Life is complicated. Ain’t it.

  • Gizelle

    Ya one is intellectual the other one…not so much!

    • Lua Jane

      Neither is intellectual. In fact Kim is far more likeable. At least she is easy on the eye. And well all those Max Mara coats fix her fashion credentials.
      Lena is obnoxious and iritating, and capitalizing on it. PPl sham her on weight, but that’s least of jer issues. Plenty chubby people are adorable, just like plenty stick thin ones. She is plainly unlikeable. Yes kardashian made sex tape..ok, that’s in poor taste, as can be, but Lena strips down, and has TV sex any time she can, and that’s supposed to be art?
      Again in such situations, Kardashian is far more easy on the eye 😀

      • uhhuhhoney

        …just wondering what your definition of intellectual is. It’d be hard to create, write, and direct a TV series without some intellect, no?

        And Kim is more likable because “at least she’s easy on the eye?” Okaaay… No offense to Kim K lovers but there doesn’t seem to be much going on up there if you know what I mean. She desperately tries and wants to appear cultured, but eh. It’s not convincing.

        • Lua Jane

          My definition of intellectual is someone who observes and perceives society, life and themselves in a unique and original way. But, excuse me, I do not see that in Dunham. Yes, she creates, writes and acts, but that doesn’t mean she is doing any of it well. Just my opinion.
          I am not a Kim K fan either. I havent seen one single episode of what she does, all I know is girl is got a pretty face and good body, and is everpresent, just like Dunham is. And I would by no means say she is smart. But neither is Dunham. All troubles and insecurities she writes and presents, were long ago written and told about by many female writters, TV hosts and others with much more inherent humor, witt and that innate grace, Dunham doesnt seem to have. Take Nora Ephron for example. ( Plus they got to keep their tops on while doing so.)
          I suppose Kardashian isnt fun, inventive or original. But she doesnt even try I guess.
          That is my point.

          • uhhuhhoney

            Hmm, well in my book (and I think you’ll find in most dictionaries) “intellectual” doesn’t necessarily correlate with uniqueness and originality.”

          • uhhuhhoney

            whoops. ignore the last quotation mark.

          • Ruby

            Wow you might be the problem with women today, i wanted to tell you. So judgemental! Okay so we get you don’t like the show Girls but if women supported each other and had each others backs, the world would be a very different place. And of course Lena is more of an intellect, she writes and produces her own show – very different than making a pornographic video.

          • Lua Jane

            I can tell all of you identify with Dunham, so it’s impossible to argue with you on a rational basis. As for woman supporting each other, and having each others backs, I couldn’t agree more. But Kardashian is a woman too, isn’t she?

          • TheRanta

            Ah, Lua. I’m sure your rationalist credentials are sitting right there on the table next to your dog-eared, marked up copies of The Republic and Critique of Pure Reason.

          • Lua Jane

            In fact I am to some extent acquainted with works of Kant and Plato, having earned law degree few years ago, and having phylosophy teacher for a mother. I do however not see any connection between that and work and persona of young Lena Dunham, you all seem to be enamoured with.

            Please, why so angry with someone who disagrees? 😀

          • TheRanta

            I’m not angry at all. I just think it’s interesting that you think you’re the only person here capable of a rational assessment of Lena Dunham’s strengths and weaknesses, when what you’re arguing is pure opinion, just like the pro-Lena folks. You don’t like the way Dunham tells stories. That’s fine. But your defensiveness about your dislike strikes me as less rational than emotional.

  • Gimme Dat

    Honestly……………. I was hoping this article wouldn’t be as big of a stretch as I anticipated it would be, given the title and the fact that I love this website so much, but, alas, it was. Lena Dunham is nothing like Kim Kardashian; she is a pioneer and a role model. At least I can take comfort in the fact that Lena Dunham didn’t write it, otherwise I’d really be disappointed.

    • Emma Wilde

      But surely it doesn’t directly state that the two ladies are alike, rather that they have several similarities relating their careers and behaviour in the public eye?

  • Ariel

    Lena Dunham is pure genius. You make valid points, but Kim K is not so relatable. Watching girls is like having every insecurity and uncomfortable situation from your 20s comically displayed on a screen.

  • Arianna

    And now, Contributing Writer, you should write an article titled “The Crucial Disparities between Lena Dunham and Kim Kardashian”. I am sure the list would be tenfold.

  • lizann

    why has it not been mentioned anywhere that kim became famous due to her XXX rated video. as a mother of teenage girls, that is a sad definition of “self made” and a poor example of a woman becoming successful.

    i thought you would somehow justify her actions and compare it to anna nicole smith or marilyn kind of exploitation to their gain (?) but to not even mention it makes it seem a valid way to become successful and wealthy and then it can all just be forgotten and overlooked and then she can be compared to lena dunham? for real liandra?

    • Jordan

      Lena’s show portrays her naked and having sex far more often and to a much wider audience than Kim’s sex tape. Actually, Lena’s character is basically degraded by her sexual partner/”boyfriend” for the entire first season at least.

  • pamb

    Whether or not you like GIRLS, Lena creates, writes, produces and stars in that show. Kim Kardashian creates nothing except paparazzi attention. Lena wants to create and say something, Kim wants to wear pretty clothes and have have people take pictures of her. The only thing they have in common is that they both provoke strong reactions. Kim Kardashian just posted pictures she took from Google on her Instagram account as if she took them. Can you see Lena doing that?

  • sdsds


    • Leandra Medine


  • Fan Club Juventus

    See more on tattoos 2014

  • I am a huuuge fan of Girls but it is just to doing it for me this season. I forced myself to watch five episodes before I gave up. I think last season was amazing and this season is really lacking. Anyone else feel this way or am I completely alone?

  • sgdgfg

    this is super off base, they are literally nothing alike.

  • Farah

    Capitalizing on a sex tape isn’t unethical or immoral? And they’re both self made? Kim Kardashian comes from a really wealthy family ( her father was a HUGE entertainment lawyer/ one of Oj’s lawyers) and Lena Dunham’s parents are acclaimed artists. It’s the majority of the reason why people think they’re entitled narcissists.. maybe that’s a similarity that should have been mentioned.

    • Emma Wilde

      Your point on self-made is valid, if that really is the case. However, is making money on a sex tape unethical or immoral? Why should it be? If all parties on the tape are willing and aware that a tape s being made, and there is an audience who are willing to watch + make a fuss of it, then why is it wrong? Personally I have followed neither Girls, nor Kim nor watched “the tape” (nor am I informed about any of the three at all), but it strikes me as odd that everyone gives Kim so much shit about her tape, when the tape / she is only famous because it all apparently has a huge audience amongst us. I think we ought to criticise the market that she represents, rather than her as a single person – as long as there is a market for it, there will always be another Kim. Also, she really hasn’t gone down to anyone’s doorstep demanding for their attention, nor is anyone forced to pay attention to her. Don’t buy or react to the KK cover of Vogue etc.- that’s the most effective way to diminish the enormous media value she has, if you don’t like it.

  • AKR

    Lena Dunham is a serious artist. She’s a feminist. She’s incredibly prolific both as a writer and filmmaker, and she’s articulate about her creative vision. She’s inspiring to other artists. Kim K probably doesn’t deserve all the hate she gets, but becoming famous from a sex tape and staying famous because she’s hot/ stylish isn’t the same thing as having something to say. While Kim is busy being, Lena is busy doing, and that makes a huge difference in the kind of role models they are.

    • mikaela

      ya done said it sis

  • Eve

    I like this post, with all it’s points made. Kim Kardashian and Lena Dunham may not be “strictly” awesome, but they contribute to the world as it is now. I grew up in the 90s. I can only imagine what it would be like growing up in the 2010s… And yes, every person who would have to say the words, “I’m the child of the 10s” is someone I feel actually sorry for, but that’s OK, because by the time that happens, they would have already bought their first flying scooter that stops the aging process by ten years. And I would be 40. *sigh*

  • less is more

    i’m still under construction because of this kimkan-vogue-cover.

  • Hannah B.

    Do you honestly believe that Kim Kardashian was featured on the cover of Vogue because of her interracial relationship?

    • Bria

      That’s not what she said at all. Can you read?

  • This is great – while I found Kim on the cover of Vogue to be preposterous, these are totally valid points. We are all human – I think that’s easy to forget about celebs. Anything that gets us to accept others (and ourselves) more is always a good thing. Thanks for your thoughtful comparisons Sophie!

  • Anna Malcolm

    Comparing and contrasting Lena Dunham to Kim Kardashian could have led to a really funny article. This was dry and boring; it read like a homework assignment. Engage us and entertain us please!!

  • marie a

    Umm Kim’s cover on vogue was not controversial because it was representing an interracial relationship… hopefully, we are for the most part much past that!
    It was controversial because it was asked for, perhaps even paid for depending on the way you look at (not outright of course, but because Kanye made a few comments which made it a bigger deal than it would have been = money).

    You say yourself, Lena represents a lack of fabrication which I think is much more valuable than the unattainable lifestyle Kim represents. I don’t think Kim is a bad person because she is capitalizing on a certain market. However, I do think that the market she is feeding deserves a lot of criticism. And I am SURE that there are more valuable ways to spend our time and energy than lobbying to protect Kim Kardashian’s feelings.

  • Jmw

    asleep after #1.

  • Larissa Gargaro

    Great. But I would also add:
    -Both of them have big-ass asses;
    -Both of them are famous for having those big-ass asses;
    -We love them both for being famous for having those big-ass asses. #embracerealbeautyakabigassassesmadeoutofdoritos

    • Emma Wilde


  • Francesca Martin

    Truth. I love this article, they both own exactly what they are. It’s not their fault others follow and enjoy them. X

  • Jane

    The similarities are interesting. I would not have thought of them myself. This post is very insightful.

  • Repelled man

    >Kim kardashian
    >self made

  • bb

    Self made? Are you kidding?

  • I really like both of them. Being not so thin myself I’m really glad people like Kim and Lena manage to achieve something in a world filled with thin people as well.

    When people critise Kim they have to remind themselves that society made her famous and they are part of that society I totally agree that if you don’t have anything nice to say, you should keep your mouth shut.

  • Catherine Bohner

    Love 7 and 9.

  • Jane

    I think quite a few of KimK’s actions have been immoral…

  • Sha Glad

    I liked the article, I agree with certain points you expose. The most
    interesting part for me was reading de comments below. I was gladly surprised
    that even though some people didn’t agree with you; most of them politely
    explained their point of view and didn’t summed up their opinion to a dramatic
    backlash where 80 out 0f 100 were “whore” and all those horrible words we use
    to denigrate a woman in comparison to other sites I like reading. Faith in
    humanity restored.

  • Cherryblossomgirl08

    Both came from families that helped them achieve stardom. That’s probably the most similar thing between them–the commonalities you outline are pretty superficial. Lena Dunham wrote and directed and made something and put it out into the world. Great click-bait, though.

  • crazyloverblue

    #9 is the only one worth mentioning . Many people get upset about reality TV and Trump but they are reflections of parts of our society. I’m not saying that embrace should continue but it’s apparent at this time.

  • Amy

    Not anything alike. Kim is not self made she’s had it ALL given to her she just wears things or whatever! I love that Lena pushes boundaries in the sense that’s she doesn’t think like every other American bimbo…she actually thinks…and reacts with an opinion + some people think that’s awkward…

  • JennyQ

    Um how are they self made. They were both born into elite families that have them a huge head start and connections that most people would never dream of having access to. Yes they work for their money but it’s not the same thing as being self made. They were born with silver spoons in their mouths. Shame.

    • Ciccollina

      Thank you, so glad I’m not the only person that balked at this.

  • Ciccollina

    I would take serious issue with the claim that either of these women are self-made. Kim had a very wealthy and famous daddy and Lena has parents that are artists. I totally get that not ever daughter of a rich guy or an artistic mum is delivered instant success – in fact I believe that Kim has done an awful lot with her privileges, despite my disinterest in her. Lena is obviously amazingly brainy too, and a really great writer. But I worry that it’s becoming more and more prevalent these days to dismiss the obvious advantages of having a foot in the door. I would be much more accepting of the whole “Kim is a smart businesswoman” argument if she had actually started anything herself.

    I also think that you’re absolutely right in that people don’t deserve all the criticism they get, but to be honest, Kim Kardashian is making a lot of claims, putting a lot out there, which needs to be addressed. If you are going to get involved in serious conversations about feminism and so on then you need to be an informed and active member of that community. Being a narcissist or an accidental symbol for her generation doesn’t really count as active in any way.

  • Kelly Marjorie

    Ugh I could, and do, live without both of them in my life. I am not a fan of either, but JFC how is that headline in the second image ok?! “she’s *shovelling* salad into her mouth, she must be on a diet” – and I do live under a rock, but know that KK would be getting it just as bad from the press as well. Why are people allowing the tabloids to use headlines like that? Can we all just agree that no matter how much you don’t like a person, we shouldn’t be condoning that?!