Lena Dunham apologises to American footballer after being widely criticised

The actress and writer made a number of comments about meeting New York Giants player Odell Beckham Jr earlier this year

Lena Dunham, Odell Beckham Jr

Lena Dunham arrives at The Met Gala, where she would be seated beside Odell Beckham Jr. [Charles Sykes / AP/Press Association Images]

Award-winning writer and actress Lena Dunham has written an apology to an American football player after being called out on social media for sexism and racial insensitivity.

On Friday, the Girls creator sent out on of her Lenny Letters emails in which she sat down for a conversation with comedian Amy Schumer. Their discussion covered a number of things, from Schumer’s audition for a role on Girls and her recent issues with comments made by a former staff writer on her sketch show Inside Amy Schumer, as well as gun control and texts from Jennifer Lawrence.

But when discussing the 2016 Met Gala in New York, remarks made by Dunham explaining what it was like to sit beside New York Giants player Odell Beckham Jr. sparked widespread and rampant criticism online.

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

“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 wasn’t 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.’”

On Twitter, the reaction was not positive, with many accusing Dunham of projecting her own sexualised thoughts onto Beckham Jr., whose reticence to engage in conversation could have been caused by many things.

First attributing her comments to her “sense of humour”, Dunham went on to apologise to Beckham Jr, in an Instagram post, saying sorry for her “narcissistic assumptions” about him without knowing “state of mind.” Citing her own insecurities, Dunham said she felt “terrible about it”, and acknowledging her error in ascribing “misogynistic thoughts to someone” she doesn’t know.


I owe Odell Beckham Jr an apology. 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. But I went ahead and projected these insecurities and made totally narcissistic assumptions about what he was thinking, then presented those assumptions as facts. I feel terrible about it. Because 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. Like, we have never met, I have no idea the kind of day he's having or what his truth is. But most importantly, I would never intentionally contribute to a long and often violent history of the over-sexualization of black male bodies- as well as false accusations by white women towards black men. 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. Much love and thanks, Lena

A photo posted by Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) on

But a new week brought with it fresh problems for Dunham, albeit linked back to a tweet she sent in 2011, which surfaced again on Twitter and has come in for a barrage of criticism itself:

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