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Lena Dunham Pens Essay on Marriage and Jack Antonoff

Lena Dunham Emmys
Michael Buckner, Getty Images

Lena Dunham has built a career on stories that feel intimate and highly authentic — both in her essays and in the fictional world of Girls — and she did it again today (July 10), sharing her evolving feelings on marriage in The New Yorker.

In an piece titled “The Bride In Her Head,” Dunham chronicles her shifting relationship to all things wedding-related: The fake bridal gown she wore to tatters as a kid, her mother’s mystifying lack of interest in a fancy reception, and helping to plan her babysitter’s nuptials in junior high. The writer says that in high school, she revised her fantasy to fit her self-identified “weird girl” image, now picturing herself in a “shredded lace gown and combat boots” in a quirky reception where “Tofurky would be served. The White Stripes would play, followed by Sade.”

A few years later she decided she was against the entire institution of marriage, and besides, “who wants to make out in front of your parents?” She shrugged off a warning that she’d change her mind someday…and then she met her boyfriend, Jack Antonoff of fun. and Bleachers.

But as the couple got serious, they agreed that they weren’t okay with tying the knot if other Americans couldn’t. As Lena hilariously puts it, she and Jack “wouldn’t even consider marrying until every American had the same right. And I said it proudly whenever I had the chance, with the grandiosity and intimations of sacrifice you hear from certain lesser vegans.”

The couple supports LGBTQ rights through words and action, with Lena writing about the issue and Jack co-founding The Ally Coalition charity. “But sometimes,” Lena writes, “in a moment of deep gratitude, I would mutter these words to Jack, unbidden: “Marry me.” They became a kind of code, a way of giving a million other kinds of loving thanks. I wasn’t serious, I told myself. It was like when I tell my dog to ‘get a job.’”

Then the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling came down on June 26, and suddenly every single person in the world told Lena they were excited for her impending marriage. “I informed [Jack] that he “better not make a fool out of me,” followed by a quick “LOL,” and then, “But seriously. I’m going to look like a real idiot if we just sit here like losers and keep dating.” Then I tweeted, “@jackantonoff get on it, yo,” followed by my immediate and all-consuming regret.”

Lena says Jack seemed flummoxed by her mental somersaults, “partly, I suppose, it’s because, as a man, his entire life has not been shaped by a desire for, or a rejection of, a fluffy white dress.” She then describes the moment when, at someone else’s wedding, the two of them came to a new agreement amid this new marriage-for-everyone reality. For now, that is: “I am not foolish enough to think I have made a final decision about marriage.”

Read the entire (excellent) essay over at the New Yorker.

Next: Malia Obama to Intern for Lena Dunham's 'Girls'

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