Lena Dunham's 'Lenny' has finally arrived and it's so, so good
We’ve been on pins and needles for Lenny—Lena Dunham and her Girls‘ EP Jenni Konner’s weekly e-mail newsletter—to get the heck in our mailboxes since the project was announced in mid-July. Promising to be a publication in which “There’s no such thing as too much information,” Lena told Buzzfeed this summer that the plan was to balance pop culture with the political with regards to content, or, in other words, create a publication for an “army of like-minded intellectually curious women and the people who love them, who want to bring change but also want to know, like, where to buy the best tube top for summer that isn’t going to cost your entire paycheck.”
Though we always knew the newsletter was scheduled to drop this fall, Dunham and Konner have been kind to us this summer, giving us in-advance content like this essential interview about Sandra Bland, Jenni Konner’s frank discussion with her mother about life before Roe v. Wade, Lena Dunham’s first published short story in the Lenny fiction issue, and a sneak-peek at the inaugural issue interview with Hillary Clinton, in which Lena and Hillary discuss happiness.
And now September 29th is finally here and the first issue has hit our mailboxes and we are big-time in love. (Note: If you use Gmail, it’s possible that Lenny is being sifted into the “Promotions” section of your inbox, b/c it’s going out to so many email addresses like the Living Social and Sephora Beauty VIB e-mails that also end up in that corner of our inboxes. So if you subscribed and it’s not coming up in your Primary tab, just do a search for Lenny, that’s what we did and the rest was awesome history.)
The first issue absolutely lives up to its summer-long hype. In their intro letter, Lena and Jenni (or, as you’ve probably put together by now, “Lenny”) explain that the newsletter was inspired by Lena’s book tour last year, and her convos with her fans:
“We talked about gender and race and religion, local and national politics, and how to maintain the perfect shade of sherbet-orange hair… You told us about the kind of life you want: connected, empowered, inspired, and f—ing funny. We heard you.”
So Lena and Jenni decided they “…wanted to create a space where new voices were safe to speak loudly about issues they care about. We want those voices to inspire you, envelop you, and even anger you. Mostly, we want a snark-free place for feminists to get information: on how to vote, eat, dress, f—, and live better.”
The first issue one hundred percent makes good on its creators’ aims. It starts off with Lena’s interview with Hillary, in which the two discuss how Hillary made the transition from “Goldwater girl” to “staunch democrat,” Hil’s first out-of-college job as a salmon “slimer” in Alaska, her initial nerves about marrying force-of-nature Bill Clinton, her positions on college debt, feminism, and police brutality, and the importance of shoulders. Yup, shoulders.
The letter moves on to introduce the series “Out of Print,” in which under-recognized women writers and artists from the past are reintroduced to Lenny readers. The series starts with a profile written by Lenny editor-at-large Doreen St. Felix on June Jordan, an architect who worked with the legendary Buckminster Fuller on a plan to reinvent and reinvigorate Harlem, and an author, poet, and cultural critic who published 27 books within her lifetime.
The June Jordan profile is followed by an essay in which contributor Kira Garcia explained why it was important for her to have a queer wedding. Then there’s “Rumors About My Body,” a recurring feature written by Lenny editor in chief Jessica Grose in conjunction with Planned Parenthood. The first installment? What does and does not constitute a “weird period.” Lastly, we have associate editor Laia Garcia’s “Tracing a Trend” in which Garcia gets to the bottom of the “denim explosion” of the last few years.
The writing is smart and accessible, the topics are all thoughtfully chosen, and the stories tackle issues we’re genuinely curious about—even some issues we didn’t KNOW we were curious about until we read the letter. We love Lenny and now that we’ve gobbled up the first issue, we absolutely can’t wait for the second.
If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to Lenny here.
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