12/27/2013 01:48 pm ET

How Lena Dunham Learned To Stop Apologizing For Taking Up Space

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Whether it's taking up a seat and a half on a subway car, draping an arm across the chair beside them or putting their feet up on a desk at work, men often seem to take up more space than woman do. But one (fictional) woman who never seems to be afraid of owning her personal space is "Girls" protagonist Hannah Horvath, played by show creator Lena Dunham.

Dunham recently sat down with Salon writer Alice Driver to discuss the upcoming premiere of "Girls" season three. During the interview, Driver asked Dunham what about her upbringing made the actress feel empowered to take up space in a way that many women often do not, a subject that has already been explored this year by slam poet Lily Myers and the Tumblr "Men Taking Up Too Much Space On The Train."

Dunham explained that it was her changing teenage body that forced her to feel unapologetic when taking up space. She told Driver:

You know, it’s funny, I think part of inquiry into that kind of stuff started when I entered high school and went from being a really tiny kid to a chubby teenager and had to figure out how to handle that shift in my body. It’s interesting because I was looking at that transition and trying to figure out how to deal with my new body. It’s funny, I don’t know, maybe it’s a selfishness thing, but when there are only a few chairs or something, I’m never the person who is like, “I’ll stand.” I always sit down, because I prize comfort highly.

She also spoke about this spatial sensibility as it informs the way that she plays the character of Hannah in "Girls." "[Hannah] tries to be really aware of social aspects but fails," Dunham told Salon. "In that space between trying and succeeding is the comedy of using your body too broadly or knocking into things. I’m also really spatially unaware as a person."

Thank goodness for that. We can't imagine the beloved, often unlikeable, wholly frustrating Hannah Horvath any other way.

Head over to Salon to read Driver's full interview with Dunham.



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