Here’s What Lena Dunham’s Tattoos Really Mean

Since the debut of her star-making vehicle “Girls” in 2012, actress/writer/director ta has made waves again and again (via CNN.) When the HBO show first began airing, many were taken aback at the show’s frank and casual use of nudity. Many also couldn’t help but notice that Dunham had many, many tattoos covering her body.

Dunham has 27 tattoos, in wide ranging parts of her body, all different shapes and designs, and each of them with a different significance (via Body Art Guru). But for Dunham, the tattoos are also a way for her to reclaim a body she doesn’t always feel comfortable in. “I think it gives me a sense of control and ownership of a body that’s often beyond my control,” the creator wrote as part of an Instagram story, depicting a 2017 tattoo of a rose on her upper thigh (via Refinery29).

Despite that, Dunham doesn’t think her interior matches the tattoos on her exterior. “I sort of tend to equate tattoos with prisoners, punks or people with a high level of self-confidence. I don’t necessarily have a covered-in-tattoos personality,” Dunham told HuffPost in 2012.

The meaning behind some of her most famous tattoos

The tattoo that Dunham probably has discussed most is the tattoo on her arm of Ferdinand the Bull, from the children’s book “Ferdinand the Bull.”

“I have tattoos from children’s books all over my arms and torso,” she told The New York Times in 2012. “The biggest one is of Ferdinand the bull, which Elliott Smith also had, but his was a different page. What a good message that book has! Just be yourself and don’t gore anyone with your horns if you don’t feel like it.”

Other tattoos that Dunham has accumulated over the years include a teardrop on her left index finger, a cartoon of the character Eloise (Dunham’s first-ever tattoo), an ornamental cross on her right wrist, two houses on her back, and a quote that reads “To the cross, to the prison, to the grave, to sky,” on her thigh, amongst others (via Body Art Guru).

Dunham’s most recent significant tattoo is likely the one she got on the back of her neck in 2019 that reads “SICK,” spelled out with a drawing of rope. “Sometimes the thing you’re most scared of being called is the best thing you can call yourself,” Dunham wrote in her Instagram post, celebrating the new tattoo (via Women’s Health).

So does Dunham have any advice for fellow tattoo-seekers? Maybe avoid getting tattoos from drunk guys, as a “drunk guy” did the one tattoo she regrets — an illustration of a children’s book (via People).

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