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Dunham sibling TMI rivalry: Lena: I had my uterus removed and here’s a photo of it! Cyrus Grace: Well! I had my BREASTS removed!

August 22, 2019
Photo: People

Nothing like a TMI contest between the scribbling Dunham siblings.

Lena Dunham in the Cut, November 2018:

One morning, about three weeks after we’d first met, Lena Dunham sent me ten text messages in a row. She was in the hospital, recovering from a procedure to remove her right ovary, “which was encased in scar tissue & fibrosis, attached to my bowel and pressing on nerves that made it kinda hard to walk/pee/vamp,” as she’d later explain on Instagram. She sent me a post-op photo of herself in bed, a red bracelet that read NO BENZODIAZEPINES dangling from her wrist, hospital gown hiked up, her medical mesh panties out….

There were photos of all the nurses and doctors and surgeons. A close-up of her pubic area, showing off tattoos and hair and the place where the doctor had drawn incision marks in blue ink….

So by the time we were together again in person and she asked if I wanted to see a photo of her uterus, I barely hesitated. I’d seen so much of her, what was an organ?

She turned her screen toward me and there it was: the uterus she’d had removed during a hysterectomy last year. A bloody, swollen crimson orb resting casually on industrial-blue surgical cloth. It was smaller than I’d expect a uterus to be — more alive-seeming, too, as if it could be plopped right back in and resume its function. “The doctor said he’d never seen a uterus as misshapen as mine,” she said proudly. I leaned in so I could see her Fallopian tubes better. They looked like little outstretched arms….

Okey-doke! But Lena has a sibling–and siblings usually mean sibling rivalry. So….

Cyrus Grace Dunham in the New Yorker, August 2019:

What did I really want? I wanted thicker skin and better boundaries. I wanted bigger hands. I wanted a flat chest and a new car. I wanted to pull my shirt over my head by the collar, the way men in movies did….

In late November, it was still warm enough to sit outside on the balcony at night. I wore shorts, no shirt, put my legs up on the railing. If I didn’t look down, I could summon the sensation of flatness where my chest was. If I couldn’t ignore my breasts, I pushed the extra flesh toward the center of my torso, or to the sides, or over my ribs. I pretended it was butter that I was spreading thin….

In the operating room, the nurses laid me down on a crucifix-shaped table: arms outstretched, legs spread. One friend who had already been through top surgery had warned me it would feel sacrificial….

Fortunately there aren’t any more Dunham siblings–because God only knows what Dunham TMI would be be next.

Posted by Charlotte Allen

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