Even if you don't normally read "Glamour" magazine, you should pay attention to the February cover. Lena Dunham is featured along with her "Girls" costars, but the actresses aren't the ones garnering all of the attention. The real star of the cover is Dunham's cellulite.
No, this isn't an editing mistake. She specifically asked the magazine not to airbrush it out.
Surprised? I was too. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that there's more to this body confidence move than just the empowerment angle.
In fact, I believe we can take the following lessons from Dunham's savvy decision and apply them to our own lives.
Lesson 1: Think outside of the system.
The temptation to continue to do what's been done before is overwhelming. You'll rarely, if ever, be invited to break from tradition because tradition is safe. But the leaders who aren't afraid to think differently are the ones we end up following.
Dunham's choice to debunk the airbrush norm lets everyone know that she's not afraid to rebel against society's expectations. It's decisions like that one that shift society and inspire others to come up with ideas that transform our lives. Although it's hard to step off the tried and true path, going against the grain has the potential to take us to heights we may never reach otherwise.
Lesson 2: Embrace authenticity.
Whether due to genetics or the magic of Photoshop, most cover models are cellulite-free. By showing her body just as it is, Dunham is saying she loves who she is and she's not going to try to be someone else. Her move to bare her real body reads as undeniably authentic, which is something that all leaders should aspire to be.
You may need to muster some courage to display who you really are. But in the end you'll attract others who support the real you. And when people care about the real you, they'll be that much more likely to invest in your mission or business.
Lesson 3: Stop caring what others think.
The fastest way to kill your leadership potential is by caring what others think. Although some people will certainly react negatively to her cover, Dunham didn't let that stop her from sticking to her guns. After all, if she focused on the naysayers, she'd never take risks like the ones that made her successful in the first place.
Being able to demonstrate the confidence to shrug off the concerns of others is a powerful characteristic of great leaders. If you want to cultivate greatness, follow Dunham's lead and stop caring about the opinions of others.
Lesson 4: Don't compare yourself to others.
The cover photo shows Dunham next to three of her "Girls" costars. All of them appear to be smaller than her, all of them closer to fitting the very narrow view of beauty as defined by our modern society. Even though Dunham could have let that fact deter her from making the decision to show her cellulite, she chose not to compare herself to others.
Comparing yourself to others is a great way to lose sight of your own power. Want to stand out? Make sure that you're making decisions that are yours, not ones you think your competitors or role models would make.
Lesson 5: Emphasize the best parts of yourself.
Cellulite and all, Dunham shines on the cover, and the confidence that has helped her take Hollywood by storm comes through clearly. True leadership is born from maximizing what you bring to the table. As a leader, there's no room to hide, especially at the top or under a microscope. When you emphasize the best parts of yourself, like Dunham did, you'll inspire others to do the same.
I say bravo to Dunham. She continues to debunk our traditional views of beauty and is charting a path for others to do the same. In my mind, this is the kind of leadership that is needed in our society.