Lena Dunham’s Short Hair and Topless Instagram Is an Homage to Kathy Acker and Sinead O’Conner

A close reading of Lena Dunham’s new haircut shows that it’s an homage to a few of her most enduring influences.

Lena Dunham. Photo by Steve Eichner/WWD.

What’s Lena Dunham to do now that Girls is in the books? Maybe her latest Instagram posts—in which she’s topless, naturally, and sporting her new short hair (done by hairstylist Rheanne White and, not, as some guessed, by herself at home)—are projecting her aspirations. Free from having to worry about whatever repercussions her own personal appearance may have for her HBO alter-ego Hannah Horvath, Dunham is definitely experimenting with her look and apparently paying homage to some of her professional heroes along the way.

After captioning the post “really did wake up like this,” she affixed it with the hashtags #sinead, #cranberries, #kathyacker, and #my6thgradehistoryteacherlaurie. Assuming the Cranberries hashtag is a reference to the ’90s Irish band’s perpetually short-haired singer Dolores O’Riordan (and with no way of figuring out exactly who Dunham’s sixth grade history teacher is), it seems to be a collection of badass, shortly-shorn women that Dunham appears to be specifically channeling with her new look, and might very well channel in the next phase of her career.

Though, it’s Kathy Acker, the noted post-punk poet and sex-positive feminist academic, who may be the least known (sixth grade history teachers aside), but the one Dunham has apparently been dying to pattern her look after for a long time. It’s the not first time she’s made reference to the writer as a style icon on social media before.

“Dressin like Kathy Acker, feelin like Kathy cartoon ACK,” she Tweeted in 2015.

She also posted a portrait of Acker on Instagram earlier this year.

Dunham also noted her appreciation of Acker’s work when she criticized Kanye West for using a nude wax sculpture of her close friend Taylor Swift in that infamous “Famous” video. “I live for the nude rabble rousing of Carolee Schneemann and Hannah Wilke, for Kathy Acker’s arty porn, for Paul McCarthy’s gnomes with butt plugs and Vito Acconci masturbating under the gallery floor and Carrie Mae Weems shedding a blinding light on the pleasures and terrors of black womanhood,” she wrote on Facebook at the time, before comparing West’s video to an irredeemable snuff film.

Anyway, the point is, Dunham is a longtime Acker fan, and if you’re wondering why she’s shorn hair so short, well then, there you go.

Of course, Acker is more than just Lena Dunham’s style icon. She was a noted feminist writer of the ’80s and ’70s who did everything from authoring pioneering feminist novels to interviewing the Spice Girls before succumbing to cancer in 1997. If this sounds somewhat familiar to the career Dunham is trying to carve out with a much higher level of superficial fame attached, well, you wouldn’t be wrong.

Or maybe we’re reading too much into that particular hashtag, and what Dunham really wants to do is tear up a picture of the Pope on Saturday Night Live like Sinead O’Connor. Or maybe she wants to teach sixth grade history. Who knows.

Related: Katy Perry and Lena Dunham Had A Girls’ Night in Los Angeles

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