The story behind Lena Dunham’s storybook tattoos

Girls creator, writer and star Lena Dunham has some interesting tattoos on her body that feature so prominently on the HBO show that they’re practically their own character.

What are they, and why did she get them?

Best screen shot of her back tattoo from the show:

Better photo:

Her character Hannah talks about their meaning to her pseudo-boyfriend, and Lena says that that explanation is pretty accurate. Executive producer Judd Apatow suggested that she write it in because people would be curious. Lena told The Huffington Post:

I wrote that scene and it is pretty close. I don’t think I would have phrased it that way to myself at the time. At the time, it was like, “My friend Marina has tattoos, and I’m gonna get one.” I sometimes want to make a book of every tattoo I wanted to get before I actually got a tattoo, because there were so many awful ideas and concepts. But once I did it, it got totally addictive. I’d say I had a very active tattooing period from 17 to 21, and since then, I’ve gotten a few tiny things, but I haven’t been tattooed in a while.

Here character Hannah revealed that the tattoos are from children’s books (the one on her back is from Eloise) that she got in high school because she gained a lot of weight in a short amount of time and wanted to feel in control of her own body. She also talked about a tattoo of a snake-wrapped around the moon that the character’s friend Jess gave her with a safety pin.

Apparently the real life Lena does not have a snake-eating-the-moon tattoo, but she does have a tattoo on her body done by friend Jemima Kirke, who plays Jess. Jemima told Vanity Fair:

I have a handful of tattoos that I really want to put on people that I can’t find anyone to let me give them to. Lena let me do one of them, which is like a Yorkshire terrier on her ribcage.

About convincing Lena to tattoo a dog on a ribcage?

Oh, it was easy. It was so easy. Lena, to me, is the easiest person to shop for. Anything that I would buy for her, she would find it cool somehow. If there’s something that I am into that may be a little bit out there for some people, Lena will always be the person to meet me there. With the tattoo, it’s the same thing.

Lena doesn’t want any more “phatty” (her word) tattoos, but she is open for some more small tattoos:

I would. I’d like to get some more little doodads, but I think I’m done with the big giant ones. There’s not really any more real estate where I’d want like a whole phatty tattoo. I’ve kinda covered the areas that are amusing to me, and then, I’d have to expand to the stomach and more back? No one wants to see a tattoo on a stomach.

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