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Jemima Kirke talks confidence, nudity and raising her daughter to love her body

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Girls star Jemima Kirke is fast becoming a beacon for feminism in the entertainment circles.

In April, she spoke candidly about an abortion she had when she was a university student; in May she expressed the need for shame to be taken out of women's fitness and just this week she rocked up to the CFDA Fashion Awards in a brilliant red gown with unshaven armpits.

The 30-year-old is full of powerful statements and her most recent interview might be her best yet.

Speaking to Refinery29, Kirke shed light on how she's careful not to criticise her physical appearance when she's around her four-year-old daughter and why it's so important to promote body confidence.

"I think it’s important for women around children, whether you’re a mother or not, to never talk about not liking yourself."

"I think a lot of women see themselves like Mr. Potato Heads. Like, if they could take this part away, if they could eliminate this part, they would look better. They don’t see themselves as a package. They see themselves as pieces," continues Kirke.

"My mum used to say to me, 'I think you’re beautiful. I think you’re perfect. I just want you to be happy. That's such a mixed message, though...even though she was saying she wanted me to be happy, it still came off as bullying," she said.

Jemima Kirke with her Girls co-stars Zosia Mamet, Lena Dunham and Allison Williams in January

Jemima Kirke with her Girls co-stars Zosia Mamet, Lena Dunham and Allison Williams in January

She recalls going out to dinner with her parents and her mum asking for the bread be taken away. "She would say, 'Listen, you can have it if you want it. I just thought you didn't want it.'" At the time, Jemima says she was on a watermelon-only diet - "It worked, for five minutes" — and that it was not her mother's idea, but that she encouraged it.

"She knew I wanted to be thinner...and she was always on a diet herself," she adds. "I think she meant well. I just think she wasn’t equipped."

Kirke ensures she talks positively about food with her daughter, emphasising that 'good-for-you' and 'enjoyable' aren't mutually exclusive.

"You know what my daughter does now which is really cool? Whenever I come home she goes, 'Mum, I ate all my dinner!'"

"Then she’ll do things, like she’ll finish a puzzle, and be like, 'That’s 'cause I ate all my dinner.' So, now she’s gonna have the reverse. She’s gonna be eating a shit tonne."

Jemima bears her unshaved underarms at the CFDA Fashion Awards in New York last week

Jemima bears her unshaved underarms at the CFDA Fashion Awards in New York last week

She's also conscious of her opportunity to promote body confidence in Girls, which is written and directed by Lena Dunham, who Kirke has been friends with since high school.

"I got a text message yesterday from Lena saying, 'Do you mind showing ass this season?' I said, 'Well, I’ve shown my ass.' But, she was like, 'I mean, you’re gonna be f****** and I want to see the whole thrust action.'"

"I was tempted to say no, just because it’s not gonna be comfortable to do. But, I felt somewhat obligated as someone who’s on such a progressive show — as an artist, as a mother to a daughter — to show my body."

The hit television show has been praised for its realistic approach to on-screen nudity and sex, but that doesn't mean they haven't had their fair share of vitriolic comments.

"I hear a lot of men saying, 'Why do I have to see that?' I'm like, what do you mean, 'have to?' Like this is a punishment?"

"One thing I hate that they say about Lena is, 'She's so confident,'" Kirke adds. "That makes me really mad and it's really short-sighted, because I don’t think she’s confident. I think she’s brave. It's not that she's proud necessarily or showing off. It's that she's making an effort to fight the standard so that one day we'll stop calling nudity and self-love 'brave.' And, if people get mad because they see it as a big fuck-you, well then, they're fucking right. It is."

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