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BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 11: Andrew Rannells and Lena Dunham arrives at the 72nd Annual Golden Globe Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 11, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
Steve Granitz—WireImage

Since her HBO show Girls premiered in 2012, Lena Dunham has been an icon for body positivity, proudly going nude and showing viewers a body type not often seen on TV.

But with Dunham’s fearlessness has come with a slew of body shamers who have criticized the 30-year-old actress about her weight. And though Dunham has often clapped back at them herself, her Girls costar Andrew Rannells is publicly standing by her side.

The actor, who plays Hannah Horvath’s gay best friend Elijah on the show, made a visit to Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen on Thursday, where he defended Dunham and called out her female critics, saying she does “take a lock of flack” but he’s “not exactly sure why that is.”

“She never set out to say that she was supposed to represent every young women in America,” Rannells, 38, said. “She was just representing this character that she created. So I’m confused by a lot of the criticism.”

He went on to question other women who throw jabs at her looks. “Mostly, if I’m going to be honest, I’m mostly confused by other women who criticize her physical appearance,” he said.” That to me I find the most— I get very defensive on her behalf.”

“She has such grace and such a great sense of humor about all of that, that she sort of lets it all roll,” Rannells added. “But I get defensive about it. That I’m like, how can you possibly be critical of that?”

Dunham appeared on the February cover of Glamour free of Photoshop. In an Instagram post on Jan. 3, she said she never had issues with her own body, but society always has.

“Throughout my teens I was told, in no uncertain terms, that I was f—— funny looking,” she wrote. “Potbelly, rabbit teeth, knock knees — I could never seem to get it right and it haunted my every move. I posed as the sassy confident one, secretly horrified and hurt by careless comments and hostility.”

“Let’s get something straight: I didn’t hate what I looked like — I hated the culture that was telling me to hate it,” she continued.

Dunham also spoke about being praised for showing her body on Girls — but said she was praised for the wrong reasons. “When my career started, some people celebrated my look but always through the lens of, ‘Isn’t she brave? Isn’t it such a bold move to show THAT body on TV?’ ” she wrote.

The actress spoke about receiving “violent threats” and “sickening insults” throughout her acting career, but saw her appearance on Glamour’s cover as an important turning point.

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