I Feel Pretty has been out a few weeks now, so I don’t feel like I’ll be spoiling much (not that I would be in general, it’s a fairly basic movie). Amy Schumer is a comedian I want to see evolve into a good comedian. I get that raunchy comedy is her thing, and by all means, you do you, girl. She steps away from that type of humor in I Feel Pretty to attempt some form of a chick flick. While it might appeal to the lady population, I think overall, the movie misses the mark.
In I Feel Pretty, Amy Schumer plays a woman named Renee who works for a makeup company and wants to work in their main office as their receptionist. She lacks the confidence to apply initially, but eventually she does apply for the position after “becoming beautiful.” Basically, Renee goes to SoulCycle, falls off a bike, thinks something magical happened to make her beautiful, and then has confidence (because that’s how we all become confident!). She then attacks life with the confidence of a thin, pretty, white woman, or how she perceives a thin, pretty, white woman would act. She dates. She encourages her friends to date. And then she hits her head again and then thinks she becomes not beautiful any more. More life things happen (not super important things) and then the movie ends with her giving a nice speech on how beautiful all this different women are. What an inspiration.
There are positive elements to the movie, so don’t only take my opinion into consideration. Truly, it wasn’t a bad movie, it just wasn’t my kind of chick flick or movie in general. There were funny moments, for sure, and I didn’t feel like I wanted to get up and leave mid-movie, though it did drag at times. The good moments were high quality and sent a positive message. However, me being the opinionated person that I am, I have a few lukewarm takes about the movie.
The general message of the movie is body positivity and self-love. We’re here for body positivity for men and women, which fortunately this movie does get at. After Renee hits her head and has a love interest, she brings him back to her place and things escalate. She encourages him to leave the lights on, and they have a brief dialogue addressing the comfort with their body image. I liked this because it showed that not just women worry about what their bodies look like (obviously, since there a many men doing curls for the girls). I think talking about our comfort level with our naked body is important, and it’s especially important that the media we consume also brings up those conversations. We’ve all seen intimate scenes where both people are super comfortable with their nakedness and can’t wait to get it on. From what I understand, real life isn’t actually like the movies when it comes to those moments (if I’m mistaken, please let me know).
The movie ends with Amy Schumer’s character realizing she just lacked confidence and is actually attractive. Unfortunately, confidence doesn’t just work like that. Many people go through physical changes that they may have worked for, but don’t necessarily have confidence after those changes. This isn’t an always or never statement, it’s a it depends on the person how they adapt their attitude with achieving a physical changed they worked towards. Something tells me that most people wouldn’t mentally be ready to just wake up one day looking exactly how they had hoped with major changes. Additionally, I’m not positive they would wake up with as much confidence as Renee suddenly possessed.
Also, confidence goes deeper than looks. I understand that a lot of how we see ourselves comes from how see our physical selves. In I Feel Pretty, I feel like all the confidence points are thrown in the basket of physical appearance, when in reality we are complex people who also gain confidence from our career, hobbies, friendships, and family. She works for a company she really likes (some Sephora ripoff) and she has some really good friends (who she’s rude AF to). Her confidence before hitting her head didn’t see to come from any of those things, which made her seem a little one-dimensional.
The confidence factor really does help this movie. The man Renee ends up dating in the movie is super attracted to her confidence and she ends up helping him be a little more confident. And other characters are impressed by the confidence Renee exhibits. She goes out with the attitude of always asking and assuming she’ll get a yes. I am in full support of shooting your shot when it comes to life because that’s how we find some really great opportunities. Renee does this during her “beautiful” time and she ends up just letting loose and having fun, another admirable piece of this movie.
There are moments with the confidence that are kind of awkward. For example, Renee walks by a construction site and hears one of the workers whistling (he’s whistling at another worker) and she acts indignant about it but low-key loves it. Ladies, how many of you actually enjoy getting catcalled? *crickets* Yeah, that’s what I thought. I cannot get behind something that assumes women who have poor self-esteem would feel good about being catcalled or sexualized.
Renee does keep some integrity during her time when she’s “beautiful” when she is alone with this hot rich dude (his character serves no purpose other than to be a generic, attractive white man). At the point when he makes a pass at her, she’s been dating the other dude for a minute and they’re going strong. While this might not seem like a really significant positive, I needed to give this movie positives where I could. Not cheating on your partner, a positive thing in my book!
She keeps that integrity only as it relates to the guy she’s dating and completely blows off her friends. She treats her friends like props and then when they can’t get into a club with her she ditches them. She essentially verbally craps on the way they dress and how they don’t go out to clubs. And the biggest issue of all this comes back to her caring about the male gaze. This may be the biggest issue with the movie is that a lot of it comes down to what guys think. Not a good central theme IMHO.
Renee assumes that men don’t want to date her because she isn’t beautiful. It could have nothing to do with the way she carries herself and treats those around her? For a lot of the movie I just wanted to grab her by her shoulders, shake her, and yell “STOP TRYING TO CHANGE YOURSELF FOR DUDES!” I get it, we all want to look attractive to some extent, but our whole life shouldn’t be wrapped up in how we look and who we’re dating. She has a career, that maybe she should have focused more on to realize she could become more than a receptionist.
When Renee becomes “beautiful” her perception of someone who is beautiful is narrow and exclusive. Pardon me, but last I checked women who aren’t white are beautiful also…yet she focuses on European beauty standards being what makes someone beautiful. I get it, you Google ‘beautiful woman’ and this is what you get:
While this may seem like a ridiculous point to make, I’m going to make it anyway. Beauty can be defined outside of European features. This may come as a shock, not all women are a size 2, 6 feet tall, pale, and blonde. If this truly was the only way to be considered beautiful, then I guess a lot of us aren’t beautiful (even Beyoncé…gasp). Why make a movie about positive body image when that positive body image is only for white women? Oh right, because we have to worry about them first and not worry about all women equally and equitably simultaneously…
The reason I point out the major flaw in what Renee perceives to be beautiful excludes many women in this country. It’s hard to get over the fact that a central theme of this movie focuses on beauty, but it’s very white. I know, I should have expected to go to a movie with a white woman lead and see a lot of white people (there actually were people of color in the movie, but it’s not like Renee was trying to become a Naomi Campbell). My issue is less with the whiteness of the cast and more with how whiteness equals beauty. We already know that in all the other images we see in magazines and on runways that whiteness as the highest level of beauty.
I’m going to get off this soapbox because truly the movie was not made to address all the issues of self-perception. It was a movie that Schumer likely did to get away from her brand of raunchiness, and it feels a little forced. Part of me appreciates her branching out and trying to get away from being typecast as a raunchy blonde comedian. Part of me wants her to try harder and produce a better quality movie that doesn’t drag because you feel like you’re watching a story about a vapid, self-centered woman who only cares about her looks. Give me a story that empowers women when discussing issues of body image and confidence.
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