I Feel Pretty Review and What it Unexpectedly Taught Me
This weekend I watched one of Amy Schumer’s latest films, I Feel Pretty thanks to Netflix.
I did not have high hopes, equally I did not have low ones either - I admittedly put it on after coming back from a sober night out (I was the designated driver) as something easy to watch in the background whilst demolishing my late nigh McDonalds - but I also did not expect it to teach such a moralising lesson on body positivity.
Full disclaimer, this is by far not the best film I have ever watched and I am also not surprised that it does not rate too highly on IMDB with a mere 5.4/10 but in my opinion it also did not deserve all the backlash that it received because the message ultimately at its core is one worth talking about.
The plot of I Feel Pretty is straightforward: Renee Barrett (Amy Schumer) is an average New York woman whose deeply-ingrained insecurities about her appearance have thus far prevented her from really reaching for the stars in her career, and her love life. After suffering a head injury during a particularly vigorous SoulCycle class, she starts believing that she's somehow been transformed into a supermodel, a delusion that gives her the confidence she needs to live her life to the fullest. Of course, this is all in her head. On the outside, Renee is the same old Renee she's ever been — just more self-assured, and comfortable in her own skin — proving that it's really what's on the inside that counts.
It's a message that seeks to be empowering to women who are constantly being bombarded with criticism and messaging that they're not hot enough, not thin enough, not fit enough, not blonde enough, not cool enough, not rich enough, not Kardashian enough... the list goes on, and on.
Comedian Sofia Hagen’s criticism of the film, echoed by countless other comments online (and to a certain extent myself), pointed to the fact that Schumer actually looks like what society says a pretty woman should. "Amy Schumer is blonde, white, able-bodied, femme and yes, thin," she continued in a thread. "She IS society's beauty ideal. So they give her a ponytail and remove her make-up and suddenly she's ugly? Why not just give her glasses or a fatsuit? What is wrong with this world?"
Pop culture is littered with beautiful women framed as unattractive for the purposes of the story. Cinderella, the OG of ugly duckling transformations, gave way to Never Been Kissed, She's All That, Miss Congeniality, Clueless, etc. But this film, is not that.
The difference in this case, is that Schumer's character isn't considered ugly, or a problem to be fixed, by anyone around her. All of that messaging is coming from her own, internalised anxieties. The whole point of I Feel Pretty is that she, like so many women, feels bad about herself because since childhood, she has been bombarded with information telling her that no one, least of all her, is ever perfect. That idea is driven home in a scene where Emily Ratajkowski, of all people, reveals that she's been struggling with self-esteem issues. The movie isn't saying you shouldn't aspire to look like Schumer, or co-stars Aidy Bryant and Busy Philipps. Ultimately, its goal is to inspire women to celebrate themselves as they are, and indict a world that prevents us from doing so.
There's something about having your own insecurities reflected back to you in an honest, understanding, and funny way that suddenly frees you from them.
Schumer says herself in an interview with Refinery29 "In any magazine article, in anything you do it's just like 'Confidence!’ You ask 'What's the sexiest thing?' 'Confidence!' But do we ever really see an example of that? That's what the movie is all about."
In summary, this film reinforced the power of believing in yourself, your worth, your beauty, everything you are and it was refreshing to see if being portrayed in a modern, unique and at times HILARIOUS way. Yes, the issue around body positivity wasn’t depicted perfectly but it’s a start.
Have you seen the film? What did you think?