Amy Schumer meant for her new movie, I Feel Pretty (which hit theaters April 20), to empower women of all shapes and sizes to find confidence in who they are. However, criticism of the movie started when trailers began showing in early February.
In I Feel Pretty, Schumer’s character Renee Bennet gains an immense self-confidence boost when she smacks her head falling off a SoulCycle bike, looks in the mirror, and suddenly sees herself as absolutely flawless. Renee’s new self-perception empowers her to break boundaries in her career as well as her love life, although she appears identical to the audience and everyone around her.
Many critics complained that Schumer already fits the Hollywood stereotype of beauty as she is blonde and thinner than the average American woman. TheNew York Times called the movie “practically a feature-length version of that Dove ad in which a forensic sketch artist illustrates women’s distorted ideas of their own looks.” Some individuals have even complained that the movie suggests that brain damage or concussion-induced delusion is the only way for a woman who does not look like a supermodel to believe that she is beautiful.
Schumer, however, insists that they missed the point.
“This isn’t movie about an ‘ugly’ woman who finds confidence in her personality. It’s about an average woman who really struggles with self-esteem. And that’s something we all do… There were those who said my character shouldn’t feel insecure about her size. But it’s not anyone’s place to tell someone whether or not they have a right to feel bad about themselves,” Schumer said in an interview with Bustle.
Critics of the trailer also miss out on important aspects of the movie, including the negative effects of Renee’s abrupt self-esteem boost. We see the character go through undesirable changes as she starts alienating friends and wavering on fidelity. Renee has to deal with these aspects too, creating a narrative that encompasses more than just dealing with body image and taking one’s entire being into account. Naysayers don’t seem to take into account any of this multidimensionality, indicating that they may have only seen the trailer.
While I Feel Pretty does play into beauty stereotypes, this doesn’t discount Schumer’s overall message and purpose for the movie. Schumer insists, “But maybe, just maybe, I Feel Pretty will help people more than they realize. I really hope that they give it a chance and have a good time and laugh and feel a lot better about themselves.”
This is a movie about a woman who learns to hone her confidence to ultimately do something positive for herself and those around her. That deserves respect and appreciation.