We all know – you hate Amy Schumer. Probably for no specific reason, it's just popular to hate her now because enough trolls on the internet said so.
Schumer has been continuously dragged for allegedly stealing jokes, not being able to talk about anything else except sex, vaginas and birth control, and, of course, her looks. Nasty comments about her face, her waist size, her clothing choices, etc. have been following the comedian everywhere, from social media to live stand-up shows.
Such amount of criticism, often unjustified and directionless, would trample anyone's self-esteem but Schumer has always been good at handling it with grace, wit, and humor. So much so, she has turned it into a profitable business and is yet to make some extra cheddar with the upcoming release of her new movie, I Feel Pretty.
I Feel Pretty tells the story of an "ordinary woman" – Renee – who "struggles with feelings of insecurity and inadequacy." One day, after experiencing a hard fall, Renee wakes up "believing she is suddenly the most beautiful and capable woman on the planet [...] empowered to live her life fearlessly and flawlessly."
Basically, Schumer's character gains that Zoolander-ish confidence that makes her think she is undeniably pretty despite not changing one bit. As the comedian puts herself:
"Renee, she kind of has low self-esteem and she really wants to be pretty and just feel all the parts of life that open up to you when you're just gorgeous, and then I fall off my bike in SoulCycle and I start seeing myself as a supermodel.
I look exactly the same, but in my mind, I am Giselle [Bündchen], I am one of the Jenner-Kardashians – gorgeous, and things start happening."
The trailer for I Feel Pretty reveals that Renee ends up advancing in her career and falling in love with a guy all thanks to the blind confidence she gained from that accident. Even though the "spell" eventually lifts, she emerges a new person with a newfound realization that beauty is not skin deep.
Naturally, a movie that aims to tackle self-confidence and body image through humor has quickly stirred backlash online with people pointing out two major flaws: Schumer is unrelatable and it shouldn't take a head injury to have confidence. Let's dissect them one by one.
#1: "Schumer IS society's beauty ideal"
The first argument was strongly supported by comedian Sofie Hagen who pointed out that Schumer is only "half an inch away" from Hollywood's beauty standards, which makes her character rather privileged and difficult to connect with.
Nothing to argue with here – Schumer definitely isn't ugly, fat and unworthy, but neither was Bridgette Jones and we still went along with it.
So the new Amy Schumer movie is about a woman who is half an inch from being conventionally Hollywood attractive (but rest-of-the-world attractive) who thinks she's rest-of-the-world-attractive? I have never been more confused in my life.— Sofie Hagen (@SofieHagen) February 9, 2018
Amy Schumer is blonde, white, able-bodied, femme and yes, thin. 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?— Sofie Hagen (@SofieHagen) February 9, 2018
Who is this meant to resonate with? Before we can enjoy the premis, surely we have to buy into the fact that she is not pretty. How many of us are bigger than her? Are we supposed to accept that THIS is ugly when it's all we've been taught that we should aim for?— Sofie Hagen (@SofieHagen) February 9, 2018
Focusing on Schumer's appearance not representing the full spectrum – plus-size, POC, LGBTQ – overshadows the premise of the movie (or at least what I'd like to think was the premise for it): the fact that absolutely anyone, no matter how hot and conventionally beautiful they might be, experience feelings of self-doubt, struggle with self-esteem, and get pigeonholed into focusing on looks instead of beautifying their personalities.
I'd like to believe, maybe naively or maybe just as inadequately being yet another white, cis female myself, that I Feel Pretty should incite empathy and not pit women against each other blaming one another for not being ugly enough when, time and time again, we are told the exact opposite.
I'd like to believe that, as women, we are able to recognize the fact that all of our counterparts, no matter their waist and hip size, are subject to demeaning comments and unfair treatment, and that we ALL need that pat on the shoulder and a "job well done."
#2: It shouldn't take a head injury to have confidence
The motif in Schumer's new film that actually is slightly problematic is that her character has to go through a head trauma to gain the confidence and self-love she's been praying for. It really isn't an empowering message, and, as the same Sofie Hagen points out, "This movie legit had to become SCI-FI for it to be realistic. Only in a MAGICAL universe could she possibly feel pretty."
Can it be written off as comic relief? After all, we're not dealing with a documentary of a meaningful drama here – I Feel Pretty is supposed to be a feel-good comedy that, if anything, reminds you that confidence trumps looks. Should Mel Gibson have electrocuted himself to stop being a chauvinist pig...?
All in all, there's no reason for you to not be in love with the movie and its empowering, despite watered down, message. On the other hand, constructive criticism only brings us further and, hey, maybe in a couple of years we'll see an actually progressive movie on body-image. Let's hope.
As a person really struggling to love her self as she is, this honestly couldn't have come at a better time. I like dealing with crappy stuff with humor, and the truth of the matter is, some of us DO need a BONK on the head to realize we are beautiful. @amyschumer #IFeelPretty— Cristy Tango (@_CristyTango_) February 10, 2018