Prior to its theatrical release, I Feel Pretty star, Amy Schumer, posted this empowering message on Instagram explaining the film’s intention:
Here is me and my friend @aidybryant feeling our prettiest in no make up, wearing dumb hats. Our movie @ifeelpretty comes out today and I hope you will see it this weekend. I’ve been talking about confidence and body image for a long time now on this press tour and it brings up a lot of feelings for people and I get it It brings feeling up for me too. From talking to hundreds of people about this I learned so much. The biggest lesson i learned was that we need to do the work to learn how to love ourselves. It’s hard work for most people. Lots of undoing of things we’ve been told or feared since childhood. A lot of self forgiveness and releasing of the fear of being insulted, which usually never happens but you put your body through the stress of an insult that never comes. Just try loving yourself for 30 seconds today. Smiling at yourself in the mirror. Confidence is all mental and it’s time we were kind to ourselves. Just try it, if for no other reason than the other way isnt working. You tried being cruel and unforgiving to yourself. Try the opposite just as an experiment. Try for 30 seconds then a minute an hour all day then all year. Baby steps. I want this movie to empower women to empower themselves. Let’s stop worrying what we look like and start loving ourselves because we’ve got work to do. I made this movie for my 12 year old self and I made it for you. Much love.
When the trailer first debuted, it conjured controversy. Some people were offended by the way Schumer’s character, Renee is supposed to be perceived. She’s insecure because she isn’t skinny enough, pretty enough, etc. However, that is not the case.
This film shows how all women feel insecure, even the ones who are perceived to be perfect. At the end of the day, what truly matters is how you feel about yourself. Nobody can make you really, deeply, honestly feel pretty except for you.
Schumer is the everywoman of our generation. She keeps it real, just like her Instagram post. She doesn’t hide behind a façade. Instead, she embraces herself and we like her all the more for it. Any woman can tell you that she has good days and bad days.
“She doesn’t hide behind a façade. Instead, she embraces herself…”
Without gaining a pound, we can suddenly feel fat. If a hair is out of place, we feel like we’re having a bad hair day. And yes, just like in the film, if we run errands in a sweatshirt and yoga pants, we may be more likely to get mistaken as a store employee. (Yes, that does actually happen.) We can either attack ourselves or we can choose to embrace ourselves, on good days and bad.
What sets I Feel Pretty apart from other films boasting the same kind of “beauty comes from within” message is that we never know the image Renee sees after her head injury. We don’t have that degrading Shallow Hal moment of what Gwyneth Paltrow looks like in and out of a fat suit. That is not the point of this movie. The only thing that changes is the way Renee feels about herself.
Renee is very insecure about her appearance. Her eyes well up with tears as she removes her cute outfit and reveals the uncomfortable pair of Spanx hidden underneath. She makes a Big-style wish and hopes to magically transform into someone with supermodel looks. Someone like her soul cycle acquaintance, Mallory (Emily Ratajkowski).
“There is no clichéd shopping/salon/make-over montage…”
After the head injury, she thinks her body has transformed because for the first time she looks in the mirror and likes the reflection staring back at her. There is no clichéd shopping/salon/make-over montage. Her attitude is the only thing that has changed. With this newfound confidence, Renee feels secure enough to chase after her dreams.
Over time, Renee starts to have it all. She gets the dream job working at LeClaire Headquarters with her idol, Avery (Michelle Williams). She misreads Ethan’s (Rory Scovel) intentions and winds up with a boyfriend who adores her. She even wins the respect of her sleek and stylish peers. Renee’s positive self-image is infectious and draws others into her orbit. They are dazzled by her sincerity and conviction.
Unfortunately, her success goes to her head and jeopardizes her friendship with the two people who always loved her just the way she is. Vivian (Aidy Bryant) and Jane (Busy Philipps) are perplexed by Renee’s entitled and demeaning attitude. Renee believes she is unrecognizable, but in reality, nothing has physically changed. When she hits her head again, the effects of the first injury are reversed. Once again, she is plagued by self-doubt.
“…finds a whimsical, funny, relatable, and entertaining way to convey a meaningful message.”
The feelings of everyone who has come to love and respect both versions of Renee have not changed. To the outside world, she’s still amazing. Sadly, she is crippled by her insecurity and she is the only one who can change that.
This notion of self-acceptance is the lesson that Schumer’s character, Renee, learns by the end of her wild and wacky journey. In fact, she delivers a rousing speech that shares the same sentiment as her Instagram post. If “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” then it is up to us to see that beauty, even on our worst day. Nobody is perfect, not even supermodels. We all have our hang-ups. We are the only ones who can get over them.
I Feel Pretty finds a whimsical, funny, relatable, and entertaining way to convey a meaningful message. It isn’t easy, but it does feel a whole lot better to embrace your imperfections and love your unique self.
I Feel Pretty (2018) Written and directed by Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein. Starring Amy Schumer, Michelle Williams, Emily Ratajkowski, Rory Scovel, Aidy Bryant, Busy Philipps and Lauren Hutton.
4 out of 5 stars
I loved “I Feel Pretty” for all the reasons you touched on in this review. Yours is one of the few reviews that seems to actually understand this film and its message. The rest get bogged down in the complexities of a society that can create the insecure Rene and how that should best be portrayed on film, in their opinion. Seems to me “I Feel Pretty” is simple for a reason – it’s a film and not a doctoral thesis. We need both if we’re even going to begin to address this issue.