Many rom-coms, I’ll admit, aren’t particularly compelling. While one could argue that there are gems to be found, I have no qualms about asserting that “I Feel Pretty,” which hit theatres on April 20, isn’t one such gem. The film lacks depth, growth and, unfortunately, laughs. But, this film has its layers, as many films do. It directly targets the idea of body positivity and the societal pressures of people to look a certain way in order to succeed.
The second the trailer for the movie dropped online, there was a significant amount of backlash, some of which had to do with Amy Schumer’s style of comedy. However, a lot of it had to do with her being a white, blonde woman who is only slightly chubbier than most of Hollywood. Everyone is completely entitled to feel however they want about themselves. Insecurity manifests differently for everyone and saying that a person shouldn’t feel insecure is not constructive. I’d argue that telling someone to not feel something can lead to making someone feel even worse about themselves. A big part of me was hoping this would be addressed in the film, and that it would shut those people up. In a way, it did. The movie featured several different people expressing insecurities in their physical appearance — people like Michelle Williams and Emily Ratajkowski, who that might fit that Hollywood image. But something entirely different was brought up. The film itself is unbelievably self-contradictory mainly on the portrayal of confidence.
In the movie, Renee, played by Schumer, is a woman working out of a basement for a big-time corporation that capitalizes on what would be considered the standard idea of beauty. She is very insecure, and this leads to her denying herself opportunities to push her career forward because she doesn’t believe she has “the look.” Long story short, she bonks her head at Soul Cycle, and now she thinks she is the most beautiful person in the world, despite looking exactly the same as before. She gets her dream job, the boy, and a new-found outlook on life. In a way, it’s true; having confidence does so much to your well-being. However, the film is a comedy as well. And it attempts to make the audience laugh at the expense of Amy Schumer and how she looks.
There was one scene in the movie when Schumer’s character takes her and her date, played by Rory Scovel, to a bikini contest in a bar. Renee signs up and becomes the star of the show. She begins dancing and going crazy on the stage, with her shirt pulled up baring her midriff, with relatively skinnier women around her. More than anything, Renee is having fun. However, scenes where Schumer’s character displayed confidence, are treated like comedic gags, thus negating the film’s overall message. The simple idea of a person with Amy Schumer’s physical appearance, or just of an average looking woman displaying any level of confidence almost feels absurd.
Confidence is a state of mind and there are many factors that contribute to it. If anything, Renee’s dialogue regarding her confused states enhances and caters to the Hollywood image that has been present in the industry for decades. People should be able to embrace the reality of their bodies, curves and all. There are so many things in life that can make people confident outside of one’s physical appearance. For example, Schumer’s character is actually quite intelligent in the film, something that I felt was consistently overlooked. Instead, she is reduced to how she looks.
It’s important to acknowledge that this concept is a difficult one to address as it’s dependent on one’s state of mind. Regardless of how you view yourself, someone else views you differently. While the film’s PR attempted to label it as a “feminist” movie, it’s dependent on the idea that confidence is synonymous with a size zero.