Full disclosure: I don’t hate Amy Schumer.
I don’t love everything she does, but I am not personally in the camp that she is a fat shamer, or a out for shock value or any of the many reasons many people, apparently, really don’t like her.
I went in to seeing her latest film, I Feel Pretty, skeptical but with an open mind. I read the criticisms, and knowing what I know of Schumer’s films, it wouldn’t have surprised me if there was some validity to the claims that she made a movie about a woman who only thought she was pretty because she suffered a brain injury.
Reviewers had a field day with it. One reporter called the movie a down right bummer.
“The movie’s frankly depressing,” Michael Phillips wrote for the Chicago Tribune. “That word, “depressing,” was in fact the first word I heard from all three college students, with whom I attended a screening,” he said.
The New York Times was even less approving, calling the movie endemic of a world that perpetuates fairy tails of how easy it is to change long held mindsets. “I’ve been there, and it’s a good guess you have, too. The idea that a lack of self-confidence can be essentially bootstrapped away — that all we need to combat oppressive forces is the power of positive thinking and a flattering lipstick — is an exhausted, false fairy tale, one peddled by (among others!) self-help books, beauty companies and, disappointingly, movies like this one,” Manohla Dargis said.
My social feed was no more kind. Friends (who had only read previews) blasted the film, saying Schumer’s size 10-12 physique made the movie, about a woman struggling with confidence due to her weight, even more of a slap in the face. I went into the movie pretty much expecting to be underwhelmed, if not totally annoyed.
But I actually kind of loved it.
I am Renee, Amy Schumer’s character, in a lot of ways. I’m not a size 2, and never will be. I am not full of confidence and I can 100% guarantee you that my life, especially in recent years, would be different if I had balls-out confidence like head-injured Renee does in the movie.
Is it going to win any awards? Probably not. But the criticisms related to the message are, in my opinion, missing the point of the movie.
How many of us have opted not to go up to this person, or go to that event, or apply to that job, simply because confidence was holding us back? Many of us. Probably most of us, no matter our waist size. Confidence doesn’t discriminate based on weight. That is one of the very points this movie makes – that even people we think have it all in spades, still suffer from confidence issues.
The movie isn’t about weight getting in Schumer’s way of her happiness and success. It’s about her lack of confidence getting in the way. Maybe it does gloss over the difficulty people face trying to change their mindset, by literally hitting her over the head with it; but it’s a movie. That’s kind of how movies do things. It doesn’t change the message, though – mindset is everything.
The movie did a great job of highlighting the difference confidence can make. It also exposed the reality that ‘skinny,’ ‘beautiful’ people don’t necessarily walk around with all of the confidence you think you would if you looked like them.
Don’t go into seeing this movie thinking you’re going to watch cinematic gold. It’s not. But it’s a fun movie, about someone who isn’t ‘movie star skinny,’ who, for a few weeks, is given insight into what it feels like to be legitimately confident. Renee gets to enjoy all of the benefits of taking a step back and realizing that she’s maybe a hell of a lot more capable than what she gave herself credit for.
How many of us have been held back by our own lack of confidence? Frankly, probably many of us.
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