If you watched the trailer for Amy Schumer's new movie, I Feel Pretty, and ended it feeling perplexed, disturbed or completely enraged, please know that you are not alone. After the trailer finished I felt so concerned that this was a ~legit~ movie, and not some parody scam, that I had to write down my feels. Spoiler alert: The feels were mainly sitting on the extremely pissed off side of the scale, so prepare yourself for some rage.
But, before we dive in, here's the premise of the film: Amy Schumer's character, Renee, is dissatisfied with the way she looks, believing that she's bottom of the pile because she's not "undeniably pretty". She then smacks her head on a bike during a SoulCycle class, wakes up and looks in the mirror, seeing herself as a supermodel — whilst for the audience, she looks exactly the same as she always did. She then 'lives her best life' with the confidence that being stereotypically hot supposedly brings. If there's much more plot involved, we're unsure, but here's the trailer so you can get up to speed:
So what exactly is wrong with this movie? Well, let me tell you…
#1 Amy Schumer is an able-bodied, white, cisgender, attractive woman
Not that I want to hold these facts against Amy Schumer, but it has to be noted that she occupies a cisgendered, healthy body and therefore placing it (in the movie) as the lowest of low, as if she is immensely disadvantaged by her body, makes a mockery out of those legitimately in a worse position.
A number of body-positive activists came forward after the trailer dropped to highlight just how fucked the premise of this character being labelled as ugly and disadvantaged is. Sofie Hagen, comedian and total babe, took to Twitter in an instant to rage about the trailer. I'll let her tweets speak for herself:
Sofie even describes this movie as Hollywood's excuse of an attempt to be inclusive, highlighting that they've failed massively on proving that they aren't shallow by funding a movie that tackles body issues in this way.
#2 You should not have to suffer a head injury to feel comfortable with your body
I'll admit, being genuinely body positive can be tough. When you're surrounded by imagery of the body or face or skin colour that you should have, it can make you critique yourself in a way that is immensely damaging. Crawling out from the hole of self-hate society has dug for you is a steep climb, but one that is possible. There are now so many body positive ambassadors on social media and an increased representation of varying women on screen. I agree, however, that we're nowhere near close enough to living in a bodyposi-paradise, but things are slowly improving.
Using the plot device of Renee thwacking her head so hard on an exercise bike that she sustains a serious head injury as the only possible way for her to see herself as beautiful takes the piss out of the hard work that everyone else has to put in.
Let's turn back to our clever friend, Sofie Hagen, again for some valuable insights:
#3 There is fat-shaming and skinny-shaming happening all over the place
Fat-shaming is something that occurs on the daily. There are snap judgements made about people's health when they are over a certain weight, people are accused of sucking health systems dry for their 'self-induced' disabilities and fat-shaming slurs are tossed around the streets of the world like it's a fucking hilarious pastime.
In the I Feel Pretty trailer alone, I counted seven lots of fat-shaming. From the, "We don't carry your size" comment in the opening clip, all the way to the nude bedroom scene, the supporting characters mocked, judged and completely ridiculed Amy Schumer's body.
The pinnacle of shitness is captured in the 'bikini contest' scene featured in the trailer. Amy's character, Renee, signs herself up for the bikini contest which then triggers some kind of competition dance sequence where the cameramen choose to zoom in and film Amy bouncing in slow motion, showing off her (maybe) three rolls. Maximum. Highlighting this healthy weight as something unattractive, even repulsive, takes us back to a dangerous place in terms of body positivity — stressing to women, once again, that 'fat' is bad and never, ever sexy.
On the flip-side, I Feel Pretty also manages to skinny-shame in the same production. Renee's friend is played by Emily Ratajkowski (the swimwear designer and model that you'll probably recognise from the also problematic "Blurred Lines" music video). She is seen in the trailer as having an emotional moment, where she says, "I'm just dealing with low self-esteem" — which is a fair and valid emotion to have as a human being. However, Renee swoops in, interrupting her by saying, "I wanna punch you right in your dumb face right now." FYI: If anyone ever opens up to you about their own body image issues, please never respond with this quote.
Obviously the 'joke' is that Emrata is smaller than Amy and therefore "hotter," and because of that she has absolutely no right to have any of her own insecurities or body hang ups. Riiiight.
Renee then follows up her unfortunate comment with another, saying, "Do you have even have all the ribs that I have?" Sure, she's poking fun at herself — something that Amy Schumer herself does in her stand up shows — but minimising another person's issues, particularly when dealing with something so closely connected to mental health is dangerous and should not be endorsed on Hollywood screens.
#5 It should not be seen as a laughable offence for feeling good about your body when you’re the same size as Amy Schumer
The whole foundation of this movie is that it is 'ridiculous' that Amy Schumer's character should ever feel good about herself. Renee is constantly met with eye rolls, confused faces and dumb-founded reactions when she speaks highly of herself and her looks. She even gets a side eye from Naomi Campbell! Sure, that's happened to a lot of people, so I'll move on…
If the characters on screen are ripping apart Renee for being positive about her own body, for being confident in herself and the way she looks, what is that saying to people watching? To me, it reads like a big flashy sign saying, "DO YOU LOOK LIKE AMY SCHUMER? YOU SHOULD HATE YOURSELF." Which, frankly, is insulting to anyone and everyone — from Amy herself all the way to women that are larger, less abled-bodied, less cis and less white, AKA all the things that are promoted in society to be 'better'.
#6 This movie is the epitome of one step forward, 12 million steps back
Trying to look at the ~positives~ with this movie, I Feel Pretty at the very least still passes the Bechdel Test (meaning it features at least two women who talk about something other than a man). It places a woman in a leading role, and that's good, but there seems to be very little other than that going for it. It doesn't seem very diverse in its casting, with some races massively underrepresented, and as mentioned in this (now, rather lengthy) rant, there are a flurry of issues within the movie addressing fat-shaming, skinny-shaming, mental health dismissals and just generally missing the damn mark.
It seems such a shame, when society seems to be getting shit done in terms of prioritising women's issues and giving much needed attention to important, worthy, causes, for a production house to chuck millions of dollars at a movie which — in my opinion — rewinds progression tenfold.
I hope I am proved wrong, and that this trailer has simply amplified the more extreme elements of this film for shock value, but I have a funny feeling that there will just be a shit tonne more rage when the full movie is released.
EURGH. Rant over.