Have you ever seen a movie, watched a television show, or read a book and loved it, only to read reviews that bash it or talk to friends that tear it apart? This has happened to me many times, and the thought that runs through my head is always some version of, “Did we watch (or read) the same thing?”
This is exactly how I felt walking out of the movie “I Feel Pretty” starring Amy Schumer, which I saw with a girlfriend a few weeks ago. I am not usually one to see a romantic comedy in theaters, but I make it a point to support women in leading roles, especially in comedy– one of the most difficult areas for women to excel in Hollywood. Amy Schumer is a feminist, hilarious, and a supporter of many movements that are important to my heart, and I wanted her movie to be successful, despite mutterings of scathing reviews from critics (which I decided not to read until after I had seen the film.)
Consider this your warning, readers– I won’t go into a full synopsis here, but there are definitely spoilers ahead. So, if you still plan to see the film (which I hope that you do) now is the time to stop reading and buy your ticket.
“I Feel Pretty” is the story of a woman, Renee Barrett (played by Schumer) who suffers from a lack of confidence in her appearance until she hits her head and wakes up from her injury seeing herself in a new, beautiful light.
Critics of the film have accused it of reinforcing body stereotypes about thinness and conventional beauty. And while these ideas were central to Renee’s body consciousness before her head injury, I completely disagree with these critical reviews. Yes, Amy Schumer is an average size woman that sees herself as fat and ugly. And yes, she surely sees herself this way because of the societal constructs that exist around thinness and beauty, especially in the industry she works in (the high-end beauty industry.) But, in my opinion, this film does anything but reinforce the idea that thinness is best. Because that is not what this film is about. It is not about size or physical appearance. It is about confidence.
Confidence is the only thing that changes for Renee pre and post head injury. Her physical appearance does not change at all. Unlike Gwyneth Paltrow in the movie “Shallow Hal,", which some critics have compared “I Feel Pretty” to, Renee never appears different from her original appearance to the viewer or other people around her. Throughout the film, the viewer sees Amy Schumer as we have always seen her.
What changes is how Renee sees herself. She is the exact same inside and out, but she begins to view herself with love and gratitude. She begins to believe that she can accomplish more than she ever thought possible in her professional and personal life. There is not a moment when she says, “I am so skinny!” But there are many moments when she exclaims “I am beautiful!”
I love this movie because it does not ignore the societal constructs of beauty and size that have diminished so many women’s relationships with our physical appearance. Instead, it highlights these constructs, and shows us what we can do when we overcome them mentally instead of physically. We do not have to change the way that we look to change the way we see ourselves, and this film shows that in a way that is heartwarming, funny, and inspiring for all women and men that have struggled with self confidence.
At Gild Collective the importance of confidence is woven into every message that we share. It was incredibly refreshing for me to watch a romantic comedy that was about more than two traditionally beautiful people falling in love. Instead, this film was about a woman that looks more like me than anyone else I am accustomed to seeing on a big screen. And yes, she did fall in love, which was incredibly sweet and highly entertaining. But more important than that was the relationship she found with herself, despite what society tells her might be “flaws.”
The key to finding that relationship was finding her confidence. While most of us will never fall and hit our head in an expensive spinning class and change our opinion of ourselves, we CAN work on improving our confidence every single day.
If you are interested in discussing the impact of confidence on the women in your organization (and how you can build more of it)– reach out!