I Feel Pretty attempts to hold a mirror up to society. I’ll admit it: I never, ever used to find Amy Schumer funny. Not because I’m Team Monique, but because her slapstick comedy is predictable, self-deprecating and boring. So obviously, when I Feel Pretty starts, Amy is just being Amy.
I’m not surprised she broke the Soul Cycle bike. I am not even surprised that she used her vagina as the punchline. When Issa Rae did Broken Pu$$y, it was funny because no one saw that ridiculousness coming and she didn’t need to do a show-and-tell for it to be comical. But Schumer wants to show you.
The point is: Schumer’s fat-shaming was expected in the beginning. But then something changed.
See, the story is: Schumer plays a young woman called Renee. She’s a regular girl’s girl who works in the off-site basement of a make-up brand she adores, but she doesn’t see herself represented by all things beautiful.
She goes through life feeling uncomfortable in her body, feeling like men don’t find her attractive and feeling like she’ll never amount to anything because she does not feel pretty.
One day, she hits her head and suddenly sees herself like she has never seen herself before: she’s gorgeous. And the movie tells the tale of how she interacts with the world when she has that confidence - and when she doesn’t.
So what changed from typical Schumer shenanigans to something deeper?
As the audience, you don’t see the trickery coming. There’s a scene where Renee is looking at herself in the mirror, and she cannot believe how beautiful she is. When the audience is finally shown Renee in the mirror, even I believed I was going to see someone totally different as Renee’s reflection. Ouch.
That’s an indictment on me, and I suppose on society. That the set up was that Renee is not pretty because she doesn’t feel that way, and so the expectation was that she would have to be someone else, in order to finally be pretty. Deep, right?
The rest of the film sees Renee make some very valid points about the beauty industry, and beauty standards dictated by society. For instance, there’s an underlying theme that even the beautiful girls crumble under societal pressure.
Like Avery, a character who sees Michelle Williams - not from DC3 - adopt an annoyingly high pitched voice so as to infantilise the new owner of her family’s business, struggle with acceptance even though she runs an image empire of a make-up business.
Girls like the ultra-thin, Hadid-looking Mallory (played by Emily Ratajkowski), get all the attention. Guys go as far as treating Renee like the help when Mallory is around, but Mallory still feels inadequate.
And of course, Naomi Campbell makes a cameo as Helen, a key element to the business of beauty who points out that Renee is not really the kind of girl people expect to see when they come to a place of pampering.
But most importantly, there is a speaker box-loud voice for women who feel marginalised. It’s impossible to not root for Renee. Even when she becomes a tool, you’re still rooting for her.
I don’t quite know how Schumer managed to connect with me on this level in this film, but I’d like to guess that somewhere in between her self-deprecation, there was a relatable authenticity.