The film's main character has low self-esteem, but a head injury sees her self-image magically transformed.
The just-released trailer for Amy Schumer’s new comedy I Feel Pretty features a woman who feels great about herself. She’s considering a career in modeling. She knows dudes are dying to get her digits. She struts down the street with her head held high. Oh, and she also hit that head during a SoulCycle class and that’s the reason she sees herself as beautiful. It’s that last detail, and I Feel Pretty framing it as hilarious, that has people talking about what exactly the movie’s trying to say.
Schumer revealed part of the first trailer for I Feel Pretty during an appearance on Ellen last week and later posted the full trailer on Twitter. As she explained to Ellen DeGeneres, her character in the movie, Renee, has low self-esteem, but after a spin class accident, her self-image is magically transformed — even though her looks haven’t changed at all.
“I start seeing myself as a supermodel,” Amy Schumer said on the show. “I look exactly the same, but in my mind, I am Gisele (Bündchen), I am one of the Jenner-Kardashians — gorgeous, and things start happening.” It’s a premise that seems to want to comment on the way women are unfairly judged by their appearance and made to feel unworthy if they don’t meet an impossible, male-driven standard.
But many online are pointing out that the way the movie appears to be framed is problematic.
For starters, Schumer essentially already embodies that “ideal” beauty standard: She’s white, blonde, straight, feminine, and thin. And the idea that it would take a brain injury for a woman who’s bigger than a size 2 to feel confident about herself — and the idea that a smaller-than-average-sized woman being confident is supposed to be funny — isn’t going over well with everyone.
Comedian Sofie Hagen wrote an extensive Twitter thread on the topic, in which she takes issue with both the idea of Schumer being thought of as ugly and that her being confident looks like it’s supposed to be a punchline. “How about instead of her ‘hitting her head and damaging her brain’ in order to become so deluded that she’d think she was ACTUALLY pretty, she read about capitalism and [realized] that women’s low self-esteem is a patriarchal ploy and that she is worthy of self-love?” Hagen wrote in one tweet.
Others echoed similar frustrations with the trailer:
This isn’t the first time Amy Schumer’s been called out for missing the mark.
People had problems with some of the messages in her past comedy specials and movies, as well. But some fans said the negative reaction is unfair, and they’re holding out hope that Schumer is able to do with this movie what she did with many of the insightful sketches she wrote for Inside Amy Schumer. Which is to say, deliver a sharp social commentary through subversive humor.
Schumer hasn’t commented on the backlash. She did tell Katie Couric, when she recently appeared on her podcast, that she sees the movie as empowering for women at a time when they need to feel confident.
Moviegoers can decide how they feel about I Feel Pretty for themselves when the movie hits theaters in June.