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‘I Feel Pretty’ is an Empowering Movie… If You’re a Woman Who’s a Size Medium or Smaller

Amy Schumer in I Feel Pretty (2018)
Photo by Mark Schfer/Courtesy of STXfilms – © Motion Picture Artwork 2017 STX Financing, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

When the trailers first came out for I Feel Pretty, a lot of people, myself included, scratched their heads. Sure, this wasn’t the first attempt at a body swapping movie, but it came off as very Shallow Hal-like. A “fat” (we’ll get to that in a bit) girl has a head injury and thinks she looks like a supermodel? A premise like that in 2018 wasn’t going to fare well with a lot of people.

And, having seen an advanced screening of the film earlier this week, I can confirm it isn’t as bad as the trailers make it out to be.

Unfortunately, if you’re not a girl who’s a size medium or smaller, you’re not going to get much out of this one.

See, this movie would have been so much better if Amy Schumer had not been cast as the lead.

This is nothing against Schumer as a person or a comedian. I love her past work and think she’s pretty talented. But, let’s get one thing straight: Amy Schumer is not fat. She never was. She’s the size of an average woman. She has my dream body.

And while this movie (and Schumer herself) tries to convince you that the “confidence is key” moral of the story has nothing to do with her outward appearance, especially her size, it does.

It definitely does.

While Schumer isn’t lying by stating her character, Renee, never says “I’m so thin!,” the following things do happen in I Feel Pretty:

  • Renee asks for a double wide width shoe at SoulCycle, a shoe size commonly associated with plus-sized women. This is played for laughs.  
  • After a night out with her friends, she comes home and undresses, revealing full-body Spanx.
  • She goes into a store and an employee approaches her immediately saying they don’t carry her size in store, but online.
  • Right after she hits her head, Renee looks in the mirror and marvels at her brand new body. She specifically asks the soul cycle employee to feel her newfound “rock hard” abs, in which the other person makes a comment about them being soft while touching her stomach. This is also played for laughs.
  • When she gets her coveted receptionist job at the makeup company she works for, she’s constantly surrounded by employees who are a size 00, making her appear larger in comparison. One woman visiting the company even makes a comment about “someone who looks like you” working there.
  • She makes a comment to her co-workers about how she can eat whatever she wants and her figure isn’t affected.
  • Emily Ratajkowski is essentially her foil.
  • The camera pans to her stomach more times than necessary.

Do you get where I’m going here?

Oh, and don’t get me started on the bikini contest scene. It’s essentially the SNL “Chippendales Audition,” skit, except in this movie, Amy Schumer isn’t Chris Farley in any way, comedic or size wise.

This moment also sums up the movie’s attempt at an empowering message, as it wants audiences to feel empowered by Renee’s confidence, while also playing it for laughs. You can’t have it both ways!

If you wanted to go all the way in playing the main character’s size for laughs, maybe the filmmakers should’ve actually cast someone who wasn’t already conventionally attractive as the lead. Surrounding Amy Schumer with supermodels doesn’t make her undesirable!

Seriously, this movie would have been leagues better (but still filled with so many plot holes) if the lead wasn’t a white, average looking blonde woman. Why wasn’t Nicole Byer the lead of this movie? She would’ve been perfect! Heck, all you had to do was swap Schumer and Aidy Bryant’s roles and a major problem would have been solved.

The film also gets lost in its message in ways other than the clear miscasting of its main character. The male love interest has some insecurities of his own (apparently men can’t do Zumba without being mocked), but that is also played for laughs and never resolved. The fact that Renee works for the makeup industry, and that she has a whole arc about how luxury brands don’t really care about the average woman, comes off as revolutionary on the surface. But, then you realize that the whole point of the makeup industry is to essentially sell products to women to fix their insecurities, and Renee is only helping them profit by handling their Target-level line.

Had this been a clothing company looking to expand to a plus size line rather than a beauty brand creating a diffusion line, the message may have come across stronger, but nope.

This movie had so many things it wanted to say about society, but barely whispered any of them.

If you’re a girl who looks like Amy Schumer, or you’re a wine mom who finds minion memes as peak comedy, you’re probably going to like this. If not, I would skip this one… unless you love Michelle Williams, because she’s undoubtedly the best thing in this.

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