For most (if not all) of us, the struggle of self-esteem is a daily occurrence. Whether it’s a general feeling of discomfort with ourselves and our bodies, a sense of imposter syndrome, an eating disorder, or a lot of money spent on beauty or shapewear products, low self-esteem tends to be a destructive – and expensive – trait. But what if we just woke up one day and decided to be confident? That’s the idea explored by I Feel Pretty, which stars Amy Schumer and hits theaters this Friday.
The premise of this comedy is pretty straightforward: “Change your mind, change your life.” Or, as the movie’s tagline puts it, Change everything without changing anything. We see this transformation at work through Renee (Schumer) – a woman who is crippled by self-doubt until she gets a wakeup call in the form of a serious fall from her SoulCycle bike. The good news is that her head injury makes her see herself in a whole new way: as a total babe.
While the message is powerful and important, the execution waters it down a bit. Many of the reactions to Renee’s self-love are harsh and extreme, with the models walking the halls of the beauty company Lily LeClair – Renee’s employer – and various passerby ignoring her or reacting with horror. And while we never see exactly what Renee is seeing in the mirror post-injury, the fact that it isn’t clear whether she perceives herself as model-thin or has truly come to love herself as-is feels problematic. As the film progresses, we also see Renee brush off more average-looking visitors to Lily LeClair, not to mention her own friends (played by Busy Philipps and Aidy Bryant), seemingly becoming even more obsessed with beauty once she feels secure in her own.
That said, the film really succeeds with several of the supporting cast. Standup comedian Rory Scovel is charming as Renee’s love interest, Ethan, who is also insecure but finds himself drawn to Renee through her undeniable confidence. (The kind of confidence that drives her to enter in a Coney Island bikini contest on their first date, complete with some serious dance moves.) Michelle Williams is also fantastic as Avery LeClair, who finds herself working closely with Renee and has what I found to be some of the funniest moments in the film.
I Feel Pretty isn’t perfect, but it raises important points about how we see ourselves – and how significantly that can impact our reality. The execution keeps the message from being as radical as it might otherwise be, but the film is still a good conversation starter (and a good time). Come for the laughs, and leave with the inspiration to live a little more fearlessly.
I Feel Pretty hits theaters on Friday, April 20.
Photos By: Mark Schäfer