I Feel Pretty follows Renee Barrett (Amy Schumer), a very insecure woman working in the IT department of a cosmetics company in New York City who seems to be a little down on her luck.
Renee takes a seat on her bike but seconds later it collapses, and Renee falls forward and hits her vagina on the bar in front. Renee leaves the class, walking, legs spread wide, with a massive split in her pants from her butt to her mid-thigh. As a fellow vagina owner, I could only cringe with empathy at this point.
I Feel Pretty gets progressively more relatable and cringe worthy from this point on. Renee struggles with online dating, taking a decent group photo of her and her friends and attempting the illusive and impossible Youtube hair tutorial. She also gets ignored at a bar, and when she tries to make a baby smile it bursts into tears.
Renee starts out as a representation of an average American woman—riddled with amplified feelings of inadequacy and insecurity. After hitting her head, at yet another downward spiral of a Soul Cycle class, Renee believes she has the physical beauty of one of the model-like women she aspires to look like. So, of course, she now has the confidence, self-worth and courage to be who she has always wanted to be and get what she wants. Both of these representations—that a woman’s attitude is based entirely on her outward appearance—is, of course, exceptionally stereotypical and a little offensive.
So, to remedy these polar opposite, yet equally inaccurate representations of women, the creators of I Feel Pretty have Renee bump her head yet again. Now she can see herself in her true form and realises that she mustered all of that confidence and gumption, and turned her life around, as her regular self. Sending all of us the lovely message that looks aren’t everything, and attitude can get you anywhere.
This sounds like a nice concept on paper; I’m sure that most viewers will see what is trying to be conveyed here and get a few good laughs out of it too. However, the creators seem to have forgotten one very important rule: two wrongs don’t make a right.Almost the entire length of the film is spent focussing on Renee’s insecurities and the opportunities that only stereotypically “beautiful” women have, in comparison to women who aren’t considered to be beautiful. Renee not only looks down on herself because of her supposed lack of traditional beauty, but she also looks down on her friends and anyone else around her who may not fit the “perfect” mould—projecting her own insecurities on to every other woman around her. She represents everything wrong with the beauty expectations of women, and the last ten or so minutes of the film just don’t make up for this.
I Feel Pretty may not quite have hit its mark but tackling women’s beauty standards was never going to come easy. The film is not without its flaws, but it was relatable, and it was entertaining—at least they didn’t go Shallow Hal on us and physically change Renee’s appearance.