If you type “Amy Schumer” and “fat” into Twitter you will see that barely a day goes by when someone doesn’t call her that offensive word. Often, they do so in pretty awful terms, like @Dolly_World, who said, “Hey #AmySchumer are you sorry for being fat and ugly. That is highly offensive to any of us that accidentally happen upon a photo of you,” or @MMAFFCA, who declared “Amy Schumer is a fat slob. If you think she’s thin, you must be an elephant.”
The anger about a famous woman being the same size as the average woman in America is constant.
You would not know this from some of the outrage directed towards Amy Schumer’s new movie, “I Feel Pretty.” In it Schumer plays an average looking woman who, after bumping her head at SoulCycle, begins seeing herself as incredibly beautiful. Some critics of the premise have remarked that the casting of Schumer in this role is absurd. On Twitter, Jeffrey Walters said “This seems like such a good idea, except Schumer is much too good looking for the role.” Sofie Hagan tweeted, “Amy Schumer is blonde, white, able-bodied, femme and yes, thin. She IS society’s beauty ideal.”
Not if the people calling her a fat slob make up part of society. And, sadly for all of us, they do.
The fact that other women have it worse does not mean that average women like Schumer have it great right now. Feeling insecure about your body is a pretty reasonable response to people calling you fat every single day. Society’s beauty standards are so rigid that practically no woman can meet them perfectly, with the possible exception of Emily Ratajkowski, who appears in the movie as a woman who meets society’s standards, well, perfectly.
Making fun of the pressure society puts on women to look young, beautiful and very, very thin is hilarious. Schumer has responded to that pressure and created some great comedic moments on her TV show “Inside Amy Schumer.”
Her sketch show comedy may be more palatable because she uses it to laugh about her body rather than express real vulnerability about it. Most of her sketches mock a society that tries to shame her rather than admitting that their shaming might make her feel bad. Even her prior movies — like “Trainwreck” and “Snatched,” have focused on how a woman who looks like her could be attractive to great-looking men. Admitting that she feels insecure and less than pretty feels like a betrayal of her message that you can always rise above the haters.
How many times have you heard a woman exclaim that she’s being ‘bad’ when she orders fattening food?
In fact, “I Feel Pretty” tackles the very real fact that most women don’t feel great, or even OK, about their appearance most days.
A poll by Glamour magazine from 2011 found that 97 percent of women have at least one “I hate my body” moment per day. Meanwhile, a poll by “Today”/AOL found that only 36 percent of men feel bad about their looks. In 2017 a Groupon study found that American women spend around $3,756 a year on their appearance (men on average spend only $2,928.) And, according to a 2016 study by Dove, 85 percent of women say they opt out of “important life activities” when they don’t feel good about their looks.
“I Feel Pretty” is not ideal on a lot of levels. The fact that Schumer’s character recites a heartfelt speech in praise of a cosmetics line, an industry that capitalizes on women’s insecurities, feels absurd.
But the film does tackle how women’s insecurity over physical appearance limits them when it comes to going after what makes them happy — whether it’s a job, a boyfriend or even eating something high in calories. How many times have you heard a woman exclaim that she’s being “bad” when she orders fattening food, as if eating french fries is a moral failing? If we were more confident, or heard fewer messages about how we had to look a very specific way, would we go after more that makes us happy? Probably.
Amy Schumer, a size-12 comedian in a world that often demands women be a size 2, has risen above her critics to become extremely successful. But lots of women won’t. Lots of women will internalize messages about how they have to be more beautiful before they deserve happiness so much that they won’t even try. We need films that talk about that particular sadness, too.
If Amy Schumer doesn’t feel pretty all the time — well, she’s just holding up a mirror to the way most of us feel, too.