Inspiration Report

Everyone today is familiar with the story of the human version of the ugly duckling. A person, usually a woman, is ugly and sad about it. Then, through some form of magical experience, they become beautiful. This transformation can be caused by literal magic, such as a fairy godmother or magic potion, or the “magic” of an incredible makeover, such as in “Princess Diaries.” Regardless, the ugly duckling changes their appearance dramatically to become a beautiful swan and in doing so becomes confident, powerful and wins the man of their dreams.

Amy Schumer’s latest film, “I Feel Pretty,” in many ways follows this ugly duckling story line, but the movie has one major difference from other transformation stories. Amy Schumer’s character, Renee Bennett, does not actually change her appearance. Her transition into a swan is not caused by makeup or magical spell. It is caused by a sudden and unexpected change in perspective which leads to a surge in self-confidence.

In “I Feel Pretty,” Renee falls during her spin class and hits her head. The blow causes her to become convinced that she is stunningly beautiful to the point that she reintroduces herself to her friends because she believes they will not recognize her. Physically, Renee has not changed one whit, but her newfound confidence causes her to approach the world in a whole different way.

The movie has gotten some criticism for continuing to focus on body image, but others have claimed that the movie actually subverts the idea that size is everything. It is not a physical transformation that changes Renee’s life, but a sudden revival of self-confidence. She does not magically become skinny. She simply believes that she is beautiful.

While the film has its flaws, the message at its core is a good one to share during a time that is filled with people raging against “society’s impossible beauty standards” while simultaneously posting “fitspo” images of improbably toned workout gurus with snarky tags such as “#WhatsYourExcuse?” and “#DoYouEvenTry.” Unlike the contradictory messages found in social media that swing wildly between all body types are beautiful, skinny sucks and fat is lazy, “I Feel Pretty” states that what really matters is how a person feels about themselves. Renee does not undergo a transformation physically, but her new relationship with her body allows her to achieve all the things she thought that being skinny would bring. She is happy for the first time in years. Although the film uses the classic ugly duckling story to make its point, the focus on a woman’s struggle with her appearance does not negate the central theme. “I Feel Pretty” reminds women that the most important thing is to be comfortable in their own skin. That is what will give them the confidence boost that so many people believe a perfect body will bring. Comfort creates confidence, and confidence is very, very sexy.

Join the Discussion
comments powered by Disqus