Busy Philipps has something important to say about the I Feel Pretty backlash
Amy Schumer’s new movie I Feel Pretty hits theaters today, Friday, April 20th. Chances are that you’ve heard some things, seen some headlines, and read some tweets about the film. And chances are also that some of those things were negative. When the first trailer for the film was released, the I Feel Pretty backlash was swift. People argued that the movie’s central theme was problematic and sent the wrong message about body image and beauty standards. And we can see where that argument comes from. Schumer is a beautiful, intelligent woman, both IRL and on screen as her character, Renee. So it’s a little frustrating to think that the movie centers around a woman who believes confidence should come from her outer appearance.
But make no mistake: I Feel Pretty is not about a woman who needs an outer makeover. It’s about a woman who is gently (okay, violently — she hits her head on a stationary bike during a SoulCycle class) reminded that she is enough on the inside, which makes her enough on the outside. When you actually sit down and watch the movie, it quickly becomes clear that the film has nothing to do with Renee’s looks (or Schumer’s, by extension).
The message of I Feel Pretty is that no matter what you look like on the outside, if you have the ultimate confidence in yourself on the inside, you can change your life.
We spoke with Busy Philipps, who plays Renee’s friend Jane, about the film and asked how she feels about the I Feel Pretty backlash.
"I think that’s reductive if you haven’t seen the film. [laughs] I think it’s incredibly reductive to make an assumption based on a 20-second trailer for an hour and a half film. I think these conversations are important, about the kinds of messaging that we want to put forth in our society. But I also think, to me personally, the specific criticism I read seemed unfair in terms of that one woman’s interpretation of what she believes is conventionally attractive is not valid for that person having their own insecurities. Which is what the movie’s about."
Philipps emphasized that there are no fat jokes or jokes at Schumer’s expense.
"The joke is not about Amy’s looks or her body. The joke is that she doesn’t believe it, and then has all the confidence in the world all of a sudden. There’s no body jokes or fat jokes. And that’s not in the trailer, either. I get it, because of what we’re used to seeing, and the messaging that we’re used to being inundated with. I’ve been in movies before where there have been jokes at actors’ expense in terms of their weight or their looks. And it’s a really uncomfortable, gross thing to be part of on set, and then to watch it on film. I remember being very upset by it when I was in that position. But that’s not what this film is."
She reminded us that everyone — even the most beautiful people in the world — have their own insecurities.
And that those insecurities are valid, no matter how beautiful we think their outer appearance is.
"I also just think that saying to someone that their experience or feelings of insecurity are not valid because what you believe they should feel based on the way that they look is incredibly antithetical to being a feminist. I don’t discredit anyone’s life experience, and certainly not based on the way that they look. Even if they’re the most fuckin’ conventionally beautiful person in the world, you don’t know what someone’s struggles inside are. So that’s my feeling on it."
I Feel Pretty is now playing in theaters.