Do you feel pretty?
That’s the question for audiences of I Feel Pretty. The film follows Amy Schumer’s character, Renee, a young woman struggling with self-esteem. She shares a dreary basement office with her less-than-professional male coworker and has a hard time finding suitable online dates. Then one day in spin class she takes a gasp-worthy spill. She is completely knocked out, but when she wakes up she has a new outlook on life. All of sudden she feels beautiful, even though nothing physically has changed.
This internal transformation translates into a burst of confidence in all aspects of her life. She bonds with models and assumes a man opening a door is holding it open for her. She also has the courage to go after her dream job and is fearless when it comes to dating. This is where Schumer shines most as a comic. Somehow she is able to make jokes about herself and her body that have the audience laughing with her, not at her.
Seamlessly woven throughout the comedy is an unflinchingly honest look at the damage that the Hollywood definition of “beauty” has done to our society. One of the first scenes involves Renee standing in front of the mirror, completely unhappy with how she thinks her body looks. It’s an accurate portrayal of how countless people feel. Regardless of size or weight, many of us too easily find something negative about ourselves to focus on. Never underestimate the power that poor self-esteem can hold over a person.
When the trailer for I Feel Pretty came out, a backlash erupted on social media. Some people felt that the movie was suggesting that someone who is not “beautiful” needs to hit their head in order to believe they are pretty. Others said that Schumer was already society's beauty ideal and therefore too pretty to convincingly portray someone who feels ugly.
“While I mostly feel good about myself now, I know plenty of other women don't,” wrote Schumer in response to the criticism in a Bustle article. “I wanted to make I Feel Pretty to empower them to live up to their full potential and to get out of their own way.”
If you come to the screen with an open mind, I Feel Pretty is a reminder that self-esteem and confidence come from knowing who we are. And who are we? Children of God.
Never underestimate the power that poor self-esteem can hold over a person.
In 1 John 3:1 we are told, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” Being children of God means that we’ve been given the gift of eternal life and that we are no longer slaves to sin, including the sin of societal beauty standards. We must remember that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” and stop changing who we are to fit an earthly definition of beauty. We are free to walk with confidence, knowing that God loves us, that we are his, and that nothing can ever separate us from his love.
I Feel Pretty is an invitation for us to be ourselves, unapologetically. As with physical appearance, faith and religion can be an easy target for judgment. The result is that many Christians choose to live their faith life in private and hide their true self from the world. Instead, with Jeremiah 17:7 in mind, we need to remember that, “Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.”
While Renee’s antics after hitting her head are sometimes over the top, they are those of a woman completely free and happy with who she is. After spontaneously entering a beauty competition, she isn't upset that she lost, but glad that she had fun. How often do we live life like that, completely confident to be a Christian? What would that look like?
At the end of the film, we understand it was the people in Renee's life who have helped her truly discover her self-worth. Once she realizes her boyfriend (Rory Scovel) has always seen her as the same person that she’d physically always been, she develops real self-confidence. Only then does she start to understand that people care about her. They didn't care about what she looked like. They loved her because of who she was: kind, funny, and caring.
We’re likewise blessed because God’s love for us is not dependent on what we look like or even what we do. His love is unconditional. He is concerned about our heart, not whether we measure up to the world’s standard of beauty. Peter wrote, “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”
Just as the Bible’s message of salvation is available to all who choose to listen and believe, I Feel Pretty’s message of self-acceptance is there to those who are open to it. It will require taking all our insecurities and feelings of unworthiness and letting them go. That’s hard, but it will be worth it. Then we will walk more confidently into the world, sure in the knowledge that we are God’s beloved children.