'I Feel Pretty' is Not a Feminist Anthem.
Obviously, the woman behind the biting and satirical comedy Inside Amy Schumer has more to say than this...
The beauty industry is worth $382 billion with women spending thousands on cosmetics, skincare, and various beauty treatments. It seems at the age of puberty, girls are prepped to invest in their appearances more than boys, a reality highlighted in marketing campaigns catering to anti-aging products and various ads using young women to model products to older, more mature and financially stable women. Beauty is quite literally capital, a source of value and esteem only amassed through transactions—that is when defined in terms of political and social capital.
In the Amy Schumer-led comedy I Feel Pretty, Schumer and writers Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein try to show what real beauty looks like when its unedited, unfiltered, raw and emblematic of genuine, self-found confidence. Keyword: try. Schumer, I will say, is better than this.
There is no point in detailing the synopsis of the film; plenty of critics have already provided the rudimentary plot points that best describe this wannabe feminist-Trainwreck-Princess Diaries-hybrid. Unfortunately, the film is a TV dinner offering of pop feminism where Schumer plays a size-10 woman named Renee who desperately wants to be beautiful—which I Feel Pretty defines as any woman who's a size 0 in 9-inch heels.
She bumps her head and, wallah (!), she believes herself to be beautiful. The problem comes in at this point, where again, I Feel Pretty shows just how shallow its convictions are: Being beautiful means men are more eager to objectify you; feeling beautiful means you get to have an attitude, albeit a cute one because, you know, pretty people can get away with it; being beautiful is a feat on its own and means you can have very uninspired aspirations such as working as a secretary (who's hired because she represents a common, cheap, bargain shopper). The signals this movie send start to overlap, causing a very jumbled core belief: Are we saying that women will always participate in a commercial performance of beauty, that we are indeed defined by our anti-aging creams and mascaras?
Obviously, the woman behind the biting and satirical comedy Inside Amy Schumer has more to say than this, so it's especially aggravating to see the potential of a feminist discussion—something this film had a lot of room to play with—succumb to lazy writing. Schumer, still a charming act in her own right, can barely keep the movie afloat. It drags in its own muddled credo, a feel-good rom-com that supports the very notions feminism is actively trying to dismantle. We shouldn't preach that a $30 blush will make you look like Emily Ratajkowski if you really believe in yourself and Lily LeClair Cosmetics (the whitest sounding fictional company ever).
Supporting acts Michelle Williams—a baby-voiced CEO named Avery who can't be taken seriously—and Rory Scovel—Renee's nice guy love interest—are both a delight to watch; their characters resemble a type of wholesome archetype in traditional early summer rom-coms. But the message is a jolting reminder that if we are going to make mainstream art under the guise of feminism, at least let the message be clear and precise: Women will be alright with or without Lily Leclair's "diffusion" cosmetic line.
Shaun Harris is a poet, freelance writer, and editor published in avant-garde, feminist journals. Lover of warm-toned makeup palettes, psych-rock, and Hilton Als. Her work has allowed her to copyedit and curate content for various poetry organizations in the NYC area.
POP⚡ DUST | Read More…
- 'I Feel Pretty' Backlash: Why the Amy Schumer Rom-Com Got ... ›
- Amy Schumer's 'I Feel Pretty' Is a Failed Feminist Fable: Review ... ›
- 'I Feel Pretty' Review: Amy Schumer's Body-Image Satire – Variety ›
- I Feel Pretty Movie Review & Film Summary (2018) | Roger Ebert ›
- I Feel Pretty (2018) - Rotten Tomatoes ›
- Review: 'I Feel Pretty' Doesn't Even Go Skin Deep - The New York ... ›
Plus celebrities react to Nigerian protests.
Young people across Nigeria have been pouring into the streets for the last two weeks to protest police brutality, specifically the controversial special police force known as the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
Tension came to a head on Tuesday when armed forces fired on protestors in Lagos, the biggest city in Nigeria, who were out past the state-mandated curfew. According to AP News, "Police also fired tear gas at one point, and smoke could be seen billowing from several areas in the city's center. Two private TV stations were forced off the air at least temporarily as their offices were burned."
Not all non-binary people prefer gender-neutral pronouns.
October 21, 2020 marks the third annual International Pronouns Day.
Created by an independent board and first observed in 2018, it's one of those small commemorative holidays that trends on Twitter in hopes of drawing attention to a pressing social issue, like International Women's Day (March 8th) or the ever so serious National Taco Day (October 4).
But Pronouns Day in particular "seeks to make respecting, sharing, and educating about personal pronouns commonplace." The organization's website further describes, "Referring to people by the pronouns they determine for themselves is basic to human dignity. Being referred to by the wrong pronouns particularly affects transgender and gender nonconforming people. Together, we can transform society to celebrate people's multiple, intersecting identities."
But in the words of nonbinary activist and Trevor Project's Head of Advocacy and Government Afairs, Sam Brenton, "Pronouns are hard." Never before have pronouns been scrutinized as closely as they are in 2019 for their power to (in)validate or accurately describe something as fluid as gender identity. In fact, it was only this year that the Merriam-Webster Dictionary expanded the definition of "they" "to refer to a single person whose gender identity is nonbinary" (thus codifying a long history in English language of using "they" to refer to a singular non-gendered entity).
‘Everyone has the responsibility to be respectful.’ — The @TrevorProject’s Sam Brinton is explaining why pronouns a… https://t.co/pMMO8KRvBR— NowThis (@NowThis)1571253180.0
But throwing an additional wrench in the works is the fact that not all non-binary people prefer gender-neutral pronouns.
Take me, for instance: Despite having female biology, I couldn't pass a lie detector test saying I'm a "woman." But my pragmatic, Puritan family is still endearingly confused by the idea of "liberal arts," let alone the notion of gender fluidity. And I'd rather share a communal language with them than do the emotional and mental labor of re-orienting their worldview for them. Plus, I have the privilege of passing as female without feeling too, too, terribly dysphoric (which non-binary people can definitely suffer from, despite not identifying as trans).
But enough about me, look at Queer Eye's beloved Jonathan Van Ness. While he's been outspoken about being genderqueer, gay, and HIV positive, he prefers he/him pronouns. "The older I get, the more I think that I'm nonbinary," Van Ness said. "I'm gender nonconforming. Like, some days I feel like a man, but then other days I feel like a woman." As he told Out magazine, he doesn't identify as a man, but he does prefer "he/him/his" pronouns. In his view, those pronouns don't detract from or contradict his non-binary identity, because gender is not about simple binaries between masculine and feminine identifiers. "Any opportunity I have to break down stereotypes of the binary, I am down for it, I'm here for it," he said. "I think that a lot of times gender is used to separate and divide. It's this social construct that I don't really feel like I fit into the way I used to."
On the other hand, last month non-binary singer Sam Smith announced that their preferred pronouns are "they/them." Smith posted to Instagram, "I've decided I am changing my pronouns to THEY/THEM ❤ after a lifetime of being at war with my gender I've decided to embrace myself for who I am, inside and out." People like Smith and Trevor Project's Sam Brenton simply feel more validated, seen, heard, and true to themselves with gender-neutral pronouns. Smith wrote, "I'm so excited and privileged to be surrounded by people that support me in this decision but I've been very nervous about announcing this because I care too much about what people think but f*ck it!"
Most importantly, as pretty much every non-binary person and activist is aware, changing cultural norms is hard. While LGBTQ+ activism is inspired and passionate and dedicated to expanding human rights to all gender identities, we all know that changing society's entire understanding of gender and pronoun usage is about slowly opening minds. As Smith wrote, "I understand there will be many mistakes and mis gendering but all I ask is you please please try. I hope you can see me like I see myself now. Thank you." Happy Pronouns Day to you/him/her/they/(f)aer/zim.