I Feel Pretty Pissed
Today I went to see I Feel Pretty. The film wasn’t perfect, but I had a jolly time. I laughed when it was funny, and cried when it was heartbreaking and true. I related to the film in many ways, and left the cinema feeling good about myself. When I came home, I looked up its critical reception. I told myself I was doing it out of interest – when really, I knew what I’d find. And that it would make me angry.
The film was heavily criticised, which isn’t surprising given it has a female lead who isn’t there simply to be a sex object for men (see similar responses to A Wrinkle in Time and Tomb Raider). I read a few reviews and wondered if the writers had watched the whole film – not because I disagreed with their opinion, but because their take of the film felt so inaccurate. Some made me wonder if the reviewer had simply watched the trailer, or the first hour. Some of the comments were also quite troubling, such as:
‘This movie [is] premised on the idea that self-esteem trumps physical beauty’.
To me, this comment implies that the reverse might be true; that there is an argument against self-esteem trumping physical beauty. This is a destructive, toxic, and unfortunately common mindset. I used to think along the same lines, and I’m far, far happier now I’ve seen through this great lie.
Amy Schumer is also analysed and judged to an inch of her life. She’s too pretty; she’s not funny… Basically, she can’t win. Like most women, she comes under much stronger scrutiny than her male counterparts.
Yes, the film has flaws (as all films do) and can certainly be criticised*, but the criticism is grossly enlarged, revealing how many people cannot accept women who don’t meet male-defined standards of beauty, women who dare to challenge said standards, or anything that is designed to empower women and make them feel good about themselves (whether the film is successful is irrelevant; it’s the intention that counts here).
Now, I know it’s easy to attack genuine criticism with the accusation of sexism. However, compare I Feel Pretty to the recent Avengers film, which is riddled with flaws. Avengers was received positively. It is no coincidence that Infinity War is filled, for the most part, with a bunch of heterosexual white men flexing their muscles and getting/rescuing/escaping from their girl.
We’re making progress, but we still have a long way to go.