The new Amy Schumer film I Feel Pretty may be about a cisgender straight woman dealing with her own self-esteem issues, but there’s a lesson that everyone can take away from it, especially gay men and the LGBTQ community.
The message of I Feel Pretty is pretty clear from the beginning, almost obnoxiously so. The film centers its narrative around the female experience of dealing with these issues.
Near the end of the film (don’t worry — no big spoilers here), Schumer’s character, Renee, explains that when women are little girls, they’re confident. But too often, as they grow older, they lose that confidence as society makes them feel ‘less than.’
And that message of the new Amy Schumer film is something that holds true for many queer people, too.
Many LGBTQs remember being completely free in their self-representation as young kids. That confidence often gets limited in adolescence when we’re deemed “different” and “other.” Coming to terms with that “otherness” is often a long, complicated process fraught with painful milestones.
And after we finally come out, as gay men our own community tells us we still don’t measure up.
Not because of our sexuality this time, but because of our chubby bodies, our feminine qualities, a small penis. We diminish our otherness by flocking to our own community, only to find new guidelines of what is acceptable there. Maybe it’s because we were void of that innate sense of self-confidence Schumer speaks about children having. And so as adults we resort to childish ways of bullying and belittling to make ourselves feel better.
This can all take a toll on anyone’s self-esteem. In a world where worth is often measured in likes and followers, self-confidence is becoming harder to build. But changing the bully is hard, so the change needs to come from within us.
My good friend Greg doesn’t have a muscular body. He doesn’t make that much money, either, and he doesn’t have a huge dick. But at gay social gatherings his energy is positive and he’s the center of attention. He makes everyone around him feel better about themselves, mostly because he feels so good about himself. He leaves a room a little better than how he found it.
And that’s something we should all aspire to be. Leaving I Feel Pretty, I was inspired to work on my own character flaws and defects, and none of that included better abs or a better wardrobe. We need to combat the bullying in our own community by working ourselves towards more acceptance of others — and ultimately more acceptance of ourselves, exactly the way we are.
I Feel Pretty may not be a great film, but it’s worth a trip to the theater with your besties if you’re in need of an energy boost. I woke up the next day inspired to be the best version of myself possible, not because I want to lift myself up to the standards of others but because I have lifted the standards I hold of myself.
If I had the opportunity to speak to my 6-year-old self, I would say, “You’re enough.” But before I can hand out such an enlightened mantra, I have to look into the mirror and say it there first.