"I Feel Pretty" | A Review on Body Acceptance
Marilyn and I watched I Feel Pretty in theaters this past Sunday after noticing all the publicity for the movie on social media and the news. I admit I started out a little skeptical when I first saw the preview: I found it disturbing that the main character, Renee Bennett, had to get knocked on the head and suffer from delusion in order to see herself as beautiful. But the movie aimed to communicate some great messages about self-love and acceptance by the end.
Without giving away any spoilers, I do want to warn that this movie might be triggering for some viewers, such as anyone currently struggling with body dysmorphia and/or an eating disorder. Most of the women in Renee’s world are models, and the female characters all throughout the movie are portrayed in rather black-and-white terms: they are either thin and glamorous, or plain and fat. Most of the women portrayed as visually "perfect" had vacant, oblivious personalities. Realistically, we all live in a world where there are many different shapes and sizes in between. Yes, even in spin class. And we come across a wide range of personalities from people, regardless of their body size!
There were some underlying messages, though, that were significant to the concept of body positivity. Even when Renee believes she has magically been blessed with a new figure, she aspires to a new role in the cosmetics company that is actually beneath her qualifications, simply to be seen. Renee’s priorities shift with her new identity, and she loses touch with who she is, inside. I appreciated this aspect of the film because when we allow our physical appearance to define us and put all our energy into aesthetics over personal growth, we tend to disconnect from our individual needs. Our emotional needs are abandoned to serve someone else's standards, and we often stop listening to our bodies.
Beauty is not the image that you see in the mirror, Spanx or no Spanx. It isn’t in the clothes you wear or the ability to keep up with the Joneses. "Beautiful" is having the courage to show up for yourself because you know you deserve the same chances as everyone else. Beautiful is fighting for your happiness, indulging in your own personal truths, and accepting the imperfections that make you, you. I do applaud the movie for promoting these kinds of ideas through Renee’s journey and, ultimately, her epiphany. She delivers a monologue towards the end of the film that any woman's inner, carefree child would love to embrace.
"I Feel Pretty" was a fun movie, with many moments that had us busting out laughing because they were very human, relatable moments. It was blatantly honest about body shaming and the struggle to appease society's perfect picture of what women "should" look like. How more powerful would it be, though, to follow the story of a woman who learned to love herself without suffering a concussion? Or what if, rather than suddenly seeing a distorted view of her appearance, she instead saw everyone around her was already beautiful, just as they were? What if she began to sit with her own vulnerabilities to remember what it is that makes her truly amazing? That is the story for which we advocate in our practice. The story in which you get to be the main character in your life, and you work towards greater health while embracing the imperfections. So, be your own hero, and love yourself as you would, your best friend!