I feel more than just pretty

By Karyn Spory,
Mt. Pleasant News


I feel...

Inspired. Confident. Happy. Secure. At peace.

Two weeks ago I ventured back to my alma mater, the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, to see my college friend, Angela. We originally met on a bench outside of our senior seminar class on the third floor of Lang Hall. She asked me how I did on our last quiz and that was it, we?ve been a part of each other?s lives since that moment. This time we didn?t meet on that bench on the third floor, we met where we spent most of our time as electronic media majors ? the basement editing bays. If turning 29 this month (today actually!) hasn?t made me feel old, seeing that our major has changed sure did. It?s now digital media. But in the six years since graduation that?s not the only thing that has changed, its safe to say we both have, and I believe for the better.

When I arrived at UNI, I was a bit out of sorts; unsure of who I was and where I fit into the world. I thought a clean start, at a university where I didn?t know anyone would force me to figure out my identity without any outside forces reminding me of the person I was in high school ? someone who was very insecure with herself.

During our visit to Cedar Falls, Angela and I decided to watch Amy Schumer?s new movie, ?I Feel Pretty.? I was a little hesitant to go. I had been excited for the movie when I first saw the previews, but after reading a few reviews online, I was fearful it would just be another makeover movie, much like what was popular when I was in middle school and high school. I should have had more faith in Schumer.

The premise of the movie, for those who haven?t heard, is that Renee (played by Schumer), an insecure woman, hits her head during a soul cycle class and sees herself as a supermodel. Her confidence blossoms to match her new (imagined) looks and soon she goes from working in a basement office doing IT work for Lily LeClair, a beauty company with a chic Fifth Avenue office, to becoming a receptionist.

Wait, what? Yes, she ditches her well paying job to answer phones, but also to become ?the face? of the company, the first person you see and interact with at this beauty conglomerate.

The reviews I read before seeing the movie were not flattering. Their authors say the movie is vain and ?doesn?t even go skin deep? (New York Times). Reviews have issue with Renee being an above average looking woman, that she never goes through any kind of makeover. And we never see what Schumer?s character sees when she looks in the mirror; Renee looks exactly like the Renee we met at the start of the movie. There is also the issue that her one goal is to become a receptionist.

But as Angela and I walked through the darkened parking lot to my car after the movie, I stopped and turned to my friend. ?They just didn?t get it,? I said of the movie reviewers.

At one point or another in my life, I felt the exact same way as Schumer?s character ? never quite seen and never quite enough. There was the scene where she comes home after a day at work, strips down to her bra and spanks and just examines herself, noting every flaw that she sees. ?Me too, girl,? a woman in the theater called out. Me too, indeed.

Two years ago I decided to take better care of myself, starting with losing some weight. Over the course of the past two years, however, it?s become about much more than losing weight. I stopped weighing myself for a while because with a healthier diet and regular exercise I was just feeling better. My skin looked better, I had more energy and I just became a happier person. And when I was happier I became more confident, more at peace with myself.

I did manage to hit my goal weight, 170 pounds. That happened on Monday, actually. Two full years after I set the goal. And on Tuesday I was in a fitting room, trying on an outfit and still critiquing my appearance. ?Well, I can?t wear anything like this until I loose a little more around my belly,? I thought.

I?m sure the woman in the stall next to me thought I was coo-koo when I said, outloud, ?Good God Karyn, get ahold of yourself.?

In an interview with Broadly, Schumer says of the movie, ?It?s not about a homely troll who gets pretty, it?s about a woman who feels invisible and really struggles with her self-esteem and that?s something we can all relate to.? I know I sure can.

For Renee, becoming a receptionist was about being seen, being told that she was pretty enough to be the first face people see as they come into this chic beauty company. But she didn?t get the job because she was supermodel beautiful. It?s because of how confident she was.

In the interview with Broadly, Schumer says the development team was adamant that no one see the ?supermodel? version of Renee. ?It was really important to all of us that it was just me and there was no change because that?s the whole point of the movie, that nothing actually changed.?

And for me, that was the message of the movie, you don?t have to change how other people see you, you have to change how you see yourself. And for those of us who have a hard time looking in the mirror and not pointing out all the flaws remember to treat yourself like you would your best friend. Love yourself like you love your best friend because girl, you are beautiful and wonderful just the way you are.