The movie, I Feel Pretty, does not come out until Friday, but Schumer faced an immediate backlash after the first trailer was released in February. Viewers believed that Schumer’s character Renee, a woman with low self-esteem who hits her head and suddenly sees herself as beautiful, is already pretty and only continues to perpetuate poor body image.
Schumer says the movie actually sends a positive message about women’s bodies, which is clear in the full film.
“There’s been a lot of projection,” the actress, 36, told Vulture. “I heard a lot of, ‘She doesn’t have a right to feel bad about herself because she looks however she looks.’ But first off, it’s not about an ugly troll becoming beautiful, it’s about a woman who has low self-esteem finding some. Everyone’s got a right to feel that feeling, regardless of their appearance. We all struggle with self-esteem. I certainly have … it’s not our place to say who should be allowed to have low self-esteem.”
Schumer says much of the criticism is also incorrect, because they believe that Renee wakes up and sees herself as skinny, but that’s not actually the case.
“I heard the comment, ‘Why does she have to think of herself as skinny?’ a lot. But you never see how I see myself! That’s a guess, that Renee thinks of herself as skinny,” Schumer said. “In the scene after the head injury, the assumption is that the woman I see when I look in the mirror is skinny, but I’m just seeing my same self and perceiving my body as beautiful. She doesn’t say, ‘I’m so thin!’ She just says that she’s amazed by her jawline, and her boobs and her ass. If anything, that sounds like a more voluptuous woman to me.”
Schumer adds that the overall message is more that everyone has body image struggles, something she herself can relate to.
“I have become a rich and famous person, and I am no happier now than I was when I was waiting tables. That’s the truth,” she said. “… To me, that’s a little comforting and a little depressing. Happiness can’t start with external stuff, whether that’s money or success or your body.”
Schumer’s costar, Aidy Bryant, also spoke out against the backlash in March, after a follower reached out on Instagram to question the message of the movie.
“I encourage you to see the film,” Bryant, 30, wrote. “I’m very proud to be in a movie tells the story of someone who believes confidence is directly tied to looks but learns that confidence comes from within. It’s a movie I wish I could have seen when I was 14.”
The Saturday Night Live star added that I Feel Pretty meets the body positive standards she looks for in a movie.
“Through my short time in this industry I have been sent all kinds of demeaning scripts where my body is the punchline,” she said. “I choose my projects carefully with exactly these things in mind. Change cannot happen over night and this movie is a step in the right direction.”