The day I fell in love with Amy Schumer, I was preparing my Intro to Psychology lecture about gender. I was searching YouTube for clever clips that I could use, when I came across a video called “Inside Amy Schumer – Last F**kable Day”. The main character, Amy Schumer, comes across her “heroes” — Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tina Fey, and Patricia Arquette — having a picnic. It turns out, the women are celebrating Julia’s so-called “Last F**kable Day.”
Julia explains, “In every actress’ life, the media decides when you finally reach the point where you’re not believably f**kable anymore.” Amy asks how you know when you’ve reached that point, and the actresses take turns providing examples, such as “the poster for your movie is just like a picture of a kitchen”, or, “you go to wardrobe, and the only thing they have for you to wear are long sweaters, like cover-you-up head to toe kind of thing”.
The actresses burst out laughing when Amy asks, “Well what about men? Like who tells men when it’s their last f**kable day?” Of course, “men don’t have that day.”
I fell in love with Amy Schumer instantly. The five-minute sketch is jam-packed with criticisms of the entertainment industry and gender double-standards, perfectly packaged in smart humor and wit (go watch it!). How often do you come across something like that on YouTube?
Next, I typed “Inside Amy Schumer” into the search box. Perhaps this sketch was a one-off kind of thing?
Well, I must have been living under a rock, because it turns out that Amy Schumer is insanely successful (especially these days, with her Emmy win and book deal) and most of her sketches poke fun at serious gender issues in a hilariously clever way.
Some of my favourite sketches are “A Very Realistic Military Game” (about rape and stigma in the military), “Milk Milk Lemonade” (depicting the absurdity of hip-hop music videos a la Nicki Minaj), “POV Porn” (showing how depressing porn looks from a woman’s perspective), and “Compliments” (about women’s tendency to self-criticize).
Amy does have a tendency to be self-deprecating in her humor, particularly when it comes to body image. That’s something that doesn’t sit well with me, but from what I’ve seen so far, her body-positive moments far outweigh her moments of self-criticism.
For example, at Glamour’s Women of the Year Awards, she said, “I’m not going to apologize for who I am, and I’m going to actually love the skin that I’m in. And I’m not going to be striving for some other version of myself.” Swoon.
We need more women like Amy Schumer: powerful, vocal, body-positive women who are unapologetically themselves and fight against the absurd, archaic-yet-persistent biases that affect women both inside and outside the entertainment industry.
If you haven’t seen her magic yet, you’ve got some catching up to do!
Jessica Alleva is a post-doctoral researcher at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. Her research focuses on interventions for improving body image. She is also passionate about research on the impact of media and sexual objectification on body image.
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