In this year alone, Amy Schumer has had a box office smash, won an Emmy, and hosted Saturday Night Live to glowing reviews. Despite all her accomplishments, however, Schumer has apparently been grappling with serious insecurities about her body and how she dresses it.
“It’s been a struggle for me my whole life,” Schumer told the Today Show’s Maria Shriver. She added that figuring out what to wear, specifically, has been a stressor. “Standing on a stage in front of people, I can’t perform my best or be confident if I’m not sure—if I’m pulling at something. And sometimes, I would just want to kind of throw in the towel and be like, ‘I’m not gonna go do stand-up tonight.’ ”
Schumer said both she and her sister have always dressed poorly—that she lacks the “chip” others have to dress well. This has apparently been compounded by body image issues, and also trouble finding the right fit amid stores’ inconsistent sizing. But Trainwreck stylist Leesa Evans helped change that by giving Schumer some fashion pointers, showing Schumer how to dress her body and feel comfortable in her own skin. Now, Schumer aims to give that confidence to every woman by coordinating with Goodwill Industries to organize Stylefund and cohost a style empowerment workshop, inspiring women to feel empowered and inspired by fashion no matter what their body type is.
These are noble goals, and Schumer should be applauded for them. But the necessity for this is also a pretty damning statement about how we define and interact with the term “confidence.”
“Dressing for success” is not a new concept—especially for women: To follow fashion magazines’ advice, hair should be sleek, nails should be polished, makeup should be done but not too done, and clothing should be stylish—reserved but not frumpy—and tailored to perfection. These are not “rules,” but “tools” to help build “confidence,” all in the interest of being perceived as capable and professional.
Why do we so often equate outward polish with inward self assurance? Why is spending time, money and energy fussing over cosmetic appearance considered “confidence,” while feeling serenely swaddled in sweatpants is seen as giving up? As long as this is the case, efforts like Schumer’s are both welcome and necessary. But this might be a good time to stop and think about how much emphasis we place on how women look—even in professional settings. If even the brilliant Amy Schumer has been reduced to tears at the thought that her body and the way she dresses it aren’t good enough, we have a problem.