I can’t stop dancing to Amy Schumer’s One Direction parody

The sign of a good parody is when it’s just as enjoyable as the thing it’s mocking, while also making a point about that thing. Which means that, in my book, Amy Schumer’s parody of pop songs about how women are beautiful just the way they are but-kinda-not-really is really, really good. This damn song has been stuck in my head for days.

And now, every time I sit down to put on some makeup, I end up singing this song to myself.

This video gets everything right: the sound of the song (cow bell!), the choreography, adoooorable playfulness of the boys as they mess around with makeup they don’t wear but insist women put on, and, above all, the thinness of the “you’re beautiful just the way you are” pop song, which is so often build around the idea that a woman’s attractiveness still hinges on a man vouching for it, or worse, on her insecurity about her appearance. As I wrote about “What Makes You Beautiful,” the 1-D song this parody is modeled on,

She’s insecure, and that’s why she’s so attractive? No. Not cool. Not sweet. Not charming. Creepy.

Look, I understand the whole “you don’t know how gorgeous you are so I’m going to tell you” pop song thing. Bruno Mars did it with “Just the Way You Are” and that is a perfectly serviceable pop song, fake vinyl hissing aside.

But this song takes that message a step further. It’s not just that he likes her just the way she is. It’s not just that sees in her a beauty that she doesn’t see herself. It’s that she has low self-esteem – and he’s telling her that her low self-esteem is what makes her so attractive to him.

This parody lays that dynamic bare; by the end, Schumer feels even worse about herself, as the guys have realized just how much makeup she was wearing before and are horrified by her bare human face. And it digs at one of the things that pisses me off most about men who insist they prefer it when women don’t wear a lot of makeup: what they actually mean is they like women who don’t appear to wear a lot of makeup, but who look flawless anyway. So, women who invest time, money, and energy into “natural” looking makeup, or women who just roll out of bed looking like a Victoria’s Secret model. Option a) is expensive, time consuming. Option b) is physically impossible.

I’ve long harboured the suspicion that when straight men say they like women who don’t wear a lot of makeup, what they actually like are women who don’t look like they’re wearing a lot of makeup, who perform the “natural beauty” thing really well. Like Schumer, I suspect that, if confronted with a woman who actually wasn’t wearing makeup, they’d be less than thrilled at the sight – and in this case, they sing and dance about how not-thrilled they are. One of the symptoms of living in a world in which feminism has made considerable but far from sufficient in-roads into smashing patriarchy is that women are still expected to conform to strict standards of beauty, but are expected to conceal the effort required to do that. One corollary to this is that we, as a culture, express disdain for women who make that effort visible, which I think is what’s at the core of, say, tabloid headlines about celebrities who get bad (that is to say, obvious) plastic surgery. It’s also what feeds the frequent expressions of men’s preferences for women who don’t wear a lot of makeup.

Then again, it resulted in this awesome song. So it’s a wash, really.

New York, NY

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia. She joined the Feministing team in 2009. Her writing about politics and popular culture has been published in The Atlantic, The Guardian, New York magazine, Reuters, The LA Times and many other outlets in the US, Australia, UK, and France. She makes regular appearances on radio and television in the US and Australia. She has an AB in Sociology from Princeton University and a PhD in Arts and Media from the University of New South Wales. Her academic work focuses on Hollywood romantic comedies; her doctoral thesis was about how the genre depicts gender, sex, and power, and grew out of a series she wrote for Feministing, the Feministing Rom Com Review. Chloe is a Senior Facilitator at The OpEd Project and a Senior Advisor to The Harry Potter Alliance. You can read more of her writing at

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia.

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