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Getting attention in Hollywood has always required innovation. Circa 2006, it meant forgetting to wear underwear and doing an acrobatic split in order to exit a limousine. Today, it means Instagramming some act of cultural appropriation or being Madonna. But Amy Schumer has consistently found another way.
Not to say Schumer is chaste or hyper-moral -- she is awesomely perverted and politically incorrect. Her value as a role model comes from the shamelessness with which she embraces her body and her sexuality. As Meghan O'Keefe wrote at The Guardian, "Schumer's comedy straddles the line between what is expected of a woman in a man's world, and who Amy Schumer wants to be."
Think about all the times she has made headlines over the past year, be it with an irreverent sketch or a gloriously on-point speech. Today, it's for winning a Peabody Award for "Inside Amy Schumer" and ranking among the Time 100. Earlier this week, it was with her brilliant parody of booty anthems -- a masters-thesis-worthy counterpoint to the consistent sexualization of individual female body parts in pop culture, advertising and music. Schumer boiled the ass obsession down to the simple reminder that butts "are where your poop comes out."
That "Milk Milk Lemonade" video was a teaser for the upcoming season of "Inside Amy Schumer," though Schumer also sends up such feminist ideas outside of promoting her series.
Consider her response to the fat-shaming troll who reviewed the trailer for "Trainwreck," Schumer's highly anticipated summer flick, by saying there was "no way she'd be an object of heated romantic interest in the real world." There is no point in arguing over whether Schumer has a gorgeous figure (though she does [Hi Amy, if you're reading this, you're pretty and I love you so much]). The real issue is that there are still people in the world who seem to think that women exist primarily for male consumption. Schumer responded to the ignorant comment by posting a photo of herself with the caption: "I am a size 6 and have no plans of changing." In a single tweet, she proved she was proud of her body, and that the only person who needs to think Amy Schumer is sexy is Amy Schumer.
Just like the booty anthem, her body-loving tweet was deceptively simple. And Schumer's thoughts on body-shaming are not confined to A+ social media shade-throwing. For evidence, consult her powerful speech about body confidence at the Ms. Foundation for Women gala back in May of 2014.
"I am a woman with thoughts and questions and shit to say. I say if I'm beautiful. I say if I'm strong. You will not determine my story -- I will," she said. "I am not who I sleep with. I am not my weight. I am not my mother. I am myself. And I am all of you, and I thank you." (Read the whole thing over at Vulture, if you haven't. It's a masterpiece.)
In Hollywood, where superficial considerations are highly-valued, Schumer is a celebrity whose fame rests on the merits of her intellect. She consistently asserts her worth as a comedian and as a woman. She embraces her sexuality. She is proud of her body. She uses her fame to bring something positive into the world. Her work is celebrity feminism in action. As we (slowly) emerge from conflating the F-word with "bra-burning man-hatred," more and more celebrities are identifying as feminists, but Schumer is actually doing something about it. She is the kind of person who truly deserves our attention, and anyone who doesn't like it can kiss the place where her poop comes out.
Follow Lauren Duca on Twitter: @laurenduca