The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo
Perhaps surprisingly, Amy Schumer’s first book offers up bounteous amounts of earnestness and encouragement.
Amy uses her voice to inspire women to be confident badasses. As the author, she never lets her readers down; she maintains a heartening undertone throughout the book. Admirably, Schumer takes on a forthright, yet tender, approach to sharing her life stories. Her work serves as a pick-me-up and leaves readers cheerful, even during the most dispiriting of anecdotes.
It’s well known that Schumer uses her public platform to speak loudly about social issues of importance to her, but her views are not always relatable and occasionally create a holier-than-thou persona. The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo may serve as more than just an autobiographical piece for the comedian, but also as an attempt to strengthen the relationship she has with her audience. This book promotes readers to see that Schumer is a down-to-earth, honest, and empathetic human being.
Understandably shocking to some, the chapter titled “I am an Introvert” creates an atmosphere of vulnerability as readers are invited to get to know Amy on a more intimate level:
Being an introvert doesn’t mean you’re shy. It means you enjoy being alone. Not just enjoy it – you need it. If you’re a true introvert, other people are basically energy vampires. You don’t hate them; you just have to be strategic about when you expose yourself to them – like the sun. They give you life, sure, but they can also burn you and you will get that wrinkly Long Island cleavage I’ve always been afraid of getting and that I know I now have. For me, meditation and headphones on the subway have been my sunscreen, protecting me from the hell that is other people.
The entertainer’s thoughtful exploration of introversion gracefully extends throughout the chapter:
It wasn’t until I became best friends with some fellow comics and performers that I realized being an introvert wasn’t a character flaw. Even when we all go on vacations or on the road together, we take little breaks in our own rooms and then text each other to check in. This quality is tricky when your job actually requires you to constantly travel and interact with new faces, new towns, and new audiences. You cross paths with lots of people in this line of work, and you feel shitty if you don’t give away some of your energy and conversation to every driver, hotel front-desk clerk, promoter, backstage crew member, member of the audience, waiter, and so on. And I do mean “give away.” Energy is finite between recharges.
True to the nature of the rest of her book, Schumer encourages fellow introverts to take the alone time they need: “So if you’re an introvert like me, especially a female introvert, or a person who is expected to give away your energy to everyone else on the reg, I want to encourage you to find time to be alone. Don’t be afraid to excuse yourself. Recharge for as long as you need. Lean up against a tree and take a break from the other bears. I’ll be there too, but I promise not to bother you.
Whether she is aware of it or not, Amy connects deeply with her readers as she displays intense vulnerability: “The saddest realization I’ve had in my life is that my parents are people. Sad, human people. I aged a decade in that moment.”
The performer continually reveals her intelligence and thoughtfulness as she shares simple truths throughout her book. She understands that most people don’t expect or fully understand when moments of emotional growth will occur during the course of his/her life, but it is the reflection of those moments that matters: “I became a woman because I did, for the first time, what I was supposed to be doing for the rest of my life. I may not have had that exact thought in the moment, but in retrospect it is so clear to me.”
As Amy describes the time she and her younger sister, Kim, were caught shoplifting, readers may find themselves feeling more compassion for the two of them than the judgemental, narrow-minded individuals who caught them. Perhaps “right” isn’t always right:
And in the end, getting caught at Bloomingdale’s really corrected my game. After all, the hustle I’m honing isn’t about shoplifting or lying or winning friends with horrible heists gone wrong. And it’s definitely not about grabbing what belongs to someone else just to make myself feel more powerful. It’s about being my own best advocate and knowing how to take what I deserve in life without bringing anyone else down. It’s about making my sister laugh when we are both in deep shit.
The comedian makes sure to keep the laughs flowing, particularly when she details her appreciation for her former employers who overlooked her lack of skills and hired her based on confidence and bravado alone. It’s clear that Schumer understands how to strike a balance between being humorous and compassionate:
One of the things I’ve learned as a boss myself now is to have high expectations of people, but also to keep it realistic. You can’t expect someone to work past their potential. If you’ve hired someone with the mathematical aptitude of a pet rock, and she eats all your hot dogs and doesn’t know how to make change, try to figure out how and where she shines, and let her excel in that area instead. I try to be patient and forgiving with the people I hire, just as they are with me. Mutual respect… . I always think of that goldfish quote often attributed to Einstein: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Let that goldfish go someplace where it can join a school – and then hire an actual climber instead.
The strength of The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo lies within the writer's effort to make every woman realize her potential, power, and worth:
So much has changed about me since I was that confident, happy girl in high school. In the years since then, I’ve experienced a lot of desperation and self-doubt, but in a way, I’ve come full circle. I know my worth. I embrace my power. I say if I’m beautiful. I say if I’m strong. You will not determine my story. I will. I’ll speak and share and fuck and love, and I will never apologize for it. I am amazing for you, not because of you. 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.
The level of realism achieved in this book is admirable. The influential stand-up comedian proves that she has more to offer than a dirty joke or two. Amy demonstrates sensitivity and depth while striving to empower her readers to be fearless, confident creatures: “When your fears come true, you realize they weren’t as bad as you thought. As it turns out, the fear is more painful than the insult.” She certainly hits the nail on the head with that one.