Real Women Have Curves
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Ana loses her virginity to her boyfriend. The couple is shown naked together in his bedroom (though nothing really racy is shown). Ana also lies to her parents to go on dates and encourages her coworkers to strip to their underwear at work. Her mother constantly insults her weight and calls her a slut in Spanish. Ana struggles with pleasing her family, growing up, and following her dreams, all in an environment in which poverty makes it very hard to get ahead.
What's the story?
Ana Garcia (America Ferrera), the youngest daughter of an L.A. Mexican-American family, has just graduated from Beverly Hills High School and wants to go to Columbia University and date the sweet but dorky Jimmy (Brian Sites). But her mother, Carmen (Lupe Ontiveros), is determined to marry Ana off, have a grandchild, and install Ana at the local sweatshop so she can finally retire. Ana clashes with her traditional mom, rolling her eyes at her mother's insistence that she lose weight to meet a boy and makes snide, belittling comments about her mother's beliefs and life. "How dare anyone tell me what I should look like or how I should be when there's so much more to me than just my weight," Ana announces. When Ana storms out of the sweatshop, Carmen races after her and collapses. "Are you embarrassed of me?" Carmen asks. Can Ana parse her values -- contraception, education, loving herself for who she is -- with her mother's conservative values? Can the two generations come to understand each other as Ana threatens to leave the nest for good?
Is it any good?
REAL WOMEN HAVE CURVES is a welcome addition to the great pantheon of teen heroine movies. Like Pretty in Pink, this film encourages young girls to follow their dreams and rewards them with both the boy and scholastic success. And like the warmly human Quinceanera, it shows a teenage girl who isn't white, rich, and pampered. This isn't The O.C. or Laguna Beach -- and thank heaven for that.
Ana's teen angst has a profound purpose. She's trying to learn to love herself in a world where the dresses she irons are for people far smaller than her and will be sold for far more than she could afford. These clashes make for encounters that would be familiar to the parents of most teenagers. In the end, the film's heavy-handed monologues -- presumably a remnant of the film's life as a stage play -- are tempered by Ferrera's compassionate and earnest performance.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about how body image is shaped by the movies that you see. How do you feel about how you look? Has your body image affected how you feel about getting into relationships? Especially for teenage girls, this film is a great opportunity to talk about how they cope with the stress of growing up and becoming independent while also caring about their families.