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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that in Real Women Have Curves, 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. Profanity includes one "f--k" and one "s--t." 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.
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What's the story?
In REAL WOMEN HAVE CURVES, 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?
This 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 Quinceañera, it shows a teenage girl who isn't white, rich, and pampered.
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 she is and that will be sold for far more than she can afford. These clashes make for encounters that will be familiar to the parents of most teenagers. In the end, the heavy-handed monologues in Real Women Have Curves -- presumably a remnant of the film's life as a stage play -- are tempered by Ferrera's compassionate and earnest performance.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how body image is shaped by the movies you see and in Real Women Have Curves specifically. How do you feel about how you look?
Do you feel pressure to look a certain way? If so, where does that pressure come from?
How can teens learn to appreciate themselves for who they are rather than what they look like?
- In theaters: November 8, 2002
- On DVD or streaming: April 22, 2003
- Cast: America Ferrera, Ingrid Oliu, Lupe Ontiveros
- Director: Patricia Cardoso
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Drama
- Character strengths: Integrity
- Run time: 85 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sexual content and some language.
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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