Real Women Have Curves

Movie review by
Heather Boerner, Common Sense Media
Real Women Have Curves Movie Poster Image
Smart coming-of-age drama addresses body image.
  • PG-13
  • 2002
  • 85 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 3 reviews

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Ana triumphs over her mother's constant belittling. She struggles to feel at ease in her body even though it doesn't conform to media-sanctioned ideals of thinness. She often states that there is more to her than the way she looks. Getting an education is highly valued. Family loyalty also is emphasized but not to the exclusion of self-betterment.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Ana is at times unkind to her fellow factory workers, disdaining the low-end jobs they, as adults, are stuck with. At other times, she shows more sensitivity, negotiating a loan to help her hardworking sister keep her business running. In these two extremes, Ana exemplifies the emotional growth many teenagers experience on the road from childhood to adulthood. Ana enlists her grandfather to cover for her so she can secretly see her gringo boyfriend. She buys condoms and has sex with the boyfriend, knowing her mother will mightily disapprove. After her mother forbids it, Ana musters the strength, and perhaps selfishness, to take a college scholarship in far-off New York City, 


Plenty of hand-holding, kissing, and making out. Ana loses her virginity to Jimmy, though nothing really racy is shown. Led by the overheated Ana, the female factory workers all strip to their underwear and compare body size and cellulite. Still in their undies, they dance to the radio.


One use of "f--k" and one "s--t." Carmen calls Ana a tramp and a slut in Spanish.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Ana buys a cigar for her grandfather.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 6-year-old Written bybrysong November 9, 2019

Enjoyable movie that spans worlds

I first learned about America Ferrera this weekend listening to an interview with Krista Tippett on the podcast On Being. I was so impressed, I wanted to watch... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byuvkitty September 26, 2010

sounds good to me.

at least it isn't about being thin and looking like celebrities.
Teen, 16 years old Written bytcdancer4u April 9, 2008

Great Movie

This movie has a lot of good messages such as loving youself the way you are. One scene especially when the women start compareing their bodies shows how women... Continue reading

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?

  • How does Ana demonstrate integrity in Real Women Have Curves? Why is this an important character strength?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love coming-of-age tales

Character Strengths

Find more movies that help kids build character.

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