Feels almost criminal that it was yesterday, as a 29-year-old woman, that I watched Real Women Have Curves for the first time. I have no idea how I managed to avoid it for my entire adolescence, but alas the film has finally made it into my life.
Maybe the film came at the perfect time, I’m afraid that I wouldn’t of appreciated it any sooner. Real Women Have Curves felt like the coming-of-age films that I’ve been looking for in my adult life and it also felt like everything I ran away from in my formative years. The story follows Ana, a first-generation Mexican-American who has graduated High School and is getting ready for her future. Ana struggles to decide whether she should go away to college or whether she should stay close to home and help her mother and sister in their business. The movie so beautifully captured the real struggles that many first-generation kids face; it showcased the frustration, the embarrassment and the need to be away from anything that reminded you of how different your culture was.
The film is based on a play of the same name by Josefina López, who co-authored the screenplay for the film with George LaVoo. I have yet to read the play, but I can confidently say that the film captured the nuance in Mexican family’s conversations. Lupe Ontiveros, who plays Ana’s mother (and who I genuinely struggle to see as anything other than Yolanda Saldivar #Selena) perfectly portrayed the harshness in a Mexican mother’s tone and the kindness that they so often attempt to suppress.
Not only did this film walk you through the struggles that first-generation children face, but American Ferrera led with fearless vulnerability in her portrayal of Ana. I have also stared into a mirror and picked my body apart, I have heard comments from my family, I have doubted the affection of another person because I didn’t consider myself worthy and I FINALLY felt seen when watching Ana up on my screen. This is the feminist body-positive movie that Mexican women deserve!
In a world that often tells us that we’re not important enough and to fix our bodies in order to better fit into society’s beauty standards, Real Women Have Curves allows us to walk in our truth. It gives us permission to confidently believe in ourselves, to show off our flaws, to sometimes doubt ourselves and to love ourselves as loud as we possibly can!!
Real Women Have Curves felt like home. It wrapped life lessons in an easy-to-digest bundle and I cannot wait for my niece to be old enough to watch it.