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:: Real Women Have Curves

In the days of tabloid celebrities Renee Zellweger, Calista Flockhart and the like, it is rare to see fat rolls, stretch marks or cellulite in any type of media. So it is refreshing to see all three, not only shown but also celebrated on the big screen. Real Women Have curves is the debut feature from director Patricia Cardoso, who along with being a fundamental part of the Sundance Film Festival for many years, also won the Student Oscar for her short film The Water Carrier.
Real Women have Curves opens with eighteen-year-old Ana (America Ferrera) facing her last day of high school. After excelling at Beverly Hills High School and with a supportive English Teacher (George Lopez) who has connections at Colombia University, Ana seemingly has the world at her feet. All she has to do is get past her mother Carmen (Lupe Ontiveros)

At the behest of Carmen, Ana’s sister Estela (Ingrid Oliu) has been working since the age of 15, honing her sewing skills, regretting her excess weight and lamenting the lack of a husband. Ana is desperate to avoid this fate, but after quitting her after school job is forced to work in Estela’s sewing factory for the summer that is under threat of closure due to demanding distributors and the demands itself of the craft of dressmaking.

A far cry from the women who purchase their dresses at Bloomingdale’s, the women at Estela’s factory sweat out their days with no creature comforts except each other’s gossip. They earn $17 per dress and are never going to be able to afford to buy them for their retail price of $500 or fit into their Sizes.

As Ana comes to terms with the realities of the work that her mother and sister do, day in and day out, her mother refuses to come to terms with the reality of Ana’s life which is not a desire to be thin, to marry herself off as soon as possible and to give little or no consideration to the improvement of her mind. As university and a life beyond working in the factory beckons, the Ana faces the ultimate decision to go and live her own life and potentially lose her family forever or stay and live the life chosen for her.

Real Women have curves is refreshing in both it’s subject matter and in the portrayal of its characters. As far from the troubled teenager Hollywood would have you believe is the norm, Ana has her head screwed on, her values in the right place and her wants or desires within reach. She is a teenager coping with the normal exigencies of life such as grappling with self-identity and family, rather than being a teenager coping with being a teenager. Some of the dialogue between Ana and her mother is at times poorly written, but overall, this is overcome by some laugh out loud scenes and some truly touching moments.