I recently revisited one of my all-time favorite movies starring the lovely leading lady America Ferrera, Real Women Have Curves. I was first introduced to this film back in high school, summer of my sophomore year, by an older cousin. She recommended the film, hinting that I should be confident about my body, that my curves were something worth celebrating and embracing.
As a teen, I struggled with body image issues that continued into my adulthood. It didn’t matter if I was a size 10 or a size 22, I couldn’t see the beauty reflected in the mirror.
It was pleasure to see this film again with a fresh set of eyes. I take away more from the film at age 27 than I did at 15. That’s perfectly fine, but I do wish I would have started my journey to accepting my body in all its glorious splendor at an earlier age; it would have made a world of difference to me. At times, I would beat myself up about it. But, this is my journey and reaching this level of confidence is not easy. No one is perfect and there’s beauty in that; it makes us unique.
Here are the six lessons I took from Real Women Have Curves:
1. Eat the Flan-Ana defiantly eats the delicious Mexican flan that her mom says will make her fatter. She tells Ana, she would look so beautiful if she lost weight. Ana’s stand-off with her mother rings truth to a woman’s personal choice regarding her health and meal choices. I say, “Eat the flan girl!” You are allowed to enjoy this and you shouldn’t feel guilty. Often, people who are fat, chubby, and curvy or however you define yourself, are ridiculed by family and strangers when eating at home or in public. There’s the stares, the giggles, and the “You’re still hungry?” comments. So, what? We are not privy to other people’s medical history, nor should we be. These are conversations that happen between the individual and their nutritionist or physician. Mental note though, watch out for personal judgements and biases by those in the health professions. While they may have good intentions, there are many stories about bullying or harassment from physicians.
2. Pretty Dresses Aren’t Just For Skinny Girls-Ana’s older sister, Estela, fashions a beautiful dress especially made for Ana. Ana stated earlier in the film that she admired the dresses they made in the atelier so much, but realized they weren’t meant for her, or more poignantly, they’re not meant for fat girls. If you love the dress, try it on, buy it, and rock it! There are many plus-size lines emerging with mad style like Monif C., Torrid, Shop Majour, Nadia for Boohoo Plus, Target’s Ava & Viv, Zelie for She, Swimsuitsforall, Ashely Graham’s lingerie line with Addition Elle. Tons and tons of fresh and fab designs by Rue 107, Charlotte Rouse+, Voluptuous Inc., and so many other fashion lines. The fashion industry is taking note and making these fashionable pieces available to the curvy girl.
3. Embrace Your Body-Ana makes a powerful move by showing her boyfriend, Jimmy, her naked body, full frontal with the lights on. “See, this is what I look like,” says Ana. By no means am I demanding that you strip yourself of clothing and do exactly what Ana did, but there’s empowerment in seeing your body. You can stand in front of a mirror, your body in all its voluptuous splendor, and really take a look at the beauty in your curves. Some women find empowerment in a boudoir photo shoot or strutting on the beach in a new bikini, but whatever the choice, do it at your comfort level and when it feels right for you. Remember that this your body, your choice.
4. Form a Community of Women-Cheer on your curvy sister just as much as your skinny girlfriend! Ana decides to take off her clothes since it is so hot and sticky at the atelier. Her mother gasps, offended by such actions. Ana points out to her mother, “it’s just us ama!” Her sister Estela, and the other two seamstresses soon follow thereafter, unashamed to show their stretchmark’s, cellulite, and lonjas. They feel comfortable with each other and cheer each other on, poking fun at themselves, but quick to complement their curvy sister. Positive reinforcement at its best. Who you surround yourself with is paramount. People who are overly judgmental and critical of others just might be talking about you behind your back chica. It’s the whole Queen Bee and Wannabes of high school. That crap is so petty. Instead, surround yourself with women who are like you. That doesn’t mean they have to be curvy or yield to your every opinion, but form a community of women that uplifts each other, not a catty group that brings you down. Start an online blog or community, join a support group, read articles, watch movies about positive body image, tweet, and retweet; use the tools at your disposal to get the word out that fat is fabulous! Take back the word! I’ve mentioned before that there are many plus-size fashion and lifestyle bloggers that are spearheading the fat girl movement. #fatgirlsheretostay
5. Walk With Confidence, That’s the Best Outfit-So there is much hate and criticism spewed on Ana by her mother, Carmen, but there is some good advice. Ana took what her mother said and either tossed it out, true to form, or redefined its value. When her mother criticized Ana for walking sluggish like a pig, she also told Ana to “walk like a lady.” What does that mean? Well, for Ana, at the end of the film, it meant walking with confidence. It doesn’t matter if you’re a size 2 or 22, the energy you exude is what makes you radiate with beauty. You better work it girl! Whatever you wear, love it and own it!
6. All Women are Real Women-I struggle a bit with the title of this film. However, its message is empowering for curvy women. I read it as, real women are also women who have curves. I see it as inclusive rather than exclusive, and I think ultimately that’s what the filmmakers were driving at. So, while real women have curves, real women are also slender, skinny, small butt, no butt, fat, flabby, short, tall, you name it. There are many body types and we shouldn’t restrict ourselves with these labels. I am fat, fabulous, curvy, fiery, inspired, radiant, vocal, demanding, and curious, all in a lovely package. You, my lovely luscious lady friend, are real and your opinion matters.
xoxo Chica Rosita