On the last day of school at Beverly Hills
High School, the graduating students are excitedly sharing their plans for college—except
for Ana (America Ferrera). Despite her good grades, her hard work, and her dreams of
better life, Ana doesn’t see college as an option. Her parents say they can’t afford
tuition—and besides, Ana’s older sister, Estela (Ingrid Oliu) needs help in her dress
factory, and Ana’s first responsibility is to her family.
So Ana goes to
work—ironing dresses all day in the sweltering hot factory. She watches her sister
struggle to pay the bills while making just a few dollars for dresses that boutiques sell
for hundreds. And she endures the torment of her mother, Carmen (Lupe Ontiveros), who
makes outrageous demands and criticizes Ana’s bigger-than-a-Victoria’s-Secret-model size
(though Carmen isn’t all that thin herself).
One of Ana’s teachers, Mr.
Guzman (George Lopez), encourages her to pursue her dreams and fill out an application to
Columbia University. Although her mother repeatedly tells her that a woman’s job is to
work hard all her life, get married, and raise children, Ana secretly fills out the
application. And, at the same time, she sneaks out at night to see Jimmy (Brian Sites),
a kid from school, who likes her for who she is—no matter what her
In a way, Ana is like a modern-day Hispanic-American Cinderella,
living in the poor part of town in Southern California. Just as Cinderella dreamed about
a better life and a handsome prince, Ana dreams of a college education and a life of her
own. Both are held back by their family—Cinderella by her evil stepmother, who forces
her to live like a servant in her own home, and Ana by her mother, who tries to destroy
Ana’s self-image as well as her dreams of getting beyond the traditional
Hispanic-American female roles.
For Cinderella, hope comes in the form
of a fairy godmother. Ana’s hope comes from Mr. Guzman, who believes in her, and from
Jimmy, who doesn’t care about her size. And, most importantly, Ana’s hope comes from
herself. She has to find the strength within herself to stand up to her culture’s
traditional roles—as well as to the American standards for women—and become what
she wants to be.
Real Women Have Curves is a fun movie with
a powerful and uplifting message about being yourself and following your dreams. I can’t
imagine anyone watching this film without feeling inspired and refreshed in the end.
Though there are a few small holes in the story—I still highly recommend it. It’s a
great pick-me-up movie—one that will leave you with a smile on your face and a little bit
of warmth in your heart.