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Ashley Graham, Real Women Have CurvesReal Women Have Curves
Real Women Have Curves (2002) is an American comedy-drama film that takes place in East Los Angeles. It gained fame after winning the Audience Award for best dramatic film, and the Special Jury Prize for acting in the 2002 Sundance Film Festival. The film went on to receive the Youth Jury Award at the San Sebastian International Film Festival, the Humanitas Prize, the Imagen Award at the Imagen Foundation Awards, and Special Recognition by the National Board of Review. The film was directed by Patricia Cardoso, and stars a young America Ferrera as protagonist Ana García. The film is based on a play (of the same title) written by Josefina Lopez, who co-authored the screenplay for the film with producer George LaVoo. According to the Sundance Institute, the film gives a voice to young women who are struggling to love themselves and find respect in the United States.
Ashley Graham as Ana Garcia
Ana García struggles to fulfill her dream of going to college while considering family duty, and a tough economic situation. The thought of Ana going to college torments Ana’s mother, Carmen, because she wants to keep her family together. Carmen also wants Ana to help work in the family owned textile factory, run by Ana’s sister Estela. The factory itself is in danger of closing; Estela cannot afford to make the rent and pay her employees. Although Ana does consent to spend sweaty summer days working in the factory, she spends her nights writing her college entrance essay for Columbia University and sneaking out to see her American boyfriend Jimmy. Ana defies Carmen (her mother) and applies to college, despite warnings against such behavior. As the summer goes by Ana grows into a confident woman through experiences with Jimmy, and positive self-affirmation. She challenges cultural and socioeconomic boundaries, in favor of a life independent from her family. Despite the warnings of her critical mother, Ana gains support from her sister and father to pursue success beyond the borders of East Los Angeles.
The movie begins in a Hispanic neighborhood in Los Angeles. An old woman is standing at her front gate, singing enthusiastically. The camera brings us into the living room of home on the same street. Estela (Ingrid Oliu) trying to convince her younger sister, Ana (America Ferrera) to go look after their mother Carmen (Lupe Ontiveros). Carmen is moaning and groaning in bed, looking quite ill.
Ana rolls her eyes and goes inside her parents’ bedroom. Carmen asks Ana to come nearer, whispering that she needs Ana to cook for the family that day. Ana erupts and says she absolutely refuses to miss her last day of high school and stomps out of the room. Moments later, Carmen gets out of bed and is apparently quite alright.
Ana catches 2 buses to get to her Beverly Hills high school. At the end of the day, her teacher asks her to consider applying to colleges. Ana explains that her family won’t be able to afford it, and remarking that “it’s too late anyway”. Her teacher says no – he knows the dean of admissions at Columbia University and could possibly have her application looked at, even if it is past the deadline. Ana tells him she’ll think about it.
That night, Ana’s family throws her a little party to celebrate the end of her high school years. Soon though, the festivities turn to well-worn topics: Her mother tells Ana not to eat too much cake because she is too fat, and the need for Ana to get married and have children. Ana’s grandfather and father tries to diffuse the situation, so her mother and Estela start discussing the family factory – a very small run-down dressmaking warehouse that Estela runs, and Carmen works at. Carmen tells Ana that it’s time she started working at the factory. Estela protests, saying there isn’t enough to pay Ana. Carmen insists, saying it’s time Ana starts working for the family, no matter how little money she gets paid. Ana wants to do something else, but doesn’t have a job. At that moment, her high school teacher arrives at the house, and asks to talk to Ana’s parents about the possibilities of Ana going to college. Ana’s mother is resolute, saying that there is absolutely not way Ana will go away. Carmen says Ana belongs at home and that’s the end of the story. Ana’s father seems open to the idea, but does not say anything in the face of his wife’s strong stance. He does assure Ana’s teacher that he will think about it.
Later, Ana tries to convince Estela to face down the executive in charge of her clothing line to grant her an advance so she can keep the factory running. The woman refuses, and instead Ana convinces her father to give Estela a small loan after Ana sees how hard Estela works to produce clothing she is proud of. Meanwhile, Ana works with Mr. Guzman to produce an essay for her application to Columbia University in New York.
Ana develops a relationship which becomes sexual with Jimmy, a boy from her high school who thinks that people in the United States have it too easy, because everything is given to them. Carmen confronts Ana about her sexual activities, and Ana insists that she as a person is more than what is between her legs. Later, at the factory, all of the women working there except Carmen grow exhausted of the heat and Carmen’s critiques of their bodies and strip down to their underwear, comparing body shapes, stretch marks, and cellulite, inspiring confidence in one another’s bodies. Carmen leaves the factory in a huff over her family and co-worker’s lack of shame as Ana declares that they are women and this is who they are.
Mr. Guzman comes by the house to inform Ana and her family that Ana has been accepted to Columbia with a scholarship opportunity, though it would mean moving across the country from Los Angeles to New York City. At first, Carmen convinces the Ana and the rest of the family that her place is in L.A. with her family, but eventually Ana decides that she needs more out of her life and her father agrees to support her. At the end of the film, Ana is dropped off at the airport by her father and her loving abuelo, and the final scenes show her striding confidently through the streets of New York.
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