I’ve just watched a few scenes from Real Women Have Curves. From the title and marketing, it’s about normal healthy-sized women accepting their inner beauty, which is a great message. It’s also about a Latino girl (Ana) coming of age and having to choose between her scholarship to Columbia and letting her mother to pressure her into working in the family sweatshop.
But from the very few scenes I’ve watched, what leaps off the screen is the mother’s jealousy of her daughter. The mother needs Ana to help her around the house. It’s not fair that Ana wastes her time doing schoolwork while the mother works. Ana needs to lose weight and worry about her looks. Ana’s failure to learn sewing, child-rearing and “how to take care of a husband” is going to be her undoing. If Ana has demonstrates knowledge of sexual things, she won’t land a husband because “a man wants a virgin”. Right now, the mother is claiming to be pregnant in order to guilt Ana into helping her out. If I’m guessing right, the mother is going through menopause, not pregnancy, which will only deepen her jealousy toward her daughter.
This is a topic I like to see visited on screen, because it’s certainly one I’ve seen in real life enough times. IMDB commentors talk about how the movie examines the truth behind Latino stereotypes, but it’s hardly limited to that culture. Jealousy is one of many reasons women try to make sure no other woman breaks out of the status quo. Interestingly, Ana’s father wants to see her get an education and fulfill her potential – she can always marry later.