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Real Women Have Curves

About the Film
Year Released: 
Running Time: 

Curves on a blossoming young woman can be sexy, but not if you are told you have too many of them. Real Women Have Curves is a humorous and warmhearted look at a Mexican American teenage girl coming of age in a boiling cauldron of cultural expectations, class constrictions, family duty, and her own personal aspirations. In this auspicious debut, Patricia Cardoso gives us a cast of characters we very rarely see - working class Latina woman - with refreshing human complexity.

Ana, a first generation Mexican American teenager living in East Los Angeles, has just graduated from high school. Because she is a talented writer, a caring teacher urges her to apply to college. Ana secretly is excited about the possibility, tubu her overbearing and hyper-critical mother, Carmen, insists that it is time for her to help provide for the family by working in her sister's sewing factory, it seems as if Ana's fate is unhappily sealed, but her indomitable will to reach beyond a sweatshop life eventually leads her to burst, defiant and resplendent, through every restriction on her life.

America Ferrara and Lupe Ontiveros are wonderful as Ana and her mom as they deal with all of the unexpected curves life throws at them. Based on the play by Josephina Lopez, which is rooted in her own experience, Real Women Have Curves gives a fresh new voice to the yearnings of Chicana women struggling against insecurities to love themselves and find respect in the world.

Shari Frilot, 2002 Sundance Film Festival. 

Poster Image: 
Film Director: 
Production Info
Reported or Estimated Budget: 
Los Angeles
Categories About the Film
coming of age
coming of age
interracial relations
urban life
Racial/Ethnic Affiliation: 
Latin American
Filmmaking Team
Writer's Name: 
Josefina Lopez and Geroge LaVoo
George LaVoo and Effie T. Brown
Jim Denault
Primary Cast: 
America Ferrera, Lupe Ontiveros, Ingrid Olui, Brian Sites, George Cavera Jr.
Exhibition/Distribution Info
HBO Films
Box Office Earnings: 
Where to find it/How to get it: 
DVD widely available

2002 Audience Award, Sundance Film Festival

2002 Special Jury Prize, Sundance Film Festival

2002 Grand Jury Prize, Sundance Film Festival

2002 Humanitas Prize, Sundance Film Category

2002 USA Special Recognition for Excellence in Film Making, National Board of Review

2002 Youth Jury Award, San Sebastian International Film Festival

2003 Producers Award, Independent Spirit Awards

2003, Best Supporting Actress, Imagen Foundation Awards

Personal Film Review and Cultural Context: 

Real Women Have Curves offers a rare look at the life of a young Latina as she strives to establish her own path and individuality within the context of her loving, but overbearing family. Ana is a star student but never thought that college was an option, but when the opportunity presents itself, her mother would rather she join the family business working in her sisters dress shop. Ana must also deal with some personal insecurities and it doesn’t help that her mother keeps calling her fat. In her break through performance, America Ferrera effortlessly depicts the intimate moments along Ana’s journey, giving us an appreciation for Ana’s Courage and resilience in the pathway of opposition. The spirited tone of this honest and authentic film will have you walking away enthused and ready to take on the world.

Marissa Allyn Jackson

Bryn Mawr College Class of 2014