Entertainment

‘Real Women Have Curves’ Is The Body Positivity Message We Need Now More Than Ever

Shockingly, it’s been over 15 years since “Real Women Have Curves” hit the big screen, exposing the world to America Ferrera for the first time, as our Latina icon of body positivity and self-love. In a thousand ways, this film sparked real change in Hollywood and in our Latino-American culture. In a thousand other ways, from overbearing, manipulative Latina mothers to virginity as the measure of female value, it’s as if nothing has changed.

Let’s check out some unknown facts about the film and how its still offering an important lesson to young Latina women owning agency over their bodies. THe internet was still pretty new in 2002 so some of these might come as a shock.

The film is based on a play written by Josefina López.

@50playwrights / Instagram

The idea for the play didn’t come to her in an instant. It was a building fury beginning as an 18-year-old in her high school drama class when her teacher had something hard to say. In a recent interview, López shared her teacher’s response to her student’s embarrassment to wear a leotard:

“‘If you’re really serious about being an actress, you have to lose weight, because no one will ever cast you as the ingénue if you don’t lose weight.’ And I started to cry because I was always afraid to even think that I could be an actor, because I thought you had to be white, and I equated being white with being beautiful. When she told me that I cried, and then she started crying with me, and she said, “I feel so bad telling you this, because I was told the same thing. I’m not telling you this because I think you should change, but this is the way the business works. Men want to play the heroes in all the stories, so I guess women have to be thin enough to be lifted up into their arms to walk into the sunset, because men get to be the heroes of all of the stories.”

“If there are no stories about chunky girls getting laid, or being heroes, then I’m going to write those stories. “

HBO

That’s when an American classic was born. The similarities between López’s childhood and that of her protagonist, Ana García, played by America Ferrera, are poignant. Both struggle with society telling them to be ashamed of working class parents, of being dark-skinned, of being curvy, of being Latino.

There isn’t a single mention of outside society telling Ana she’s fat. It’s all from her mother, Carmen.

HBO

We have the studies today to back up López’ powerful claim that our mothers offer the most formative perception we will have of our bodies. I have never, ever, seen my own mother not be on some diet (“solo yucca because it’s mostly water”) or seen her eat a slice of flan without whispering, “ok just one bocadito,” as if anyone cared but herself.

Anyone else have a mami like that?

Their “que pesado” dynamic is relevant for all of us.

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Carmen: Straighten up, walk like a lady. Even l, in my condition, I walk like a lady.

Ana: [mockingly] *Flips hair ~17 times* *Shakes hips so silly*

Carmen: Payasito

Lupe Ontiveros won an award at Sundance for her performance of Carmen.

HBO

Ontiveros, who died in 2012, always played women we loved to hate (“Selena,” duh). Her life was truly remarkable, though. She worked as a social worker for 18 years before she started taking some extra work, which turned into a long career in Hollywood.

Ana wants to go to college, but Carmen forbids her from “breaking the family apart.”

HBO

Much later, a movie called “Lady Bird” came out that read like a white version of López’s story. The mothers are overbearing and won’t let her go to college. López spoke through tears when commenting about the differences, however.

“I also deserve a place in Hollywood and the opportunity to continue telling impactful stories. I co-wrote a better version of ‘Lady Bird’ that challenges the status quo,” she said. “I wish my film had been appreciated [the same way].”

Carmen uses the guilt tactic for casi todo to control Ana.

HBO

At first Carmen succeeds in guilt-tripping Ana from going to college because of her abuelito, but she later decides that it’s just something she has to do. Her father gives her his blessing and her abuelito tells her that she’ll always be in his heart.

Carmen, meanwhile, never even gets out of bed to tell Ana goodbye.

Meanwhile, Ana’s older sister, Estela, is fighting to keep her factory going.

HBO

She’s sewing designer dresses for Bloomingdales that sell for $600 on the rack, and is paid $18 for each. She struggles to meet deadlines and pay rent alongside the mental health effects of knowingly being exploited. Her dream is to start her own line.

After Ana asks for a small loan from their father for Estela, she designs a dress just for Ana.

HBO

At first, when Ana sees the dress, she scoffs, “Come on, you know I can’t fit into this.” Her response is everything, and since 2002, the clothing industry has changed. There are “plus size” lines in so many stores from Target to Bloomingdales.

Personal opinion: we still need to redefine what “plus size” really is, because ‘regular’ sizes leave little room for athletic builds, curves and hips that are absolutely beautiful and normal for Latinas.

Ana and America Ferrera are the same person: dreamers.

Oscars / YouTube

In a memorable Q&A on the 15 anniversary of the film’s release, Ferrera talks about how the film changed her life:

“I could have never known that at 17, being one of six children to a single Honduran immigrant mother, growing up in the Valley, where months went by where we didn’t have warm running water, or running water at all, or electricity, having this dream of being an actress, coming from where I came from. My own family, my friends, my teachers, people would say to me, ‘That’s very unlikely.’ But I, with the naïveté of a young person, had been told there was nothing I couldn’t do and I believed it.”

All summer that Ana works in her sister’s “sweat shop”, she’s secretly applying to colleges.

The mother-daughter relationship is the most important to Ana, just like us.

HBO

Her mother is always making up maladies to manipulate her family to give her attention. She even wakes Ana up one night to share her secret: she’s pregnant. When Ana tells her she’s imagining things, her mom just averts her eyes and changes the channel, in the most passive aggressive Mexican mother way possible.

But the relationship that changes her is one with white boy Jimmy.

HBO

It literally blossoms while you hear Carmen in the background talking about a telenovela where a boy tells a girl, “he didn’t care what she looked like… that he loves her, that he wants her.” Spoiler: she gets pregnant and while she’s on a bus to Rio to elope, she sticks her head out the window to say bye to her mother…and is decapitated.

Carmen: “Ana, you better listen. That’s what happens to people who don’t listen to their mother.”

For the first time, Ana confides in someone outside her family what it’s like to feel fat and ugly in her mother’s eyes.

HBO

Mamis listen up, because Carmen is pretty brutal, but most of us didn’t grow up with mothers who straight up called us fat (gordita, claro, but it was loving). Studies show that even if your mother tells you up and down how guapa you are, when children witness their own mother’s criticize their own bodies, they learn to do the same. Monkey see, monkey do.

And she lives the life she wants to live.

HBO

She’s not having sex or trying to go to college to spite her mother. Ana is reclaiming her own body and future outside of what her family expects from her.

“Real Women Have Curves” gives us the most tender love scene to date on the big screen.

HBO

This wasn’t a passionate, aggressive sex scene. This was Ana telling Jimmy to turn the lights on first, “I want you to see me. See, this is what I look like.”

“What a beauty.”

HBO

This is the story that we need more of in 2018; one that shows a young woman affirming her consciousness around her sexuality. She’s rejecting the shame that she was raised with and is intentional and thoughtful about accepting, and sharing, exactly who she is.

We never rooted so hard for a teenager to run away.

HBO

Carmen: Why didn’t you value yourself?

Ana: Because there’s more to me than what’s in between my legs!

It takes so much courage and self-awareness to not let that mierda eat you alive. Ana won’t put up with any of it and calls her mother out on her fake pregnancy. The next scene, they’re at the doctor and it’s confirmed: Carmen is going through menopause.

The most iconic scene of the whole film is revolutionary even to this day.

HBO

While back then, seeing any women strip down to their bra and underwear was edgy and scandalous, this wasn’t a sexualizing moment for the women in Estela’s factory. This was pure empowerment and validation. It’s obvious that Ana is in full ownership of her body post-sex and casually takes off her shirt because it’s too hot in the factory.

Carmen starts to shame Ana, “Look at you, you look awful,” when the women rally around her and start complaining and comparing different parts of their bodies they don’t like. In the end, they all laugh about it and decide to just work sin ropa.

Even better, Ana finds her way out of the sweat shop and into Columbia University.

HBO

While college was the answer for Ana, and the hope for those of us who idolized her in this film, the education gap for Latinos and whites has only widened since 2002. Only 22 percent of Latino Americans ages 25 to 64 held a two year college degree or higher in 2016 compared to more than 30 percent of black Americans and half of white adults.

We need to do better to make Ana’s dream a more feasible reality.

We need more real stories of Latinos that mirror our own.

HBO

We’re doing better with shows like One Day at a Time and Jane the Virgin, but telenovela obsession is in our blood.

In the 15 year anniversary interview, America Ferrera shares:

“It is so painful sometimes to think about how little has happened for Latina women in film, or just people of color, since this film, and the way that it was received. But I think what keeps me going and a lot of women and people of color going is, if we don’t break down the doors that we can break down, then we’re not doing justice to the people coming behind us.”

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All The Fun Streams Available On Netflix Starting In April

Entertainment

All The Fun Streams Available On Netflix Starting In April

Spring is officially here and sweeping in with a new bundle of shows and films to binge and watch on Netflix. From the much-anticipated adaptation of Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone series to a new David Attenborough docuseries, there are tons of shows to look forward to watching this April.

That’s right, spring into action gang, this April has a world of great streams!

April 1

  • 2012
  • Cop Out
  • Friends with Benefits
  • Insidious
  • Legally Blonde
  • Leprechaun
  • Magical Andes: Season 2
  • The Pianist
  • The Possession
  • Prank Encounters: Season 2
  • Secrets of Great British Castles: Season 1
  • Tersanjung the Movie
  • The Time Traveler’s Wife
  • Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family
  • White Boy
  • Worn Stories
  • Yes Man

April 2

  • Concrete Cowboy
  • Just Say Yes
  • Madame Claude
  • The Serpent
  • Sky High

April 3

  • Escape from Planet Earth

April 4

  • What Lies Below

April 5

  • Coded Bias
  • Family Reunion: Part 3

April 6

  • The Last Kids on Earth: Happy Apocalypse to You

April 7

  • The Big Day: Collection 2
  • Dolly Parton: A MusiCares Tribute
  • Snabba Cash
  • This Is A Robbery: The World’s Biggest Art Heist
  • The Wedding Coach

April 8

  • The Way of the Househusband

April 9

  • Have You Ever Seen Fireflies?
  • Night in Paradise
  • Thunder Force

April 10

  • The Stand-In

April 11

  • Diana: The Interview that Shook the World

April 12

  • New Gods: Nezha Reborn
  • Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn: Seasons 1-4

April 13

  • The Baker and the Beauty: Season 1
  • Mighty Express: Season 3
  • My Love: Six Stories of True Love

April 14

  • Dad Stop Embarrassing Me!
  • The Circle: Season 2
  • Law School
  • The Soul
  • Why Did You Kill Me?

April 15

  • Dark City Beneath the Beat
  • The Master
  • Ride or Die

April 16

  • Arlo the Alligator Boy
  • Ajeeb Daastaans
  • Barbie & Chelsea The Lost Birthday
  • Crimson Peak
  • Fast & Furious Spy Racers: Season 4: Mexico
  • Into the Beat
  • Rush
  • Synchronic
  • Why Are You Like This
  • The Zookeeper’s Wife

April 18

  • Luis Miguel – The Series: Season 2

April 19

  • Miss Sloane
  • PJ Masks: Season 3

April 20

  • Izzy’s Koala World: Season 2

April 21

  • Zero

April 22

  • Life in Color with David Attenborough
  • Stowaway

April 23

  • Heroes: Silence and Rock & Roll
  • Shadow and Bone
  • Tell Me When

April 27

  • August: Osage County
  • Battle of Los Angeles
  • Fatma
  • Go! Go! Cory Carson: Season 4

April 28

  • Sexify
  • Headspace Guide to Sleep

April 29

  • Things Heard & Seen
  • Yasuke

April 30

  • The Innocent
  • The Mitchells vs. The Machines
  • Pet Stars
  • The Unremarkable Juanquini: Season 2

Leaving Netflix in April

April 2

  • Honey: Rise Up and Dance

April 4

  • Backfire

April 11

  • Time Trap

April 12

  • Married at First Sight: Season 9
  • Surviving R. Kelly Part II: The Reckoning: Season 1

April 13

  • Antidote

April 14

  • Eddie Murphy: Delirious
  • The New Romantic
  • Once Upon a Time in London
  • Thor: Tales of Asgard

April 15

  • Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant

April 19

  • Carol
  • The Vatican Tapes

April 20

  • The Last Resort

April 21

  • The Great British Baking Show: Masterclass: Seasons 1-3

April 22

  • Liv and Maddie: Seasons 1-4

April 23

  • Mirror Mirror

April 24

  • Django Unchained

April 26

  • The Sapphires

April 27

  • Ghost Rider (2007)

April 27

  • The Car
  • Doom

April 28

  • Paul Blart: Mall Cop

April 30

  • 17 Again
  • Blackfish
  • Can’t Hardly Wait
  • Den of Thieves
  • How to Be a Latin Lover
  • I Am Legend
  • Jumping the Broom
  • Kingdom: Seasons 1-3
  • Knock Knock
  • Palm Trees in the Snow
  • Platoon
  • Runaway Bride
  • Snowpiercer
  • The Green Hornet
  • The Indian in the Cupboard
  • Waiting

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Latina Chef and TV Personality Alejandra Ramos Is Tired of Getting Racist, Sexist Body-Shaming Comments From Viewers

Fierce

Latina Chef and TV Personality Alejandra Ramos Is Tired of Getting Racist, Sexist Body-Shaming Comments From Viewers

Courtesy NBC News

As a woman on the planet, we’re often subject to unwanted comments about our bodies. Often, people cloak their comments in “concern”. We may be “giving people the wrong idea” or “distracting” others with the way our bodies look. And if you’re a woman of color, as TV chef Alejandra Ramos writes, this criticism is more intense.

As a woman of color, people often fetishize and other-ize our bodies. Clothing that might be appropriate and “normal” on a white body becomes downright dangerous on yours. This is especially true if you are more curvaceous.

On Tueday, chef and TODAY show contributor Alejandra Ramos wrote an emotional piece venting her frustration at the body-shaming comments viewers make about her body.

The comments Alejandra Ramos receives often have both sexual and racialized undertones. After a successful TODAY show segment where Ramos presented a fun recipe on sheet pancakes, her feelings of accomplishment were quickly dampened by negative feedback she got about the way her body looks on camera.

“I’m sure NBC execs were frowning during the segment,” someone tweeted at her. “Suggest you wear more appropriate attire next time you appear on a U.S. channel, especially when you appear on a premiere show like Today. I want to see more of your recipes on air with a little less of your figure.”

And this hateful comment was just one of many racist, body-shaming comments that Alejandra Ramos received from disgruntled viewers.

Ramos received a myriad of other racist, body-shaming criticisms about her appearance. “You are not working in Spanish television where women’s fashion is more revealing than American,” said another person. “Do we have to look at your body?” wrote someone else.

The issue, apparently, was the dress that Ramos was wearing: a flowing, citrus-orange A-line dress with a V-neck that revealed some of her décolletage.

These criticisms stand out because they have overt racist and sexist undertones. These critics highlighted the fact that Alejandra Ramos was other–a Latina in a white space.

“The real issue was that, as a vibrant, curvy, Latina woman, I was thriving and being celebrated in a space that rarely makes room for people who look like me,” wrote Ramos on a powerful op-ed for TODAY.

Ramos explained in her op-ed that people have made negative, racialized comments about her body not only throughout her career, but throughout her life.

“I was always darker, curvier, chubbier and frizzier than everyone else around me,” she explained. By the time she was 11-years-old, adults were making negative comments about her body, sexualizing her, telling her to “cover up”.

“Sometimes the comments do come from a good place, however misguided”, Ramos wrote, “but more often than not, they’re words of control and racism.”

“Styles, outfits and body shapes that are praised and celebrated on white bodies are judged differently on people of color.”

Ramos revealed that a white, thinner friend of hers wore an almost identical dress to hers in a different cooking segment and got none of the body-hate that Ramos did.

Luckily, instead of withering under the criticism, Ramos is using it as an opportunity to thrive. By showing up in her curvaceous, Latina body with pride, Ramos is showing other women and young girls of color that their bodies are normal and worthy.

“To the woman who wrote to me after my segment: I know that kids are watching — and I’m glad they are,” she concluded her op-ed. “I hope many of them are girls like I once was, and that seeing me on TV makes them realize that no matter what anyone says to them, they are good and valued and worthy of anything they dream of.”

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com