Synopsis by Mark Deming
In this independent drama, Ana (America Ferrera) is a bright and ambitious 18-year-old Latina who has just graduated from high school in East Los Angeles. Ana wants to broaden her horizons and go on to college, but her mother Carmen (Lupe Ontiveros) has other ideas; Ana's older sister Estela (Ingrid Oliu) oversees the family business, a dress factory, and Carmen has decided that Ana should put higher education on hold and go to work as a seamstress. When Estela loses four employees in a week, Ana reluctantly agrees to take a job at the factory to help her out, while she applies for college scholarships without her mother's knowledge. Ana's job at the dress factory proves to be a real eye opener; she gains a new respect for Estela's business acumen, but is also appalled by the low wages and unpleasant working conditions that are part and parcel of the garment industry. While Ana is not unattractive, she carries more than a few extra pounds, a subject her mother mentions at every available opportunity, and as Ana encourages her co-workers at the shop to stand up for themselves and gain a greater perspective of their own worth, she takes a long hard look at her own self-image. Real Women Have Curves won the Audience Award at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival, while actresses America Ferrera and Lupe Ontiveros received a Special Jury Prize at the same festival for their performances.
body-image, factory, family-business, labor-issues, mother, seamstress, college