Real Women Have Curves (2002) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • This is the story of Ana, a first generation Mexican-American teenager on the verge of becoming a woman. She lives in the predominately Latino community of East Los Angeles. Freshly graduated from high school, Ana receives a full scholarship to Columbia University. Her very traditional, old-world parents feel that now is the time for Ana to help provide for the family, not the time for college. Torn between her mainstream ambitions and her cultural heritage she agrees to work with her mother at her sister's downtown LA sewing factory. Over the summer she learns to admire the hardworking team of women who teach her solidarity and teamwork. Still at odds with what her mother expects of her, Ana realizes that leaving home to continue her education is essential to finding her place proudly in the world as an American and Chicana.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • Coming of Age story of a first generation Latina Ana García (America Ferrera) who struggles to balance her family's culture where she is expected to work in her sister's dress warehouse, find a husband, and have children while forgetting her dreams of a college education. However, one of her high-school teachers tries to convince her parents to give her an opportunity and send her to a university. Her mother Carmen (Lupe Ontiveros) refuses point blank. She alleges that her other sister, Estela (Ingrid Oliu), is a spinster and she'll never marry, so it's Ana's task to give her grandchildren.

    Ana starts working at Estela's dress factory. First, she doesn't make much of an effort. The work is hard, but Estela is nice to all her employees, especially Pancha and Rosali (Soledad St Hilaire and Lourdes Pérez), which are good, fun, hard-working ladies. Ana is in charge of ironing the dresses and putting them onto hangers after they had already been made. She sweats a lot so she decides to take off her t-shirt and work in her bra and snickers. Almost all the workers follow suit in a hilarious moment, while Carmen almost loses it.

    Ana realizes that Estela sells her dresses to the department store for little compensation while the department store sells it for a much higher price. It comes a moment when the new collection is not finished, and Estela cannot afford to pay the rent of her factory. They talk to their business contact of the department store, Mrs. Glass (Marlene Forte) who refuses to give them some of the payment in advance. Mrs. Glass is a business woman of Latin origin who offered the job to Estela's factory to help her out in the first place, but has to be tough if she wants to succeed herself. Ana then asks her father (Jorge Cervera Jr) for the money, saying that she never knew Estela worked so hard.

    Ana's has a high-school love interest who seems to be attached to her even when school is over, Jimmy (Brian Sites). Fearing that her mother would disapprove, Ana hides her relationship with Jimmy. Ana's grandfather (Felipe de Alba) agrees to help her. They are supposed to go for a stroll together, but when they turn the corner, each goes separate ways. Ana goes to meet with Jimmy.

    Estela finally finishes her collection and sells it to Mrs Glass on time. She is then able to repay the loan. She also makes a special dress for Ana: a red party-dress.

    Ana and Jimmy meet several times, and they look very much in love. Ana and Jimmy kiss, and on another occasion they have sex together. After a seemingly strong relationship, Ana is not attached to Jimmy, and so it ends there.

    Ana decides to give her final step towards independence: she receives a grant to Columbia University in New York. She tells her family when she makes the decision to go, but this time, to Ana's surprise, her father supports her. Her mother gets in a frenzy of hers, blaming the saints, and when Ana moves out, locks herself in her own room, refusing to give Ana her blessing. Ana's father takes her to the airport in his old truck. Ana leaves sadly, looking back at her house. This marks Ana's refusal to comply with her supposed role in the Latino culture as a submissive woman. At this point, Jimmy is the least of her priorities. The rest of the family says goodbye to her, and Estela agrees with Ana's decision.

    In the last scene, Ana walks down a New York avenue on her own. Time has passed, and Ana confidently struts down the street.

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