Dumplin’ is one of the latest movies to come out on Netflix and it is an amazing body-positive coming of age story. It is a movie based on the 2015 young-adult novel by Julie Murphy that follows the story of a plus-size teenage-girl named Willowdean Dickson, also known as Dumplin’, as she struggles through high school, her teenage years, having an ex “beauty queen” mother, and the loss of her aunt, Lucy. She is a Dolly Parton obsessed teen that chooses to rebel against the culture of beauty pageants and its ideals that promote thinness as the sole beauty standard. As a former beauty queen, her mother is not only involved in this world, but she is also famous in it, which causes strain in their relationship. I thoroughly enjoyed Dumplin’ and its vast array of characters. Like her equally Dolly Parton obsessed, kind and supportive best friend, Ellen; the bubbly, upbeat, super positive sunshine-like, Millie; and the tough and cool self-proclaimed feminist, Hannah, to name a few.
When we try to promote body-positivity in real life we aren’t “promoting unhealthy lifestyles”, like so many people claim in social media nowadays every time the issue comes up. We are simply saying that we shouldn’t marginalize or belittle other people based on their weight and that we should accept that people come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and we shouldn’t try to force everyone into a single idealized mold. We see how this affects Willowdean so much in her everyday life – she often has to deal with rude and hurtful comments about her weight from people in school and looks of disbelief when she meets her mother’s friends or colleagues wherever she is introduced as her daughter, as if no one could believe that such a perfect and skinny woman like former Miss Teen Bluebonnet 1991, Rosie Dickson could have a daughter that looks like her. It also comes up when her sweet, good looking coworker, Bo, confesses his feelings for her and asks her out, her reaction was one of shock and disbelief. She couldn’t believe that someone as good looking as him could be in love with someone that looks like her. That is exactly the message this movie is trying to convey.
The movie tackles the ideal that being skinny and fit should be the ultimate goal for every woman and girl and completely crushes it with an empowering message via the journey of Willowdean and her friends through their protest within the pageant circuit. The movie shows real character growth as well with all its main characters and expands on the life of her aunt Lucy throughout the plot. We even get a cute makeover montage and a drag show. This movie touches on such important topics and it is so funny and entertaining, that it really is worth a watch. It truly is “the revolution in heels”.