Real Women Have Curves
© 2004 by Raymond Weschler
An 18 year old Mexican-American high school student who lives in
Los Angeles with her working class family, who must decide between working in
her sisters clothing factory or going to study at Columbia University in New York.
Anas very conservative mother, who thinks Ana should
stay and help the family rather than go to New York.
Anas older sister, who owns a small clothing company that is struggling to survive.
Mr. Guzman..............George Lopez
Anas high school English teacher who tries to convince
her she will have a much better future if she goes to college.
A sweet boy with whom Ana becomes romantically involved.
Raul....................Jeorge Cevera Junior
Anas father, who is a gardener.
This film is the story of Ana, a smart and pretty but somewhat overweight Mexican-American
high school student who lives in Los Angeles with her financially struggling family.
Ana dreams of going to college in order to improve her life, but her parents want her
to stay home and work in her sisters small clothing factory, which is barely surviving
by making very pretty dresses. Anas teacher, Mr. Guzman, has convinced her that a better
life awaits her if she goes to college, and because he is convinced of how smart she is,
he even arranges for Ana to be accepted by Columbia University in New York, which is one
of the best schools in the country.
Ultimately, Ana must decide between what her very traditional Mexican mother wants her
to do, and what she knows would be best for her future. And in facing this dilemma,
Ana must deal with a problem that so many first generation Americans must face, which
is how to balance the conflicting cultural values of the American middle class with
"the old-world values" that their parents still have. Indeed, from the Hispanic
neighborhoods of Los Angeles to the Chinese neighborhoods of New York, this type of
conflict can be seen everyday.
A note on the language used in this film: Since the story is about a Mexican-American
teenager and her family, some of the dialog is in Spanish. When this happens, I have chosen
to explain key words that are printed out in the subtitled English. A "[TS]," which stands
for Translated Spanish, is used after those sentences in the word glossary below.
Some Words and Expressions that You May not Know
As high school ends, Ana agrees to go to work in Estelas factory
in order to help the family make the money they need to survive.
I woke up in the middle of the night, soaking wet.
If a person is "soaking wet," they are totally wet
("To soak" in water is to pass time covered by it).
An important word for a person who does not appreciate what they are given.
OK, seven years at MIT.
A common way of referring to the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology, which is one of the best universities in the world.
Ill backpack through Europe.
"To backpack" through a country is to travel through it while carrying all
your possessions in a backpack, which is a container for holding things as you walk.
Ana, hang on a minute.
A common way of telling a person to wait.
Whats happening with the college applications?
"College applications" are forms that are filled out by a person who is
hoping to attend a college in the future (They ask for such information
as your personal and educational background ).
What do you mean, not going to college?! Youre a smart
woman, you have something to contribute to this world!
Note that "What do you mean?" is often placed before the exact words of a listener,
for the speaker to show they disapprove of what has just been said. "To contribute"
is to create or offer something of value.
My family cant afford college. :: There are scholarships, grants,
financial aid, all that stuff weve been talking about all year.
"Scholarships" and "grants" are gifts of money that help students pay for
school while doing their studies. "Financial aid" is the same thing, except
that it is usually in the form of a loan that eventually needs to be paid back.
"Stuff" is a very general word that refers to things in general.
Heres your uniform. :: Just give me my check, ok?
A "uniform" is a set of clothes that are worn by people of a
particular group, such as those that work at a specific restaurant.
You can always just kiss my ass to get your job back.
In this context, "to kiss a persons ass" is a crude way of saying
to beg them, or to act in a very subservient or overly nice way, in
order to get them to agree to do something.
Papa, I cant afford any more help. :: That takes care of that.
Here, if Estela "cant afford any more help," she doesnt have the money to
pay more workers. "That takes care of that" is an interesting way of saying
that given what was just said, there is nothing more to discuss.
Fine, Ill pay her. :: She can iron.
Here, "fine" means OK. "To iron" clothes means to
get rid of the wrinkles by rubbing a hot metal iron over them.
End of discussion, Senor.
This is Carmens way of saying there is nothing more to talk about
since they have already decided (Senor is the Spanish word for Sir).
We have already discussed that amongst our family.
"Amongst," which is more commonly said without the t (among),
means within the group of, or between the members of.
She got herself into Beverly Hills High School, which
is not easy to do, and now she can go even further.
Beverly Hills is one of the richest areas in Los Angeles (and even the entire
United Sates), and thus the local high school is considered one of the best.
Mr. Guzman, tomorrow morning she goes to the factory to sew with us.
A place where clothes and other products are assembled or put together.
With Mr. Guzman pushing her forward, Jimmy talking about Europe
and the factory work so hard, Ana reconsiders her future.
I told you!
A widely used way of telling a person that what
you had said or predicted earlier is in fact true.
I can teach her to raise her kids and take care of her husband [TS]
"To raise" children is to take care of them as they grow older.
Youre so dramatic, just like Ana.
If a person is "dramatic," they are acting in a very emotional
and noticeable way, perhaps like an actor on stage in a play.
Im nothing like mom. :: Whatever you say.
When said with a certain tone of voice, this is a skeptical way of
saying "I dont believe you, but I dont feel like arguing about it."
Youll never fit into that one. Its a size seven.
If you "fit into" an article of clothing, its the right size.
I only tell you for your own good. Look at you---
enormous. They must weigh 10 kilos each.
To tell a person something "for their own good" is to tell them something
they probably need to know even if they dont want to hear it. "Enormous"
means extremely big or huge. A "kilo" is a unit of weight in the metric
system which equals a little more than two pounds in the US.
You looked so fancy. I hardly recognized you.
In this case, a nice word for pretty and super well dressed.
My fiancée brought over this dress.
The person to whom you will soon get married.
Theres no better dressing than meat on bones.
This is Estelas way of saying that girls should not try to be so skinny,
even though it is in fashion (Dressing could be like salad dressing, and
in this case, meat is fat or muscle).
I had a meeting with a supplier, but thats none of your business.
In business, a "supplier" is a person or company that supplies or provides
the goods that your company needs to do its business. If something is "none
of your business," the speaker is saying that is personal or private information
and they do not want to tell you.
This is an overlock that makes hems. Shes a pro.
An "overlock" machine is a type of sewing machine and a "hem" is a the raised
border or edge of a piece of cloth. If a person is a "pro," they are very good
at what they do (This is a short way of saying professional).
She really gets upset. Youd think it was her baby.
A powerful adjective meaning angry, worried or emotionally troubled.
And this is Rosali, the troublemaker.
A good word for a person who is always causing problems for others.
Come on, let me show you your job.
The most versatile and widely used phrasal verb
in English, in this case meaning "lets go."
The fan blows dust on the dresses.
A "fan" is a device that blows air, usually to make a room cooler.
You put it on that rack for me, ok.
A "rack" is a metal frame for holding clothes.
We take the finished dress to the distributor and then we start on size six.
In business, a "distributor" is a person or company that distributes
or delivers a product to all the places that it will be sold.
How much do they pay us to make the dresses? :: 18 dollars for assembling each.
"To assemble" a dress is to put it together from different pieces.
I dont think shell make it, and with her mother here! [TS]
In this case, "to make it" means to survive.
Shes so arrogant! [TS]
An important word for a person who is mean and
snobby, and more specifically, looks down on others.
Mrs. Carmen has gossip! [TS]
Rumors or loose talk between people about
other people, that may or may not be true.
That dirty old man looks like a shriveled up mango! [TS]
A "dirty old man" is, generally speaking, an old man who has a sexual
interest in much younger women or girls. If a person is "shriveled up,"
they have lots of wrinkles, like someone who is very old. A "mango"
is a type of fruit.
He thinks youre too skinny, but he would like to fatten you up!
If a person is "skinny" they are too thin, and "to
fatten up" a person is to make them gain weight.
You little brat, wait! [TS]
A "brat is a spoiled, obnoxious and disagreeable child.
Dont knock yourselves out, ladies.
"To knock yourself out" doing something is to exhaust yourself.
Where the hell are you going? [TS]
Added to WH questions to show emotion such as anger or frustration.
I cant take it anymore. [TS]
If you "can no longer take" a situation, this means that you can no longer accept it.
My hands have arthritis. [TS]
A disease that is common among old people, which
makes it difficult to bend ones hands, arms and legs.
So much effort, so much sacrifice. [TS]
"Sacrifice" is the act of giving up something that you want.
You only think Im a beast of burden. [TS]
An old expression for an animal that is used to do hard
work, such as a horse that pulls a tractor on a farm.
How cute. Look at yourself in the mirror [TS]
In this context, a key word for a person who is pretty in a childlike way.
Its too late for Estela to get married. Now I have to concentrate on Ana.
"To concentrate on" a person is to focus, or spend
ones mental energy and thoughts on them.
Youre a treasure. :: Grandpa! [TS]
A "treasure" is any object that is very valuable, and
if used to describe a person, it means much loved.
Papa, those are only legends. [TS]
A "legend" is a popular myth, or a story that has been passed down
from generation to generation that often is not actually true.
After the revolution, there was a rumor that there was a cave full of gold. [TS]
An important word for a piece of news that has not been verified and may not be true.
Hey Jimmy! :: Whats up?
A common and colloquial way to greet a person if you have not seem them
for a while, and more specifically, an alternative way of saying "Whats new?"
Mr. Guzman, I filled out the applications. :: Look at that, Ana. Way to go!
"College applications" are forms that are filled out by a person who is hoping
to attend a college in the future (They ask for such information as a persons
personal and educational background ). "Way to go" is a way of telling a person
that you highly approve of what they have done.
Wheres the personal statement?
In this context, an essay written for a college application in which
the students personally describes why they deserve to go to that college,
and why they would like to study there.
Im friendly with the dean of admissions at Columbia.
At a university, the "dean of admissions" is the person who
decides which students will be accepted to study there.
Write the essay and I can get it to him and
get you in for the September semester.
An "essay" is a piece of writing on one particular subject, usually from
a personal point of view. A "semester" is a period of time over which classes
are taught (The Fall semester lasts from September to December).
Ill hang on to this until you bring me the essay.
To "hang on" to something is to keep it.
My sister needs to stay and help her with her fashion boutique.
A "fashion boutique" is a small shop where clothes are sold (although here
Ana is talking about more of a factory or assembly shop than a boutique).
Europe is so cool. Youll get a whole new perspective.
"Cool" is still the most common slang word for excellent, fine or perhaps
very fun. "Perspective" is a key word that means point of view, or a way
of looking at things.
Things are too easy here. Like youre handed everything from school to a car.
This is Jimmys way of saying that life in the United States is too easy
for kids (although he doesnt seem to realize this isnt the case for Ana!)
Ana gets closer to Jimmy and tries to help Estela save
her clothing business as it struggles to pay its bills.
Mom, I dont watch Spanish soap operas.
Daytime drama shows on television that generally follow the lives of the
rich and miserable (Theyre named soap operas because companies sell lots
of soap to the housewives that watch them).
Its not a regular novella. Its a Brazilian.
A "novella" is a short story, which is smaller than a novel.
You remember Juanita, the cross-eyed daughter?
If a person is "cross-eyed," their eyes look into each other.
Let me guess, she gets pregnant? :: Ana, dont spoil the story!
In this case, "to spoil" a story is to tell a person what happens
at the end, before they have a chance to see or read it for themselves.
He asks her to run away with him. Of course that
means he has to betray her mothers wishes.
If a person "runs away from home, " they leave out of frustration, against
the wishes of their parents. "To betray" a persons wishes is do something
which that person does not want them to do.
Its curse words in Spanish.
"Curse words" are dirty or cuss words, such as fuck, shit, etc.
Jerk. Goddamn it. :: OK, Jimmy, I get it.
A "jerk" is an idiot, stupid person, asshole, etc. "Goddamn it" is a somewhat
vulgar and common way of expressing anger or frustration. In this case, to
"get it" means to understand.
Do you think Im your maid?! You left the dishes in the sink.
A "maid" is a person who is paid to do housework,
such as cleaning the house and washing the clothes.
We almost finished pinning the pattern.
In a clothing context, "to pin a pattern" is to arrange various pieces
of cloth in a way that looks like the finished clothes will look like when
sewn (A pin is a tiny needle, and a pattern is a design or model ).
Just a few little adjustments here and we can get started.
An "adjustment" is a small change in pattern or plan.
Its always been my mothers dream to go back to the village in Mexico.
A "village" is a nice word for a small town.
We need those four seamstresses to finish this work.
A "seamstress" is a woman who sews for a living.
Ill charge you interest.
In this context, "interest" is the money a bank charges for making a loan.
Its because I love you that I make your life so miserable.
An excellent and powerful word for very unhappy.
This is a sweat shop! Dont you get it? Youre all cheap labor for Bloomindales.
"Sweat shop" is a common expression for a factory or other work place where
the workers are very poorly paid and badly treated. Bloomindales is a well
known and generally expensive department store.
All youve done is flip burgers.
"To flip burgers" is a way of referring to what workers at fast food
restaurant do, which is to throw hamburgers into the air (or flip them)
so that they land on their uncooked side, on the grill.
Im proud of what I do. You little brat. [TS]
A useful word for a misbehaved or disrespectful little kid.
I never wanted to work here in the first place, much less for nothing.
An interesting grammatical construction which is
used for emphasis and basically means "especially."
If it doesnt heal now, it will heal tomorrow. [TS]
For an injury or wound "to heal" means to get better.
Its probably just gas.
The polite way of referring to stomach upset when you eat too much. If you
cant hold it inside, this is called passing gas, or more crudely, farting.
Its break time. :: Then you take a break, because I cant afford one.
"To take a break" is to stop and rest for a while after working a lot.
100 people at the church, the priest waiting,
and he never showed up for the ceremony.
A "priest" is a religious leader in the Catholic Church. "To show up" is a
common way of saying to arrive. A "ceremony" is a series of official acts
that is passed down over the generations, such as a wedding or funeral.
God damn him.
Note that "god damn it " is used to express frustration or anger, but
it can be replaced by a pronoun to express anger at a specific person.
Mom, youre so old-fashioned. :: Girls nowadays think they know so much.
"Nowadays" is away of referring to the present
day when comparing things to times in the past.
No, mom. The reason they end up pregnant is
because they dont know how to use contraceptives.
"To end up" is to finish. "Contraceptives" is another word
for birth control methods, such as a condom or birth control pill.
Look at here, the Mrs. Know-it-all.
A sarcastic way of referring to a person who thinks they know everything.
Why is a womans virginity the only thing that matters?
A persons "virginity" is the state of beinga virgin, or of never having had sex.
Shes the owner of a manufacturing company.
A "manufacturing company" produces physical products, such as
cars or furniture (As opposed to services, such as banks or restaurants).
Yeah, Im asking for an advance on the dress order.
In business, an "advance" is a payment of cash for a product
or service that has not yet been produced or delivered.
Im a contractor for Mrs. Glass. My name is Estela Garcia.
In this context, a "contractor" is a person who pays another person to do certain
jobs, such as building the various parts of a house, or producing a type of clothes.
You need an appointment.
An important word for a planned meeting between two or more people.
Im Estelas business partner, Ana.
A useful term for a person who helps another with their business affairs.
I went out on a limb to hire you in the first place because
I believe a woman like me should help a woman like you.
"To go out on a limb" for somebody is to do something
very difficult or risky, in order to help them.
You have to help yourself and meet your deadlines.
A "deadline" is the final day or time to finish or
accomplish something before it is considered too late.
Your mother is a little crazy. :: Youre just figuring that out?
In this context, "to figure out" something is to understand it.
I have morning sickness.
An interesting expression for the upset stomach or nauseous feeling
that pregnant women get for the first few months of their pregnancy.
A woman knows. I havent had my period for three months.
The word for the time that a woman bleeds during her menstrual cycle.
Are you starring at my boobs?
A good sang word for a womans breasts (Much less vulgar than tits!).
I made this list of topics to talk about so we
wouldnt run out of things to talk about.
A "topic" is a subject, and if you "run out of"
something, there is no longer any of it left.
You dont take compliments well?
A "compliment" is a nice or positive statement that is made
about a person (Some people get embarrassed when they are complimented).
I guess this is good night.
A sweet way for a boy to tell a girl that theyre date
is over, perhaps just before he tries to kiss her.
He was a very elegant man.
If a person is "elegant," they are usually well dressed and
behave in an educated and very refined or graceful manner.
I pretended he was still alive and I put him
in a wheel chair and took him home in a taxi.
A "wheel chair" is a mechanical chair that people who cannot walk use to get around.
I like having you as a tenant and Id hate to have to kick you out.
A "tenant" is a person who rents a house or building from the owner
or landlord. "To kick a person out" of a place is to force them to leave.
I told Estela many times, "If you do not have the cash up front, do not do it."
"Cash" is another word for money, and to have it "up front" is to have it
already, before starting a particular project, so you will not have to
borrow money later to complete it.
Shes working hard and its just not working out.
If a situation isnt "working out," it is going poorly.
Im working on my own line. Would you buy a dress like this?
In this case, a "line" of clothes is a style that is produced for sale,
often consisting of shirts, pants and other pieces that go together.
I need help with the hems or were not gonna make the deadline.
A "hem" is the raised border or edge of a piece of cloth.
"To make a deadline" is to finish on time.
I remind myself its not for me, so I put a
plastic bag over it and stick it on the rack.
Note that in this case, "to stick" is to put, and a
"rack" is a metal hanger for hanging or storing clothes.
Shes got a point.
In a conversation or debate, if somebody "has a good point,"
they have said something that is important or worth considering.
Anas takes charge of her relationship with Jimmy, life, and
Mr. Guzman announces that Columbia University wants her as a student.
She thinks Im ugly and fat and God knows what.
When said in this context at the end of a sentence, "God knows what"
is a cynical way of saying "and perhaps a lot of other things."
She thinks Im at mass again. :: So is this a sin?
"Mass" is the act of people in a Christian Church celebrating
their relationship with God (Well, thats the theory). A "sin" is
a religious word for an immoral act in the eyes of God.
Pretty dresses arent just for skinny girls.
Here, Estela uses "skinny" as a positive word,
but in fact, it generally means too thin.
I spent a lot of money on this material.
In this case, "material" is another word for cloth.
The two words you say when playing card games such
as poker, when you want the next person to make a move.
You got in! The dean called me personally with the news.
A "dean" in a university is a high level person who is responsible for a
certain part of how the university is run (In this case, the dean of school
admissions. The dean is head of the entire school).
Your daughters been accepted to Columbia University with a full scholarship.
"Columbia" is an excellent university in New York City. If a student receives
a "full scholarship," the entire cost of going to that school, often including
food and rent, is paid for.
There must be wonderful colleges in this area.
A "college" is a university, though some do not have programs
that are as advanced (i.e....they often dont offer Ph.D. degrees).
Were a family and we intend to stay that way.
"To intend to" do something is to plan to do it.
I didnt come this far to see my family break apart.
In this case, "to break apart" means to physically go off in different directions
(LA and New York), though more often, if a family breaks apart, what is being
discussed is the psychological or emotional stability of the family relationships.
You want to abandon him?
"To abandon" a person is to leave them, often to take care of
themselves even when they really dont have the ability to do so.
Thank you very much, Senor Guzman, but this is a family matter.
In this context, when Carmen says it is "a family matter," she means
it is a personal problem that should only be discussed within her family.
Can I get some condoms too?
The most common form of birth control, worn by men during sex
(They are also called rubbers, though this is not as common as before).
These are kind of fun. :: All right.
A good alternative to OK.
Damn this shirt.
Note that "damn" is used to express anger, and that it can be
followed by any direct object, including an object such as a shirt!
You tramp! You lost your virginity, didnt you?!
A woman who has sex with lots of men, or perhaps a prostitute.
Mom, youre imagining things. :: I can tell.
Note that in this context, "to tell" means to know what
is happening, even if it cant be seen or is not obvious.
Youre not only fat, now youre a puta.
A Spanish word for a prostitute, which is sometimes used by English
speakers that are familiar with Spanish or other related languages.
Why dont you value yourself? :: Because theres
more to me than just whats in between my legs.
An interesting exchange between Ana and her mom in which Ana is telling her
that just because she has sex with someone she likes, this does not mean that
she does not respect herself.
Dont you think I know a thing or two about this?
"To know a thing or two" about something means to know or understand it well.
I think its about time that you and I had a little conversation about menopause.
"Menopause" is the time in a womans life, about age
50, when she stops having menstrual cycles and periods.
The doctor said no sugar. Why are you eating flan?
A delicious custard desert made with eggs and sugar.
Im having a craving. :: But youre not pregnant!
If you have a "craving" for a particular food, you strongly desire it
(Pregnant women often have cravings for foods such as pickles).
Im going through the change of life.
A gentle way for some doctors and women to refer to menopause.
You know, Ana, youre not bad looking.
If a person is "not bad looking," they probably arent gorgeous,
but may in fact be pretty attractive or good looking .
I stink. Who farted?
"To stink" is to smell very bad, and "to fart" is a
crude but common way of saying to pass (stomach) gas.
Please dont waste the distilled water. Its expensive.
If water is "distilled," it has been made as pure as possible by being heated
into steam and then turned back into water. It is used for cleaning clothes.
What a relief that were almost done with this.
A "relief" is a feeling of great relaxation after a period or worry or nervousness.
Ana gives a lesson to Estela and the seamstresses, and then
struggles with her mom before making her most important decision.
All the steam has me sweating like a pig.
"Steam" is the vapor that water turns into when boiling.
Look at you. :: You look awful.
A powerful adjective meaning extremely bad or horrible.
Mama, I happen to like myself. :: Right on, sister!
In this context, "happen to" is used as emphasis to say something that is
unexpected or the listener does not agree with. "Right on, sister" is a silly
and old-fashioned (1960s) way of showing a person you strongly agree with what
they just said.
Oh, thats it. Make myself attractive, so I can catch a man.
"Attractive" is a very general word for pretty or appealing, and "to catch" a man is
a colloquial way of saying to attract him so that he becomes romantically interested.
My weight says to everybody, "fuck you."
This is Anas way of saying she has a lot of self-confidence
and she doesnt care if people thinks she is overweight or fat.
"Fuck you," of course, is a very common and vulgar insult.
Hail Mary! What are you trying to do?! [TS]
An old-fashioned expression used by very religious people to express shock or anger.
How dare anybody tell me what I should look like or what I should
be when theres so much more to me than just my weight!
"How dare..." is an interesting term to express anger
or outrage at the statements and thoughts of others.
Whats wrong with me wanting to be thin and sexy?
A positive adjective for a person who is the perfect weight or just below
what they should be (Slender is also positive, but skinny is negative).
If youre a cow, then Im a hippo.
A very large animal that is found in Africa and in zoos.
You want to see cellulite?!
Fat that is common around some peoples thighs, hips and ass.
I got all these stretch marks on my arms and chi chis.
"Stretch marks" are the scars or markings on the skin from injuries
to the body, including from giving birth (Chi chis is a slang term
for breasts in Spanish, but its not used in English).
Jesus, she wins.
A common way to express surprise or other emotion, and unlike "Hail Mary,"
its used by all types of people, including those who are not religious.
Have you all gone mad?! [TS]
In the right context, an excellent word for crazy or insane.
To be rid of all these clothes and to just let it all hang out.
"To be rid of" something is to escape or get away from it. If a person "lets it
all hang out," they let down their hair and adjust their clothes so that they
are totally comfortable and relaxed, without concern what others think.
Who cares what we look like when no one is watching us?
A very common way of saying "Nobody cares that
Whats that scar? :: This one is you.
A permanent mark that is left on the skin after a wound or injury begins to heal.
You have no shame.
An important word for the guilt one often feels after
doing something immoral, wrong or harmful to others.
You have my blessing.
A somewhat religious but common word for a persons official approval.
Youll always be in my heart. [TS]
A sweet way of telling a person that they will always be emotionally close to them.
Real Women Have Curves
Some Possible ESL Questions for Class Discussion
1. Have you had your own difficult experiences trying to balance the
values of your own culture and the one of your adopted country?
2. In Los Angeles, the biggest subculture is Mexican, or more generally,
Latin-American. What are the biggest ethnic minorities where you live? Do you think
there are similar issues between the older and younger generations in those subcultures?
3. Do you think Ana is a strong person? Why or why not?
4. Are Americans too obsessed with being thin? Or, in fact, are Americans
actually too fat? Is Ana too fat, or as Jimmy said, is she beautiful?
5. Is Estelas little factory really a sweat shop? Do you agree that selling
a dress for $18 which later sells at Bloomindales for $600 is "just not right"?
6. What did you like and not like about this movie?