When I pulled up Dumplin’ on Netflix last weekend, I only meant for it to be background noise. I was tired and planned to fall asleep, but instead I found myself lying awake for the full hour and fifty minutes of the movie, tears streaming down my face by the time the end credits rolled onto the screen. This movie, which I had imagined was just another coming of age teen flick, had punched me right in the gut. But more than that, it had touched me deep in my soul.
For those of you who don’t know, the film stars Danielle Macdonald as overweight teen Willowdean “Dumplin’” Dickson, a lover of all things Dolly Parton and the daughter of a small town beauty queen. Despite not being “conventionally pretty” (a phrase I hate to reiterate), Willowdean decides to join her small town’s beauty pageant to make a point, both to her mother and to society et al. In the movie, she did just that — and outside the movie, she proved so much more.
Growing up, I always loved rom coms, but I couldn’t necessarily relate to them. I wasn’t as confident as Elle Woods or as popular as Cher Horowitz; I didn’t even have the take-off-your-glasses-and-turn-into-a-beauty-queen potential of Laney Boggs in She’s All That. And while rom com heroines may have varied in personality, more than often, they were all the same: white, straight, able-bodied and skinny. And not just skinny, but undeniably pretty.
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