Sweet Sugar Dumplin’

DumplinI finally watched Dumplin’. For some reason, although it was released on Netflix in the States, it hasn’t been available in Malaysia. Instead, fat Malaysian girls get mindfucked with fatphobic trash like Insatiable.

Anyway, Dumplin‘: I liked it mainly because of the Dolly Parton songs and the drag queen bar. It’s a feelgood teen movie in which the teen in question has a predictably ‘difficult’ relationship with her mother. The usual mother-daughter irritation is heightened by the fact that mum (played by Jennifer Aniston) is an ex-beauty queen, who’s still involved in the local pageant, and daughter, Willowdean “Dumplin'” Dickson (Daneille Macdonald), is fat and imagines herself to be a disappointment and an embarrassment.

Macdonald is beautiful and fat. She also seems confident and happy, but has her moments, like when Bo, the boy she likes, kisses her and she freaks out when she feels his hands on her wobbly bits. Haven’t we all been there? I like that this was addressed, but I’d have liked to see more of that blossoming relationship. Of course, it wasn’t the point of the story, but I’m curious as to why a 21st century teenage male isn’t bending to peer pressure and social norms and picking the petite blonde Bekah instead. Also, I want to see how the relationship will deal with the uncharitable reactions its going to provoke. I wonder if there is a book out there that focuses on this issue.

Actually, it bothered me a little that Bo liking Willowdean was a thing in this story. Does there always have to be a romantic element in coming of age stories, especially those based on YA novels?

dumplinbookDumplin’ is based on Julie Murphy’s book by the same name. I haven’t read it, but this is an excerpt of the Wiki entry: ‘Willowdean, nicknamed “Dumplin’” by her mother and called “Will” by her friends, is an overweight teenager who has always felt comfortable with her body and herself. She doesn’t care that her mother was a teen beauty queen or that people have poked fun at her weight. All of that changes when she meets Bo, a handsome boy her age that has expressed interest in dating her. Suddenly Will is full of insecurities and can’t bring herself to date him out of fear of what others would say. In order to prove to her self-worth, Will has decided to enter and win the Miss Teen Blue Bonnet Pageant.’

Hmm … I don’t like the sound of that at all, although I suppose it is a realistic premise. I admit that I know what it’s like to be happy about my appearance until I am judged by a man, or think I’m judged by a man (or, actually, even another woman). Our self-confidence is so easily destroyed by others’ opinions. I don’t think this means that we don’t love ourselves enough. It’s a lot to expect a teenager to have that much self-belief anyway, but even as an adult, I think the need for approval is hard to shake off.

What I don’t get is having to enter a beauty contest to prove your self-worth. To me, beauty pageants are like the epitome of bullshit and evil. Anyway, I should read the book as it could be that it’s been misrepresented by its Wiki entry.

In conclusion, I don’t feel like I wasted my time watching this film. And I actually thought Jennifer Aniston was good in it!



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