Real Women Have Curves By Josefina Lopez

1671 words - 7 pages

In Josefina Lopez’s play Real Women Have Curves, a group of Hispanic women discuss their sex appeal in terms of their body image. They judge their psychological aspect of sex appeal based on how well their physiological aspect of body image agrees with society’s ideals. In Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish, he explains that society is an amplified Panopticon that causes its members to observe one another and themselves. This theory explains these women’s compulsion to peruse their bodies to make sure that they fit within society’s standards of sexiness. Although these women are described in a collective manner, Lopez delineates each woman’s character distinctively. Their differing characters are greatly influenced by the opposing cultural values of Latinas working in sweatshops and that of White-American feminists. According to Patricia Hill Collins’ Black Feminist Thought, these conflicting cultural values develop oppositional knowledge in these women, which alters their perception of the female sex appeal. Hill Collins also explains that when individuals communicate their diverse ideas in a unified manner, it precipitates a unanimous definition to a society. This theory supports why the Latinas in Lopez’s play demonstrate a progression towards similar ideologies. In summary, using Foucault to explain the idea of self-surveillance, and Hill Collins to explain oppositional knowledge developed by contrasting the cultural values of White-American feminists and Latinas working in sweatshops, it is possible to describe the social phenomena of defining female sex appeal in terms of body image in Lopez’s play.
In Real Women Have Curves, the Latinas in a sweatshop reveal their perception of their sex appeal by discussing their body image. This is seen when Carmen comments on Ana’s physiology, saying “Ana, you’re not bad looking. If you lost 20 pounds you would be very beautiful.” She then moves on to justify her statement by claiming that “[a]t this age young girls should try to make themselves as attractive as possible,” (Lopez 58). Carmen’s idea of a sexually attractive female is someone who is slim regardless of her age. She does however, emphasize on the importance of being sexy at a young age to increase the prospects of finding a husband. This is validated when Carmen justifies her weight by saying that she is married, and that she gained weight so that her husband would be “disgusted” by her (Lopez 57). Carmen succumbs to society’s demands of the female sex appeal, and therefore believes that it is important for women to control their body image accordingly. Ana agrees with Carmen that body image defines sex appeal. However, she refuses to change her physiology to satisfy the desires of society. Ana says that her body weight challenges society’s norm by saying “[h]ow dare [society] try to define me and tell me what I have to be and look like!” (Lopez 58). Ana still agrees that a thinner body is more attractive, and says that part of her...

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