It’s kind of fascinating to see how Dolly Parton is such a major theme of the movie Dumplin’. I know she is a country music icon, but I never thought she would be such an influence to a fictional character. Those first few intro minutes really surprised me.
Dumplin’ is your typical body positive, self acceptance, feel good movie. It has hints of a romantic comedy, but the writers did not play too much to that angle (thank goodness).
The story follows Willowdean as she finds herself by honoring her late aunt Lucy. When Lucy was a teen, she had filled out the form to compete in the Miss Teen Bluebonnet beauty pagent, but she never submitted the form. Willowdean’s mother (played by Jennifer Anniston) works of as the pagent director for Miss Teen Bluebonnet. Willowdean, who is called Dumplin by her mother, is a plus-sized girl who does not relate to the pagent world. He body type is part of the reason she was so close to her Aunt Lucy. Aunt Lucy was also the one who introduced Willowdean to the precious Dolly Parton. Overall, you see the strength of friendship, both old and new, and the mending of a broken mother-daughter relationship. Like a said, a feel-good movie.
It was really interesting to me to see how Willowdean, while struggling with body image problems, still fat shamed others with the same body type. I guess it does make sense that if you can’t respect yourself, then you can’t and won’t respect others. I just was not expecting those few moments to be showcased in the movie.
On the theme of confidence, it never ceases to amaze me how much one can self sabotage when he or she lacks confidence. Willowdean spends a good chunk of the movie sabotaging herself and some of her relationships. This made me reflect on times when my own self-esteem problems got in the way. Thanks to my Lean In circle at work, I’ve been able to better notice when I am the obstacle standing in my way. Like Willowdean learns, you need people to be tough and honest with you, even if you don’t want to hear the criticism. Those individuals are going to only help you see how truly amazing you are if your self-esteem is getting in the way.
Side note: I felt so much nastalgia when I saw the Magic 8 Ball left in Willowdean’s locker. I have not seen one of those in what feels like ages! I remember asking that ball so many questions as a kid. Never seemed like it was right in my case. Haha