Netflix has been churning out amazing movie and show content like it’s nothing, and we all know we’ve been eating it up. Usually, there’s also a deeper message behind the entertainment, and one of their latest originals, based on a book, Dumplin‘, is no exception.
But is there really a strong message here, or is this just another southern tearjerker? In short, how woke is Dumplin’?
The Body Positive Message
One of the major themes in the film is body positivity. The main character, Willowdean, enters a beauty contest despite being plus-sized in order to honor the memory of her aunt and show up the girls at school who think they’re better than her, as well as her own mother. This can be slightly triggering for anyone who struggles with body image issues, as those issues are talked about a lot in the film, but the overall message is that everyone belongs in a beauty pageant, no matter how they look or who they are.
Misfits Banding Together
Another cute and affirming thing about the show is the fact that it features a lot of female empowerment and folks who don’t belong sticking together. The three girls who enter the pageant together are Willowdean, another plus-sized student, and a goth chick who also reads as queer. Their unlikely friendship is uplifting without being cheesy or trying to hard, and it’s nice to see women who aren’t traditional sizes, don’t have traditional styles, and are a little butch, on screen.
One of the most magical things about the film is the inclusion of some awesome drag queens. Ginger Minj, a Drag Race star, and actor Herald Perrineau, who has played a drag queen before, play the queens in the film. In the movie, they come to the rescue and teach Willowdean and the other awkward girls who entered the pageant how to be fabulous on stage.
This is one area where the film is severely lacking. Ginger Minj is a person of color, and fabulous in the movie, but other than that, almost all the characters are white. Part of this is no doubt to point out that the circles of beauty queens and idealized looks in Texas are still very whitewashed, so the lack of POC representation could be an intentional choice to point out that, well, that lack is a real thing down there. But still, there definitely could have been more diverse actors in the film to highlight the fact that more POC should be present in southern beauty pageants.
So, how woke is Dumplin’ overall? Pretty woke, considering the issues of body positivity it takes on and the queer inclusion. The movie does a great job with these themes, and there is nothing overtly problematic about how it presents this message. Three out of four claps!
Photos courtesy of Facebook