Patricia Cardoso’s Real Women Have Curves (2002) is one of the few female-centered films produced by Chicano cinema. As such it offers a privileged instance of a female role within a transnational experience. The film proposes a multivocal discourse of assimilation and tradition, inclusion and resistance. It questions dominant culture, specifically the tyranny of “normative” beauty and the commodification of labor. Downtown L.A. is depicted as a globalized space crossed by a multitude of transnational identities, embodying the vitality of a cultural mestizaje as well as its political links with a capitalist system that keeps Chicanas at the bottom of the economic hierarchy. The centrality of the Chicana body mirrors its relevant position as shaper of race, class and gender power relations within a transnational space. Real Women resists dominant exclusionary practices as the Chicana takes control over her body. Gradually, she develops a new mestiza identity, made up of her Anglo and Chicana experience. She both takes and rejects elements from the two cultures, Chicana/o and Anglo, through the process of construction of her hybrid subjectivity. Her progression towards a self-made mestiza consciousness is achieved by means of circular motions enacting small acts of resistance and border crossings within her everyday experience. My paper will analyze diverse processes of decolonization or acts of border crossing involved in the development of the Chicana identity as a prime example of transnationalism. It will further focus on the Chicana’s “real” body as a site of oppression, as well as of resistance and assertion of Chicana power. As a conclusion, I will try to show that Real Women portrays a new form of transnational identity: mestiza femininity.

Keywords: Transnationalism, Chicana, mestiza, border-crossing

Author: Urtiaga, Rosa (Universidad de Zaragoza, Spain/Spanien)


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