3 Reasons You Need to See Netflix’s New Film Dumplin

December 21, 2018

Alexandra, Blog, Body Image, Eating Disorders

Netflix recently launched a new film, Dumplin. The film is about an adolescent girl (Danielle Macdonald) and her beauty-queen mother (played by Jennifer Aniston). The film explores the main characters relationship with her mother as well as her own journey toward self-acceptance. Chances are you’ve heard about the film. If you haven’t seen it yet, here are 3 reasons I think it’s a must-see.

  1. Dumplin Explores the Complexity of Mother-Daughter Relationships


Take a moment and think about your own relationship with your mother. For most of us this is a complicated, complex relationship. For many of us our mother was our first example of what it meant to be a female. The way that she dressed or groomed herself and how she felt about her body likely impacted how you feel about your body. As an adult you may express your feminine self in a similar way as your mother or you may be a very different person than your mother. Within Dumplin’ the complexity of this relationship is beautifully explored. The main character (Willowdean) is not a conventional beauty while her mother (played by Jennifer Aniston) is a former pageant-queen still heavily involved in pageant culture. Throughout the film Willowdean confronts what she perceives to be her mothers’ expectations about how she should look or be.

I think the film does a great job of portraying this relationship. Throughout the film we see Willowdean feeling less deserving or not living up to her mother’s expectations. However, Willowdean learns that her mother doesn’t necessarily expect her to be a beauty queen, she just doesn’t understand her fiery, independent daughter. As both women learn to appreciate their differences, they strengthen their relationship. This is a beautiful example of how healing happens in relationships. Often, we think that our parents or loved ones want us to be a certain way. We may even feel that we must be or look a certain way to be loveable. However, you are already loveable. Seeking the approval from someone else is not going to make them love you more or make you more loveable. Rather, as Dolly Parton says, “find yourself and then be that person intentionally”. That’s how to feel loveable.


  1. The Film Demonstrates That the Body-Positive Movement Is for Women of All Sizes & Shapes

Body image has nothing to do with what your actual body shape or size is. Being conventionally attractive does not mean someone has a great body image. Likewise,  having an unconventional body does not necessarily mean someone has poor body image. Body image is a complex thing made up of our experiences, social programming and beliefs.

I like that Dumplin demonstrates women with different bodies, of different ages and their unique struggles with their body image. Women of all ages and body shapes struggle with feeling good, pretty, sexy or young enough.


  1. The Impact of Poor Body Image Is Accurately Portrayed


When we don’t feel sexy, pretty or good enough our poor body image can cause us to see life through an inaccurate lens. We think that people are judging us, we feel not good enough, not deserving of love. We might not go to events or reject love thinking we don’t deserve it. Then our negative beliefs get reinforced.

Dumplin’ does a great job of showing this cycle. When Willowdean’s love interest kisses her, she is initially excited then rejects him and runs away. She later explains to her best friend that she feels not pretty or good enough for him. Her discomfort with her body keeps her from feeling good enough and makes her doubt her lovability. Fortunately for Willowdean, her love interest doesn’t give up and she’s able to work through her own poor body image enough to let love in.



by Alex House