Real Women Have Curves (play)

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Real Women Have Curves
Written byJosefina López
Date premieredMay 25, 1990 (1990-05-25)
Place premieredMission Cultural Center for Latino Arts
San Francisco, California[1]
Original languageEnglish
SettingA tiny sewing factory in East Los Angeles

Real Women Have Curves is a stage play by Josefina López and is set in a tiny sewing factory in East Los Angeles in September 1987.[2] It is marked by the issues of gender politics and the Latina immigrant experience. The story is told from the point of view of Ana, the youngest employee at the factory. Ambitious and bright, Ana yearns to go to college, but does not have the money. The action follows the course of a week at the factory, as the women talk about their lives, loves and deepest desires while attempting to meet impossible production deadlines.

In the playwright's notes, López writes about how she grew up in Los Angeles herself. With the threat of La Migra looming over her childhood, she once saw a meter maid in a corner store and immediately attempted to "act white" out of fear that the official looking person could deport her. After the 1987 Simpson-Rodino Amnesty Act, López was able to become a legal resident. She reflects on the undocumented people she knew who were afraid to register themselves for fear that the act was a trick. "They, like me, couldn't believe that after hiding and being persecuted for so long they were finally going to have the freedom to live and work in this country." She recounts that before she went to college she worked in a garment factory; those experiences inspired Real Women Have Curves.

In 2002, the play was adapted into a film of the same name, directed by Patricia Cardoso and starring America Ferrera as Ana.


  • Ana: the young feminist and recent high school graduate. She is politically active and concerned; she is waiting on her financial aid to come through so she can attend college.
  • Estela: the owner of the Garcia Sewing Factory, behind on her payments, kind but hardworking. Described in the play's intro as "plain-looking" and "plump". She is afraid to apply for amnesty because she owes money on some sewing machines, and thus spends most of the play's action being nervous, afraid and driven to complete her large order. She has a huge crush on a man the group jokingly calls "El Tormento"; he takes her for a date and behaves inappropriately, making sexual advances that a smarter woman would have seen coming.
  • Carmen: the oldest of the women, mother of Ana and Estela, described as "short" and "large". She is a conventional example of a Latina mother; has a talent for storytelling and a tendency to use a harsh, blunt tone. She speaks her mind on all issues.
  • Pancha: Smart, sassy, described as a "huge woman". She is very comfortable with herself despite the fact that she cannot have children, something her social conditioning has raised her to expect from life. Her character is, like Carmen, rather conventional, believing that Ana's education will be a turn-off for her future husband.
  • Rosali: often acts as the mediator of fights within the group, a little thinner than the others probably because she is constantly dieting. She is described as "sweet and easygoing" by the playwright.


  1. ^ Hurwitt, Sam (August 29, 2016). "Review: 'Real Women Have Curves' charms in Hayward". The Mercury News. Retrieved February 10, 2018.
  2. ^ Churnin, Nancy (April 23, 1992). "Young Playwright Finds Life's Lessons the Best". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 10, 2018.