Do beauty queens eat ice cream?
One of the movies I watched this summer is this charming Academy Award winning film called Little Miss Sunshine. This is a story about a family who goes on a road trip from Albaquerque, New Mexico to California when they learn that seven-year old Olive made it to the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant. Their yellow VW bus breaks down and they have to push it before it would go and then they had to jump into the van. Oh, it is so funny.
I like road trip movies like this. It’s usually not just about the trip itself, but also about the transformation and life-changing experiences of the characters. And the ones in this film are in a dysfunctional family. We have the cocaine-snorting grandpa who has been coaching Olive with her dance moves for the talent portion of the pageant. So you can just imagine what kind of dance moves he has been teaching her. There’s the uncle who had just tried to commit suicide, the teenage son who hates everybody and has taken a vow of silence in preparation for taking a flight course, the dad who is a motivational speaker and talks about winners and losers but it looks like he actually belongs to the second group. And there’s the over-stressed mom who can’t see eye to eye with the dad and fights with him a lot. Oops. Did I just describe myself? 🙂
This is a hilarious movie but there are also moments that will make you cry. It’s got great casting too. Greg Kinnear and Steve Carrell are both lovable, Abigail Breslin as little Olive is so adorable. Add to that Toni Collette and Alan Arkin, both good actors. And Paul Dano as the teen-aged son is not bad either.
Little Miss Sunshine, being about a beauty pageant, tackles the weight issue. And that’s what I want to discuss here. Not just weight, but also body image in general. You have probably seen how the contestants in these children’s beauty pageants look like. As my nine-year old son said, “Ha ha ha. They look like toys.” And I thought that they look like miniature adults, with their faces heavily made up, hair teased, their wide-toothed and rehearsed smiles, and adult-like bathing suits and gowns. But Olive is so unlike them. She did her own make-up, applied very conservatively and her hair just simply straight. Olive is a cute little girl. She’s not skinny but I won’t even call her chubby. She’s a healthy seven-year old girl with a smile that is so genuine and honest.
One scene that strikes me the most is when they were at the diner and Olive ordered ice cream. Her dad made her think twice about that. Did she really want to eat ice cream before the beauty pageant? He was insinuating that ice cream could make you fat. But the mom has something to say about that. And I can relate to that difficult situation when she did not want to contradict what her husband said in front of the child and yet she did not want her to have that wrong impression about food and weight. So when Olive asked her if beauty queens eat ice cream, she told her that she could ask Miss California herself when they get there. And when they all start digging into that bowl of ice cream, Olive did too.
And yes, Olive did ask Miss California if she eats ice cream. And her answer was, “Yes. My favorite is Chocolate Cherry Garcia… except technically I think it’s a frozen yogurt.”
I also want to share the discussion the ladies at ABC’s The View had the other day. It’s about Britney Spears’ appearance at the recent VMA awards. I’m not even referring to her disastrous performance but how people have been calling her fat. Come on. I think she looks good. Of course, she’s got a little bump in the middle, but that’s because she gave birth to two babies. I think it was Elisabeth Hasselbeck (from The View) who said that it could probably be her choice of wardrobe (sequined pair of bikinis) that people didn’t approve of. And Whoopi Goldberg said that it could have been our fellow women who were being hard on her. Because have you heard any criticisms from the men?
I think I agree with Whoopi. Us, women, can be really hard on ourselves. Yes, we see these skinny models on TV and magazines, but it doesn’t really mean that we have to look like them. We tend to put pressure on ourselves.
I admit that I have also been putting pressure on myself with regards to this weight issue. I have been cutting back on portions at dinner and have tried daily walking in the hopes of losing weight (I am still unsuccessful). And I didn’t realize how this is affecting my children, especially my nine-year old boy, until I had this conversation with him a few months ago. This was around the time when I would still carry him downstairs to breakfast in the morning. And I was complaining that he’s getting heavy. But he still wanted to be a baby and be carried downstairs.
Him: I want to lose weight.
Me: (Surprised) No you don’t. Why would you want to lose weight?
Him: Because you said I’m heavy.
Me: Oh, that’s because you’re growing taller. You’re supposed to get heavy.
Him: But you’re not growing, mommy.
Me: Exactly. That’s why I want to lose weight. I’m not growing taller but I’m getting heavier.
Him: You mean fat?
Me: Yes, now do you get it? You don’t need to lose weight.
Him: (Chuckles) Yes.
And no, I don’t carry him anymore. He’s gotten too big for me. And he realizes that, too.
By the way, if you’re planning on watching Little Miss Sunshine with the family, I just want to warn you that this is Rated R in the U.S. and I think 14A here in Canada. I forgot to check the rating before I let my nine-year old watch it with me. It wasn’t even five minutes into the movie and there are already about ten F words that have been said. And I had the caption on. I had to pause and remove the caption and explain to him that, “you don’t say that word and you know that, right?” Anyway, he knows that he’d get in trouble if he does. I had to make him cover his eyes a few times too – drug and sex content.