Lea Tucker, Staff Writer

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Becoming a beauty pageant winner is the dream of many girls across the world. The gorgeous dresses, showing off one’s talent, and getting to have the coveted tiara on your head when you win is the goal of a plethora of girls that live for getting dolled up. However, beauty pageants are not just about being beautiful; they also showcase qualities such as intelligence, confidence, charity, poise and charm. The New Times tells that the first beauty pageant occurred back in 1854, staged by P.T. Barnum. This beauty contest, however, appeared revolting to loads of people and their protesting lead to the event being shut down.

Beauty contests gradually began to gain acceptance by the public and the first modern beauty pageant, Miss America Beauty, was held in Atlantic city in 1921. Since then, the largest beauty pageants that have sprung up are Miss World Competition, found by Eric Morley in 1951, Miss Universe, founded in 1952, Miss International, founded in 1960 and Miss Earth, founded in 2001 around environmental awareness. To advance to these grand pageants, one first has to win a local pageant. The movie Dumplin has become a hit on Netflix, and many people watch it to see that it is not just beauty that can lead to one winning a beauty contest.

“Dumplin” features a plus sized girl named Willowdean Dickson, that decides that she can break the stereotypes of a typical beauty pageant. She is challenged by all of the other contestants and her mother, a former beauty pageant champion, but refuses to give up until she proves her small town wrong. Willowdean is nicknamed “Dumplin” by her mother, but the nickname causes her pain to due to the fact that it picks fun at her figure. Despite the hardships that she faces, Dumplin pairs up with another plus sized girl, Millie, and an edgy feminist Lucy, to compete in the local beauty pageant. Dumplin also has her best friend Ellen, who is slim and beautiful and she decides that she is also going to participate in the contest to aid Dumplin in the revolution. This causes tension between the girls as Dumplin views Ellen as too pretty, and the she does not fit the outsider criteria to be a part of the revolution. The pageant still goes on and the results truly shock anyone who watches the movie.

This movie surprised me in many different ways and overall I would recommend it to anyone that is interested in a heartfelt story that features twists and turns. From the beginning to the end the film held my attention and both the drama and songs kept me entertained. The soundtrack of the movie features a large variety of Dolly Parton songs such as “Jolene” and “Here You Come Again.” Some parts of the movie were slightly cheesy and over the top, especially the parts featuring Dolly Parton songs and Dumplin and Ellen jumping around a Dolly Parton shrine as children. Despite this, the Dolly Parton songs are very good and bring an upbeat mood to the movie. My only other complaint about this film is that it is a little slow getting started and then all of sudden you are done with the big pageant. Other than these few issues, the movie was overall extremely entertaining and thoughtful.

The actors that had been chosen for this film really put thought into becoming their characters. First, seeing that Jennifer Aniston was Dumplin’s mom Rosie, I was a little concerned because I had never seen her play a role such as this. Aniston usually plays more real and calm women in her previous shows and to play Rosie one needs to be superficial and high-strung. However, Aniston is able to play her character very well and she really becomes the crazy, yet loving mom that Rosie is supposed to be. Danielle Macdonald also does an excellent job of playing Dumplin, really showing the rebellious yet smart personality of her character. She is able to portray the many emotions that Dumplin feels as she grows throughout the film. I especially thought that the actress for Millie was a perfect fit. Maddie Baillio truly captured the loving spirit that Millie portrays throughout the entire film. Despite being bullied in the movie, Millie is always able to keep a smile on her face and shows that she really does deserve to be a part of any beauty pageant.

`           A lot of people will watch a movie and not realize that it may have been based off of a book. Dumplin is yet another example of this. I have read both the book and seen the movie and overall, the film was able to remain rather true to the original storyline. The movie does tend to focus on Willowdean overcoming her struggles, while the book focuses on all of the characters pushing past their own boundaries. The movie also looks strongly at Dumplin missing her aunt Lucy, rather than focusing on other ideas as the book tended to highlight. Despite a few differences (which appear in every book turned to movie) the main idea of the story is still shining through. Julie Murphy, the author of “Dumplin” aimed for her audience to pick up the idea of loving yourself and being who you really are. She was hopeful that her readers would not want to change themselves but would rather love who they are.

Overall I would highly recommend this movie to anyone who wants a heartfelt story that could possibly make you cry. It has little bits and pieces of drama but throughout the lows of the movie, the highs always shine through. The songs will have you up and dancing either by yourself or with whoever you choose to watch with. I would recommend reading the book as well to see if you can spot any differences and decide for yourself which you enjoyed more. “Dumplin” is a fantastic movie and next time you hop on Netflix you should definitely give it a try.