Having Jennifer Aniston for a mom would make anyone a little insecure about themselves (have you seen Jennifer Aniston?). But the plot of Dumplin' shows that Willowdean Dickson, a plus-sized Texas teenager, is confident in her own skin, and she's going to prove it by entering her mom's pageant. Based on this description, one question you might be wondering: Is Dumplin' based on a true story?
The short answer is no, it's not. The book of the same name upon which it was based is classified as a fictional young adult romance. However, given its generally realistic plot, it's likely no surprise that Dumplin' author Julie Murphy drew upon some very real experiences in her own life when crafting the tale.
In an interview for Amy Poehler's Smart Girls, Murphy says that the character came to her in waves, as a plus-size teenager who does what she wants, be it make out with a cute boy at her part-time job or point out the disgusting nature of catcalling. Murphy calls Will "stubborn," "headstrong," and "fierce," and we know that she lives by the motto coined by Dolly Parton (her favorite musician and role model): "Find out who you are and do it on purpose." But Willowdean is, as it were, a fictional character.
Murphy pulled from a lot of areas in order to craft this story. She touches upon the difficulty of being a teenager, what it's like when you drift apart from a friend, and, of course, the problematic nature of the pageant world. Murphy says that she grew up around women who were involved in them, and she was, in her own words, "quick to judge" the process and the people, but has come to believe it's more nuanced.
At the heart of the film is the story of body acceptance, especially for women. This is where Murphy, a self-described "fat person" who learned to "aggressively love [her] body," really puts herself and her experiences into Will and her story. The trailer has already led audiences to draw comparisons between Dumplin' and another Netflix offering, this summer's Insatiable, which is similarly about a teenager from the south who competes in a beauty pageant. However, criticism for Insatiable was abundant, as the lead character, Patty, lost about 70 lbs thanks to having her jaw wired shut, prior to entering the pageant.
The healthy, heartwarming approach to this tale has garnered a lot of positive feedback from the internet. Bitch Media Editor-in-Chief Evette Dionne expressed her excitement for a film about a "confident and unapologetic fat girl."
Meanwhile, the stars themselves are proud of the project. Drag queen Ginger Minj, who portrays a character who helps Will in the film, shared her excitement when the trailer was released.
So even though it's not exactly a true story, the message here rings true with a lot of people. It's a good thing you don't have to get in line to see this movie, because if the early buzz is any indication, Dumplin' is bound to be a success.
This first-time mom wants to have a home birth, but is she ready? Watch how a doula supports a military mom who's determined to have a home birth in Episode One of Romper's Doula Diaries, Season Two, below. Visit Bustle Digital Group's YouTube page for the next three episodes, launching Mondays in December.