Nancy, a student in El Paso, Texas, shares this review of Penelope, a movie starring Christina Ricci.
In a society that places excessive emphasis on a certain standard of beauty; young girls begin to develop a negative body image when they fail to fit that particular mold. Many movies, television shows, and magazines, to which our youth are exposed to on a daily basis, reinforce the ridiculous and commonly unreachable standard of beauty. Girls perceive the message that in order to be beautiful they must be thin and tall with perfect delicate features and perfect skin. Penelope is a fairytale movie that indirectly and cleverly addresses issues of body image and self appreciation; it is a beautiful movie with an even more beautiful message. It is the “anti-barbie” movie, as Scott Steindorff, Stone Village founder, cleverly puts it.
Because of her ancestor’s wrongdoings, Penelope, played by Christina Ricci, is cursed to be born with the face of a pig. The curse will only be broken when “someone of her own kind” accepts her for how she is. Penelope’s mother fakes her daughter’s death in order to keep the press away and secludes her daughter in their wealthy home. As soon as Penelope becomes old enough to date, her mother begins her search of wealthy, blue blooded men to marry her daughter, one of her own kind. Years pass, and man after man runs away at the sight of Penelope’s pig-like features. Penelope then meets Max, a gambler who is hired to take a picture of the “pig-woman”, and develops a friendship and possible romance with him. After Max’s intentions are discovered, Penelope runs away from her parent’s house and with a scarf around her face sets out alone, for the first time in her life, to a world new to her.
Penelope shows us that you do not have to be beautiful (according to society’s standards) to be a loved and valuable person and that it does not matter what people think about you, as long as you love and accept yourself. I believe the audience will love this story because everyone can relate to the suffering of Penelope. We have all felt that if only we looked different, we would be happier. Whether it is losing weight, gaining weight, having a smaller nose, having less acne, being taller or being shorter, being darker or being lighter…we have all been there, and Penelope reminds us that we are beautiful just the way we are.