Cleora Stallworth or Mama Cleo was one of the most formidable, fashionable, shoot straight from the hip women I ever knew. Mama Cleo was my Grandfather’s sister. She had a wicked sense of humor, was beautiful, talented and everyone loved her…she was my favorite. Dolly Parton was her favorite singer and is still mine. The last moment I ever had with Mama Cleo, she requested I sing one of her favorite Dolly cuts “9 to 5.” Of course, I obliged.
Whenever I hear Dolly sing, I fondly remember my days on the porch at Newberry Terrace with Mama Cleo and how she was also the only person other than my Mama who was there when I won my first beauty pageant (Janet Gretzky was my runner-up). The joy and pride on her face are permanently etched in my memory. So, it suffices to say that Dumplin’ struck a particularly emotional chord for me having loved someone so fiercely in my life and being a pageant girl. Not to mention having my friends for the LGBTQ community help a sista’ out with that talent competition.
Willowdean Dixon (Danielle McDonald) is a plus-sized beauty queen with a heart as big as the state of Texas. Her Aunt Lucy (Hillary Begley) taught her how to be confident, love Dolly and embrace the package she came in. Of course, having a Mom (Jennifer Aniston) who literally embodies what it is to be a perfect beauty queen is a lot to contend with.
Brilliantly adapted by Kristen Hahn and directed by Anne Fletcher, Dumplin’ will inspire any woman of any age to love who they are despite what society says we should look and act like. Produced by COTA Films, Dumpin’ is streaming right now via Netflix and is an anthem movie for girls who have a few more curves. Your curves make you unique. As Dolly would say, “Find out who you are and do it on purpose.”