Recovery in the Media. #37. Hairspray

Both fun and touching, this film shows that everyone is beautiful in their own way.

Both fun and touching, this film shows that everyone is beautiful in their own way.

37. Hairspray

Acting in musicals has taken up a great deal of my life. Other the years, I have been in around 20 to 30 plays. Thus, movies with music are some of my favorite films to see. When I went with some friends years ago to see Hairspray, I was not sure what to expect. I left the theater feeling happy and optimistic about my future. Finally, there was a girl who looked more like me but was depicted as beautiful and worthy of being loved. Because of that theme, Hairspray is the movie that I chose to highlight on Media Monday.

Note: I chose to discuss the 2007 version of the film. The original 1988 movie is great too, but I wanted to focus on the musical version.

Synopsis: Tracy longs to dance. If people would just give her a chance, this bubbly teen knows that she could make it big. However, her large weight makes the popular girls sneer. Undaunted, she befriends some African-American dancers and tries to make it onto Corny Collin’s television show. Despite the fury of Velma Von Tussle, the choreographer, Corny chooses Tracy to be on his show. At first, all of Tracy’s dreams seem to fall in to place: the cute boy Link notices her, her mother starts having fun, and the teenager is becoming a celebrity. However, as the mistreatment of Tracy and her new African-American friends continues, the tough girl realizes that something needs to change so that all people can be valued and accepted.

Recovery Pluses: Tracy is beautiful and does not seem to doubt that. No matter what insults are hurled at her, this teenager keeps her head held high and keeps smiling. This makes her one of my favorite movie heroines. Although the audience might be surprised by her attitude and looks at first, they soon fall in love with her just as Link and other characters do. This movie shows that big can be beautiful. We all are attractive and amazing in our own way no matter our color or size.

This film also depicts the importance of standing up for what is right even if it gets you in trouble or leaves you friendless. Tracy does the right thing by sticking by her values despite the threats of others and desertion of Link. Not even romance causes her to back down from doing what she believes must be done. Sometimes, we need to go against others to state the truth. Without being rude or overbearing, Tracy stands strongly and shouts out freedom for all. That is an amazing combination of being kind while tough.

Cautions: As mentioned before, certain parts of this film are a bit risque. Some of the dancing, negative terms used, suggestive language, racism, and mild swearing make this movie less than ideal for a family.

Tracy Turnblad became one of my heroes after I first saw this film. Her confidence, beauty, talent, and joy all showed me that I could be amazing even if I was not super thin. Although the struggle with my body image continued after viewing Hairspray, I often returned to this movie for a spark of self-worth and fun. If you like musicals and want to see a strong but sweet heroine, this is one of the first movies that I would recommend. Yes, it has some uncomfortable material, but life is sure not comfortable either. Overall, this is a fun movie with a surprising message.

Additional Links:

Hairspray trailer on YouTube

Hairspray on IMDB

Hairspray on Rotten Tomatoes


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