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Woman on Top
March 10, 2011 - Regina Gonzalez
Woman on Top (2000) is a story about love and power. It follows a master chef named Isabella and her troubled life. Isabella lives in Bahia, Brazil, with her husband, Tonino. While living in Brazil, she worked at her husband’s restaurant. She is the only reason it was a success. She has terrible motion sickness so she always has to be in control of her movements. She has to do all the driving and, during sex, she has to be on top. Her husband is very macho and doesn’t like that his wife has to do these “manly” things. In other words, he’s an oppressive chauvinist. Isabella finds him cheating on her, and she flees Brazil and comes to America, to San Francisco to be exact. This is why food in Woman on Top represents power.
In her relationship with Tonino, Isabella was taught to feel bad about being a strong woman. He hated that his restaurant was only popular because of her and often tried to get her to do lesser jobs than cooking. When she comes to America she is introduced to the other side of this. She lands her own cooking show, Passion Foods, and catches the eye of the producer. The producer is quite the opposite of Tonino. The things he can’t stand about her are the thing the producer loves about her. It is through her love of cooking that she is able to embrace the strong things about herself. It gives her power, not only literally over her sickness, but figuratively as well. Cooking and food have not only led her to live an independent life away from an oppressive husband, but it also helped her survive while with him and find a man who loves her for her attributes. Also, when Isabella came to America she prayed to the goddess of the sea. She asked the goddess to make her husband unattractive to women. The prayer worked and meanwhile in Brazil, Tonino isn’t having any luck with the ladies. Since he isn’t having any fun with other women anymore and his business is failing since Isabella is no longer ther e, he realizes what he lost in her. He comes to America too, with the purpose to find her and apologize. When he gets there, Isabella has to make a choice, her husband or the producer. It may seem like an easy one, but she is a loyal woman and is legally wed. During this fight for her feelings, she is very upset and channels it all into her cooking show. She works through her problems with the tool of food. It gives her the power to get through and isolated time to be alone with just the food and think. She becomes so immersed in the cooking it’s as if the kitchen is her own private world.
Strength is an important part of life, but for some it doesn’t come easily, especially for women. Those who have strong enough personalities to stand out, like Isabella, should embrace those qualities. Through the outlet of food, she learned to do just that. I’m sure we could all learn for Isabella and find a creative and beautiful way to find our power.
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