In What's Eating Gilbert Grape, Bonnie Grape or "mama" is a recluse due to her obesity. She never leaves the house and she does not like any outsiders coming in to the home to see her.

Mama reluctantly agrees to let Gilbert's friend Becky come in to the house to see her and speak with her during Arnie's birthday party.

enter image description here

Gilbert: Mama, this is Becky

Mama: Hello

Becky: Hi

Mama: I haven't always been like this

Becky: I haven't always been like this

What did Becky mean when she said "I haven't always been like this"? Was Becky simply referring to her physical appearance? Is there any evidence throughout the film that there was more of a significant meaning behind what Becky said?

  • I suspect tone is important here...
    – Paulie_D
    Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 15:52
  • I think she's telling his Mama that she's never been like this either. Maybe she's referring to her looks as a boy, or that she's going through puberty. Commented Feb 19, 2018 at 22:12

1 Answer 1


While there is no direct indication in the movie of this comment of Becky's, we can assume that, as Mama was talking about her appearance, she also made an excuse of her tomboyish look to make Mama comfortable in her presence.

Also, there can be a lot of things that Becky might be referring to wittingly.

This response suggests Becky is not judgemental.

"Well, I haven’t always been like this.” What does her response indicate about Becky? What is the message to the viewer about people in general?

This response indicates that Becky isn't judgemental. She excepts people for who they are. The message that is explored about people in general is that they can be very judgemental. Society is quick to judge a persons' apperance; illness or disability before they know the person inside.

Or, she used to be judgemental, but not anymore, hence "Well, I haven’t always been like this.

Earlier Becky said to Gilbert that she does not look for external beauty in people.

I'm not into that...that whole external beauty thing, you know. 'Cause it...it doesn't last. You're, you know... Eventually, your face is gonna get wrinkly...you'll get grey hair...your boobs might sag. You know? So what? It's what you do that really matters.

Source (I couldn't find a better script).

Maybe she didn't always look beyond the looks in a person, but now she does.

She also mentioned about her parents being divorced. Maybe she had a rough childhood, but now she doesn't feel that bad. She is living her life to the fullest and helping others to get back on the track. She is even happier to find a soulmate in Gilbert. Maybe she referred to that happy state as in "Well, I haven’t always been happy like this".

These are all things we can speculate that she could have meant by her response.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .