Tracy Turnblad, a big girl with big hair and an even bigger heart, has only one passion--dancing. Her dream is to appear on "The Corny Collins Show," Baltimore's hippest dance party on TV. Tracy seems a natural fit for the show except for one not-so-little problem--she doesn't fit in. Her plus-sized figure has always set her apart from the cool crowd, which she is reminded of by her loving but overly protective plus-sized mother, Edna. That doesn't stop Tracy because if there is one thing that this girl knows, it's that she was born to dance.
After wowing Corny Collins at her high school dance, Tracy wins a spot on his show and becomes an instant on-air sensation, much to the chagrin of the show's reigning princess, Amber Von Tussle, and her scheming mother, Velma, who runs television station WYZT. Even worse for Amber is the fact that it's not just the audience who loves the new girl in town; Amber's sweetheart, Link Larkin, seems to be smitten with Tracy's charms as well. This dance party gets personal as a bitter feud erupts between the girls as they compete for the coveted "Miss Teenage Hairspray" crown. At school, however, a short stint in detention and raised-eyebrows caused by the budding relationship between her best friend Penny Pingleton and Seaweed opens Tracy's eyes to a bigger issue than the latest dance craze or the coolest hairdo--racial inequality. Throwing caution to the wind, she leads a march with Motormouth Maybelle to fight for integration and winds up with an arrest warrant instead. Tracy is on the lam now and goes underground--literally--to her best friend Pennys basement. Has Tracy's luck finally run out? Will she miss the final dance-off against Amber and forfeit the title of "Miss Hairspray," or will she sing and dance her way out of trouble again?