Individual people can’t be put into a box. It’s an obvious statement that everyone can be multifaceted and multidimensional, personality-wise. That doesn’t really stop stereotypes and typical tropes though. If you like a few certain things or frequent certain establishments, like protein shakes and going to the gym a lot, for example, then you’re a “bro”. And if you like to wear leggings as pants and Starbucks, you’re a “typical basic girl.”
One of the most recent tropes that women have to deal with now is the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. In movies, TV and literature, a Manic Pixie Dream Girl is anyone who is a quirky, unique and interesting person who does not conform to the typical ideals of women. They aren’t exactly feminine, but they aren’t too ‘manly’ to love. They are still usually beautiful, in an “unconventional” way, though.
At face value, the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope might not seem so bad. It’s just someone who’s unique, right? Well, not really. A typical trait of Manic Pixie Dream Girl characters is that they end up with a boring man, who’s going nowhere in his life and has no path. The girl somehow, with her quirkiness and love for Converse shoes paired with ball gowns, fixes the man. They make him better, they make him interesting, likeable even. And they also usually have absolutely no character development or dimension.
There are a lot of movies that involve this trope; a lot of them quite popular and respected movies, too. (500) Days of Summer is one, so is Garden State. Although the movies themselves may not be bad, the lack of dimension and respect the female characters get is bothersome. They are shown to have literally changed the man’s life. But do they get the same introspective dialogue and human emotions the men get? Not really. They do get to be super hot, though. I guess that’s a plus.
This trope has reached the real world now too. If you’re just the slightest bit eccentric and quirky, certain types of guys will notice and will think your unabashed weirdness will make their lives and themselves so much more interesting. They’ll think, ‘Oh, she likes video games and nerdy stuff? She’s my dream girl,” and put you on a pedestal, as if you are incapable of doing wrong, and when you inevitably slip up slightly, as all people do, you’re suddenly not so likeable anymore. You’re no longer the girl who loved to geek out, you’re now the girl with complex human emotions and feelings.
There’s the other side of the coin here too. If you’re yourself, possibly a bit quirky or into obscure things, you’re “trying too hard.” You only like these things to impress men, or to make people think you’re interesting. In this world, there’s no room for you to be yourself without it being for someone else’s benefit or for their approval. The only escape is to recognize that not only women, but everyone, is complicated and human, not looking to be approved by the world, but to be accepted.
– Emily Keller, Assistant Entertainment Editor
Image courtesy of IMDB