Love & Sex

A Message to All the Single Ladies: Why You Don’t Need a “Prince Charming”

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Why Disney Princes Make Terrible Boyfriends:

*Video by BuzzFeed

When I was a freshman in high school, I had a fabulous teacher, who I will refer to as Mr. D, who always advised all of the girls in my class to heed with caution, when watching any animated princess movies, especially those based on classic fairytales that were much more sugar coated than the original versions . It was his belief that as beloved as these stories and films are a socially constructed myths that are actually toxic to a modern woman’s self perception, independence, and expectations of men, disguised in a candy coated, fairy dusted, magical, pink package. By high school, most of the girls I knew no longer watched movies of this nature as they did in adolescence, however the naïve conversations overheard throughout the hallways aptly indicated to Mr. D that many of us still continued to cling to this fantasy of being rescued from peril by our soul mates, falling head over heels in love at first site, and remaining eternally bonded to our true love for ever and ever. Perhaps it was the magic of Tinkerbell’s fairy dust, combined with old school, Southern traditional values, but literally heard some of my most brilliant classmates utter statements like, “I don’t care what degree I get in college, as long as I graduate with a rock on my finger and an MRS degree”.
I personally did not hold this same belief; I wanted to go to college to further my education and eventually find the job of my dreams, in order to provide a comfortable life for myself, and my future family. Even though I was raised in the very conservative deep South, I grew up in a household of progressive, strong, self sufficient women, and I am a child of the female empowerment Spice Girls/Destiny’s Child/ TLC, “Girl Power! No Scrubs!” movement, however, I would be lying if I didn’t say I spent a good portion of my teen years, daydreaming about finding my perfect future husband, to compliment my perfect, grown up, independent lifestyle. This all changed during my first class with Mr. D. It was third period, study hall. Mr. D prompted us to quietly take out our books and study, as he shuffled through his own lesson plans and pretended not to notice as we blatantly disobeyed the strict “No Talking” study hall protocol. Someone in my class was given a handmade bracelet by her summer camp boyfriend, and we all gushed as she regaled us with romantic tales of sharing fudge pops and poetic serenades of Snoop Dogg lyrics. “Y’all- he walked me home through the woods, to my bunk, every night, and would always sing Beautiful to me, in his little country accent. It was so cute! We are totally going to get married, and I’m gonna have a big, Cinderella Princess wedding!” “It’s not fair,” I groaned, “I want a Prince and a Princess wedding…. I can’t even get a guy to ask me for my phone number, let alone find a boyfriend. I want a boyfriend!” I think at this point, Mr. D had probably rolled his eyes so many times to himself, that he had to stop and interrupt us, before they froze upside-down in his skull.

“Cinderella was an irresponsible, whiney, brat who couldn’t even handle doing a little cleaning, without begging someone else to help her, even if they were elderly or didn’t have opposable thumbs. She manipulated Gus Gus and all those other mice into slavery, and if she really wanted to go to the ball so badly, she could’ve made something work without the magic. Instead, she wasted all her time crying over the behavior of individuals that she knew had a regular propensity for wickedness. She should’ve seen the reaction of her stepfamily from a mile away, and anticipated a decent back up plan on her own. Also, what kind of person forgets ONE shoe? Ladies, you are in high school now. It’s time to forget the Princess movies- they are simply societal myths! They are fictionalized products of their time, utilized as anti-feminist propaganda to make a docile, codependent, submissive lifestyle seem appealing to little girls. The reward for losing a shoe, eating random fruit from a stranger, or pricking yourself with a needle and passing out, is not a handsome Prince that automatically knows he loves you for you in an instant- it’s some sort of horrible infection. They perpetuate false hope, ultimately leading to disappointment and consequences, not a man. You want a real Princess wedding? Emulate Princess Di’s…but PS, gorgeous service, and that one still ended up in the pooper… just FYI.”

I couldn’t believe it. “Wait- so Disney is a LIE?! No! It can’t be! I mean, obviously all the magic itself isn’t real, but there has to be some truth to the whole ‘finding true love’ aspects of them, right?”

Holding back uncomfortable laughter, Mr. D cracked a subtle smirk, as we stared back at him, doe eyed and confused. “Girls, ‘True Love’ should not be your only expectation out of life. For one thing, it isn’t a guarantee, and even if you do experience it, it never plays itself out as it does in the movies…..and you DEFINETELY don’t want it to play out as it does in those princess movies. All of those princesses have horrible lives, and the worst part is, they don’t even realize it. Sure, maybe the older films had some socially retro undertones to it, but what about the later, post feminist movement, movies? Ariel was a prodigal singer! Belle was a genius who loved books, and her fierce independence and kindness softened the heart of a beast!” “Ariel was a beautiful free spirit and a prodigal singer, but then she meets a man for the first time, and what did she have to do to get that man to love her back? Gives up her voice! And Belle eventually won over the affections of the Beast, AFTER he held her and her father captive in his castle, for who knows how long. Ladies, that’s what we call kidnapping, and it’s a crime. Why else would anyone voluntarily befriend furniture? If my choice was talk to a candle stick or hang out with my literal monster abuser, I would opt for the singing candle too! The Beast’s heart was only ‘softened’ as you say, because Belle eventually came down with a classic case of Stockholm syndrome. Think about it, ladies. Fantasy is fantasy for a reason- to make us feel better about the real world, because it is nothing like the real world. It’s an escape.” Our eyes widened even more with disappointment, as Mr. D. continued to debunk every princess fairy tale we had ever heard. Though these were all his personal theories and he obviously didn’t expect us to receive his opinions as solid facts, I was always aware the stories were fiction, I hadn’t even realized that they had subconsciously inspired me, as well as many of my other classmates, to wish for all the wrong things and hold out hope for something that didn’t even exist. I couldn’t believe that one goofy girl talk session, had somehow triggered an emotionally earth shattering, Socratic debate about the relevancy of Disney myths in modern culture, and the power these fantasies really hold over young women, destroying my entire perception of how the world worked. I could feel the remaining shreds of childhood innocence dissolve into oblivion. Is this how everyone felt when Magellan first confirmed that the world was actually not flat, but round? I felt so stupid I wanted to cry, and my classmate who had spent the beginning of the period bragging and showing off her lanyard bracelet, actually did shed a couple tears, as she rapidly attempted to wiggle and squeeze it over and off her wrist.

Realizing that he had triggered an eruption of hormonal anxiety, Mr D. did his best to calm us down, “Now girls, relax! I did not think this would cause so much pandemonium. I’m your teacher, and I wouldn’t be doing my job if I withheld what I believed to be the truth from you. You aren’t in Middle School anymore. You can still appreciate the movies and the stories for what they are- entertainment. Disney did not ‘lie’, they just provided a euphoric, enjoyable, emotional escape. It’s fun! Disney teaches little girls how to dream, which is a wonderful thing, but do not allow the specific contents of these dreams literally dictate your expectations for reality. I’m just saying, it would be in all of your best interests to let go of the fantasy elements now, because I promise, you will be in a much better position to cope with the actual highs and lows that come with surviving in the real world. Take it from me, you would be better off without a ‘Prince Charming’ intervening in your lives too prematurely, because chances are, once he shows his true colors, he will not be so charming. He is more likely to distract you from your actual goals, and bring you more drama. Ladies, a man is not the ultimate reward for being a good person and doing the right thing, self love and self-fulfillment is.”

Though this conversation occurred more than a decade ago, I will never forget it. At the time, I thought I had been traumatized by a bitter, lonely grinch that perhaps had his heart broken one to many times, and as a result, was anti-love and romance. Now I realize, he really was looking out for our best interest. Having a significant other can be a great thing when the time is right and all the stars align, but putting all your effort and hope into finding a perfect, ideal match, is playing with fire. Yes- this can be a difficult pill to swallow, especially as your Facebook newsfeed blows up with new engagement announcements and ring selfies, but you can’t obsess over the life choices of others. Involvement a serious relationship is not an accurate measure of emotional maturity, self value, or happiness; you can make happiness happen for yourself by taking each new day as an opportunity to contribute to the world in the positive way, ultimately making you a better you. You are the designer of your own destiny and the keeper of your happiness. Don’t allow societal pressure to make you feel obligated to find someone. The more you allow yourself to grow independently, the better off you will be for your future mate, so in the meantime, enjoy all the liberating benefits of single life! Eat ice cream in bed, wear comfortable, but not so flattering granny panties all the time, splurge on jewelry for yourself, sleep late on Sundays, take long bubble baths, fart loudly and free of shame- treat yourself while enjoying being yourself. The right person that is truly worthy of all the amazing things you have to offer will find you, as soon as you stop looking. Whoever your intended partner is, should be someone that can love you for you, so do yourself a favor and get to know yourself better while you still have the time. Your future partner needs to be someone that compliments all the unique qualities that make you special, but this does not mean they are to fulfill this idealized mold of perfection nor should you lower your standards and cling to the first random person that finds you attractive. True love isn’t instantaneous- it takes time to get to know someone else, so allow yourself that courtesy. So if you really want to make a deep, meaningful, love connection with someone else? End your search for a fantasy “Prince Charming.” You don’t need him! Life is much more exciting, interesting, and fulfilling without him. *Photos via Tumblr

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