I Was a Manic Pixie Dream Girl

By now, most of you have probably heard of the fairly common trope in today’s media of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. If not, then allow me to give you a brief breakdown: a girl, usually quirky/cool/unique in some way but also still pretty and feminine, is the sole savior and reason to live for the male protagonist. She’s not a character with any kind of depth or autonomy; she exists only to show the man that life isn’ta hopeless hellscape; it’s beautiful and full of meaning!

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Hopefully you already realize how damaging it is just from that description, but if not, let me tell you a little anecdote that will hopefully convince you beyond all reasonable doubt.

At one point in my life, I was a Manic Pixie Dream Girl. This was back in high school, before I was even aware of what a MPDG was, and before I found it easy to say goodbye to people who were dragging me down and doing nothing for my development as a person. During this time, I had a series of dude friends who I became really close to in short amounts of time.

Everything always started out really great. We were all in that weird stage of life where you’re developing a solid sense of self-worth, but you still need other people to bolster it. I tried to give them as much encouragement as possible, because I just enjoyed making my friends happy. I was fun and quirky, they didn’t have a lot of female friends, and little by little, they would get attached.

Things always went downhill eventually. I had other friends, a boyfriend, a family, not to mention school and all of the baggage that comes with it. They didn’t care for that. They wanted one hundred percent of my attention devoted to them, 24/7. They said they “needed” me to be around them to be happy. They didn’t treat me like an individual with a life of my own; they treated me like a major subplot in their own stories, someone who was supposed to be around to help make sense of the world for them. It was entirely selfish. Even when I tried to cut things off, they wouldn’t let me. Their methods of keeping me around ranged from suicide threats to actual self harm. The only way I finally got away from them entirely was going to a different state for college.

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So yeah, maybe being a MPDG sounds cute and all when it’s in a movie, and maybe it doesn’t seem that harmful in the media, but once real boys start treating real girls like objects used to manufacture happiness, things can get ugly and hurtful.

To all my ladies out there: you don’t have to be anyone’s MPDG. You are probably cool and interesting and have plenty of things to offer the world, so why bother being anything but a main character in your own story? And to all the fellas, I know that girl may seem like the only thing that makes sense in this strange and scary world, but she doesn’t exist solely for your benefit. So don’t treat her like she does! Give her space, let her have a life, and I promise you will both end up much, much happier.

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Alex Ritter, NYU.

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