The Manic Pixie Dream Girl is a trope often seen in movies. She dances into the life of some stodgy, boring male and overhauls his life with her whimsy.
We’ve seen her as Clementine in The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Penny Lane in Almost Famous. These females live for the moment and in the moment. Their type are coming under criticism for being yet another unrealistic portrayal of womanhood on the big screen.
The following video depicts a home for Manic Pixie Dream Girls (MPDG) – Love this!:
A male friend once showed me a picture of a girl and told me I should have been her. She was dressed in leopard-skin tights and a fuzzy pink vest. She did zany stuff that suited the outfits she wore. Also, she was his cousin.
Apparently, I was 75% of the way there, but far too responsible to actually be her. I had kids too young, I placed too much weight on getting bills paid on time, I was was too self-conscious for my own good, I didn’t like animal-print anything – except on animals. Somewhere along the line, I forgot to fly free, I forgot to let my inner zany chick off the leash. I felt a bit bad about that, once it was pointed out.
But there was one major thing stopping me from letting my zany-isms bust loose … the thought that you needed an audience for it to work. I mean, would you dance in the rain alone? Would you coo over the texture of grass alone? Would you try to taste sunshine on your tongue alone? And if you’re aware you’re living in the moment, can you really be living in the moment?
In my last two years of school, I left Catholic school behind and started at a government school. One of the girls there, whom I shall ‘C’, was undergoing a transformation. By all accounts from her friends, C had been pimply and overweight. But over the summer, she’d lost weight, her skin cleared and she’d grown her hair out (from a short style). In the months that followed, C rapidly turned into a Manic Pixie Dream Girl. She suddenly needed to touch everything – art displays, boys hair, grass, pieces of rope – anything with texture. She kept claiming to want to dye her blonde hair black, and then giggling that she couldn’t because then she’d have blonde roots growing out.
To me, even back then, C seemed to be role-playing. As though your outside appearance can inform who you are as a person. As a woman, the thought of playing a role makes my eye twitch. Women spend their lives playing roles, or at least being expected to play roles. It’s always been important to me to de-construct role-playing, to lay it bare.
My male friend, who I adored, was right in that I over-thought things. Being self-conscious is not a good state to be in. Being too aware … is not always a positive thing. I let far too many moments pass and allowed far too many opportunities to slide. I worried too much. I thought too much.
At that time, my job was in promotions. I turned up to work, and dressed in whatever costume was laid out for me – which could be anything from a German Oktoberfest dirndl to a witches black dress to a showgirl outfit. I spent the day running promotions and giving away prizes. A perfect MPDG job, right? It was always a rush – to get my eldest son off to school and get my preschooler off to preschool, and try to get back in time to pick them up. The job was fun and frenetic. But at the back of my mind, I was always thinking … is this really what I want to do with my life?
I should have been happy. And I pretty much was. Fun job, beach all weekend (I lived next to the beach), great kids and great friends. I had enough living-in-the-moment snatches to be living the ‘coast lifestyle’. I have lots of magic memories of those years – mostly those times spent with the kids … just roaming beaches, building dams of sticks and sand, sitting in the warm ocean until sunset. I may be biased, but my kids (I had two boys then and have four boys now) are wonderful people. I never wanted to have children (that’s another story) but they are the four best things that happened to me.
But underneath I always wanted more. The job I had was aimless and I wanted work that mattered, or at least that I had control over. My closest neighbour in those years was also a single mother. We lived in a set of villas in a busy tourist spot next to the ocean. She wanted a nice man who came complete with assets and money – someone who could give her the lifestyle she wanted. I could see the attraction. With money, the struggle would be over. But I’m not practical enough to want to do things that way. Also, I didn’t want the traditional relationship where, as a woman, you were dependent upon a man for everything material.
I went on to study social work and IT (Information Technology) – had two more children and worked as a writer for a media company. In the last few years, I’ve worked for myself.
I’m still not where I’d like to be. Maybe if I were more of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, I wouldn’t care. I wouldn’t even care that I’m too damned old to be a Manic Pixie Dream Girl – eek! Each day would be a bright new experience. My friend who thought I was meant to be a MPDG left the world around the time my now ten-year-old son was born. Maybe there’s a lot to be said for living in the moment and not worrying and planning so much for the future – because today is all we really know we have for certain.