28 8 / 2011
In response to my article on HelloGiggles, Jenny Zimmerman wrote a rebuttal article called Disney Romance…Oh How I Love It!. It’s a good piece, for sure, and made me smile a lot. But I do want to clarify some points I was making in my piece so that she, and others, might have better idea where I’m coming from.
I want to preface this by saying that I completely respect Jenny’s position and even admire it. I don’t know how old Jenny is, or her backstory, but that doesn’t matter. She shared some really interesting ideas and points. This is why I love HelloGiggles so much; it gives a great platform for women (and men) to start some really interesting discussions, and when they can continue beyond the means of the website, it means we succeeded in making people think and feel something, and that’s a win in my book. :)
What disturbs me most about this concept is that it presumes that adjusting to “adult life” means letting go of the “fantasies of youth.” “Adult life” just feels like this, and it’s ok… NO!!!
Jenny’s referring to my quote in the original article that says, “I’m not settling for, but rather, I’m settling in.” What’s important to understand is the word choice in this sentence and what it means. “Settling in” is not the same as “settling for.” The problem that I, and other women, face when it comes to the Prince Charming syndrome is that while the beginning of a relationship can feel as exciting and enchanting as a Disney movie, this charm inevitably ends. Our once flawless princes become less-than-perfect men. Reality hits. This isn’t bad, or evil, or pessimistic, it’s just how things work. Maybe some girls can push all those flaws they find aside and still see everything as a bright, sunny Disney dream, but I’m too realistic and too nit-picky to be able to do that. What I struggle with is accepting that perfection is not possible, and yes, that is an adult concept because it is a mature concept. To expect princely perfection from every boyfriend is not fair to these boys; after all, would you want them to expect perfection from you, or do you want them to learn to accept your flaws? You don’t want someone putting you on a pedestal. If you hold out for someone without flaws, someone who lives up to every ideal your Disney-influenced brain can concoct, you will be disappointed.
The point of Disney romance is that we rescue each other from our own faults and situations. We help each other get out of our own way, or out of the tragic situations we’ve found ourselves in.
Since I am not married, nor have I ever been, maybe you’re sitting there thinking my post is idealistic poppycock, but I have actually been in relationships where guys saw through my bulls*** and I saw through theirs and we helped each other grow.
I completely agree with this. We should be helping our significant others grow and learn. The problem is we expect people to change and for the “happily ever after” in Disney. That does not exist. People rarely change (grow, yes, but change, no), and challenges arise constantly in relationships. You don’t have one issue to settle and once it’s fixed, you’re happy forever. Even if you’re capable of “fixing” an issue in yourself or your significant other (which let’s be real, how often can an issue go away entirely for a person?), something else will come along. Disney doesn’t show us this. They show us a problem, it’s fixed within a few days, the girl is 18 and her boobs are perky and everything ends in a wedding.
Disney girls don’t have breakups. Meg did, but she’s one out of how many, and she’s not even considered a Disney princess. The highlighted women, Jasmine, Belle, Ariel, Mulan, Cinderella etc. had no breakups. Sure, they had their own issues with families and such, but so do other girls. Real life women have those struggles and breakups and may still expect a prince to be there in the end.
The issue I face is that while my boyfriend is supportive, kind, helpful, and caring, life still doesn’t feel like Disney, and that’s when I realize I need to create a distinction between settling for, and settling in. There is no perfection. There is no Flynn Rider, or Aladdin, or Eric. I hope I’m wrong. I hope I’m just too jaded and hurt by things in the past and that somewhere out there, someone will make me feel that way. I love my boyfriend. I still don’t know if he’s The One, and knowing myself, I’ll never know for sure about anything that serious. I’ll always doubt myself. Maybe that’s what I wish I had that is so inherently Disney—that knowing that all the girls have about their prince.