A manic pixie dream girl (or MPDG) is the female character in television and film who is quirky and makes the male protagonist fall in love with her and his own life. Although I was quirky, I longed to be the type of quirky that would be deemed desirable by men. At the time, it seemed like they were the only female characters that made it acceptable to be quirky and awkward while still holding a strong romantic appeal.
Flash forward a few years, it finally happened: a guy referred to me as his “manic pixie dream girl.”
While part of me should be happy that I finally “made it” and am considered on par with the Maudes and Penny Lanes of the world, I no longer see the appeal of being a MPDG. Now that I’m older, I am able to recognize that the MPDG trope is shallow and is mostly used to further the male protagonist’s story instead of creating a dynamic female character with depth.
If there’s anything I’ve learned from the multiple films that feature the trope is that the men quickly fall in love with these women, but use arbitrary traits of these women to support the idea that they are their ideal romantic partners, such as having similar taste in music, having similar hobbies, and their physical traits.
Although I fantasized about being a MPDG, I never thought that men chose their romantic interests according to the same shallow standards that the characters in films such as 500 Days of Summer did. In the film, Tom was infatuated with his idealization of Summer. She was attractive and she enjoyed the same obscure stuff he did. To him, that seemed enough to consider her as his ideal romantic partner. It would be silly to consider the same standards for a relationship in life.
However, I have noticed that the men who show interest in me tend to idealize me in the same way. They are more focused on the interests we have in common than who I am as a person. While being told that I’m someone’s “dream girl” is nice, I can’t help but think that they have created this false version of me in their mind that is nothing like who I actually am. Having similar interests in music and film is not enough to judge two people’s compatibility. It does not mean I “get you” or that I’m any better or worse than any other potential romantic partner. I do not wish to be an idealization or play the role of the quirky girl who saves the good-looking angsty guy who thinks that a girl who listens to The Shins or The Smiths will magically make his life better.
I am tired of men not being able to see beyond my shared traits with these MPDGs and getting to know the real me. If anything, the Manic Pixie Dream Girls in films are a product of patriarchal ideals that make women an accessory in a man’s life. They are poorly developed characters who pleasure the male gaze and cause men to think that those shallow traits are the only things they need in a love interest.
While I can see why a girl—such as my teenaged self—would want the Manic Pixie Dream Girl image, it is important to be aware of the true meaning behind the trope. You should not be reduced to some sort of fantasy; you deserve more than that. You deserve to be loved for the real person you are.