I remember watching Cinderella when I was a little girl and admired the beautiful girl swept off her feet with the help of a little magic and some killer shoes. I dreamed of wearing a ball gown and meeting my Prince Charming. He would be handsome, romantic, and—well, naturally—charming. I have lived my whole life believing in fairytales. When I grew out of princess movies, I moved on to romantic comedies. I watched as every leading lady found her happily-ever-after. She got everything she ever wanted: a man and true love. They got engaged or married shortly after the on-screen kiss. It was a perfect ending to a perfect love story.
However, it is these dreams that turned my 20s into a nightmare.
I have only now begun to realize that these movies are selling lies. I have spent twenty-two years waiting for love-at-first-sight. And you know what, I could wait fifty more years and would still need glasses to find it. Even Prince William does not fit the Disney mold (and he is a real-life prince). The man depicted in every princess movie is merely a character created to boost societal gender roles. He does not exist. The sooner we realize this, the happier we will be.
A man does not have to be a prince for him to treat a woman like a princess.
Media representations of love create impossible expectations. They present a vision of what love is “supposed” to look like. It is supposed to be chivalrous, romantic, and passionate. The strong and suitable man is supposed to save damsels in distress. A white horse is supposed to make for a happily-ever-after, storybook ending. Unfortunately, this type of love exists only there: a storybook. When we spend our entire lives waiting for a perfect man, we miss out on a man with the greatest component of all: imperfection.
I constantly sabotage my own happiness with the impossible standards I create. I find myself hoping that everything about him will be perfect. He will walk the walk and talk the talk. I need to stop comparing every man I meet with an idealized version; ultimately, men are going to do whatever the hell they want. I am the one that needs to change.
Love will never look or feel like it does in the movies.
Even though this shortcoming of mine roots back to media representations of love, I must learn to overcome it. I need to retrain my brain to be more open and accepting of others’ flaws. I am truly tired of everyone not living up to my impossible expectations. The day I can start accepting people for all their imperfections will be a freeing day. Freeing me from all the disappointment and shattered hopes.
With all this being said, Disney has not completely failed me. If I have gained any insight over the years it would be to always fall for the beast. If you can learn to look past all his beastly imperfections, eventually, he will turn into his own version of a prince.