Like most (female) children of the 80s and 90s, I got through adolescence on a steady diet of teen flicks, romantic comedies and the occasional Kevin Smith film. And before films with ‘adult themes’ and ‘coarse language’ were my staples, my diet was strictly Disney.
So like most people I know, I’ve been raised on stories that all have one thing in common – happy endings. And while I am loathed to admit this, these stories still float around in the back of my head trying to tell me the way things should be.
Disney taught me to expect Prince Charming, but only if I was pretty, had a nice singing voice, and wasn’t particularly challenging. Teen flicks taught me something much more insidious. Teen flicks taught me that even quirky, smart and unusual girls can expect Prince Charming.
I’m sorry. But quirky girls really aren’t in such high demand. At least not by all of these so-called perfect men. If we were, we wouldn’t need to see so many movies and read so many books where the quirky, neurotic girl finds a nice man who likes her – ‘just as she is’.
So what do I mean by the ‘quirky girl’? Well, if we take Molly Ringwald circa Sixteen Candles and Pretty in Pink as our archetype, quirky girls are different, smart, stand up for themselves and challenge or confuse men just enough to intrigue them. A bit like Drew Barrymore’s character in Ever After, or Bridget Jones. Although I’m not sure if the lovely Bridget could ever really be considered that smart.
If we look to the modern day quirky girls, like Nina Proudman from Offspring or Zooey Deschenel from New Girl (and every other role she’s ever played), quirky girls are also well-dressed, clumsy, have a suitably feminine profession, and have lots of good looking men floating around them. They also occasionally sing, do craft and freak out emotionally.
We love these characters because most of us can identify with some element of them. Hell, if this blog tells you anything about me it’s that I’m a clumsy, reasonably intelligent social worker with a penchant for making novelty cakes in the shape of penises. Oh. And I also have a Dinosaur Diorama in my sideboard. If anyone fits the ‘quirky girl’ mould, it’s me.
And at 29, no perfect man has suddenly appeared and loved me, ‘just as I am’. Nor do I expect one to.
I have been mulling over the issue of the quirky girl for some time and have consulted quite broadly. My conclusion is thus:
The myth of the quirky girl is that she can, and must, attract perfect, uncomplicated guys.
The reality is that the quirky girl attracts quirky guys. Who are just as crazy and complicated as she is. This is why she loves them.
Perfect guys are boring.
This also helps explain why dating and relationships can be so difficult for us quirky folk. Life is complicated, and despite our best efforts, we’re not always able to accept the quirk in others. And worse! We can gloss over signs and inconsistencies, or change ourselves in order to be with someone we think is perfect. But they never are.
I don’t know why we’re all holding out for someone perfect when they just have to be awesome.
But I do feel certain that Walt Disney and John Hughes are somehow to blame.