College opens one up to a multitude of new experiences and people. In the span of four semesters, I’ve rented a bike and blasted Fleetwood Mac while dressed as a storybook witch. I’ve dyed my hair teal, then various bright shades of blonde, and now I’m pink. I’ve hosted radio shows talking about history ranging from the wax figures of Madame Tussauds to the impact of the Stonewall Riots. I even took up melodica after a year.

And before you say it, yes, I know what a manic pixie dream girl is. But not everyone knows what they are.

Before you go scouring on the web, a manic pixie dream girl is a trope that describes female characters in movies that act as a wish-fulfillment tool for male main characters. A film critic by the name of Nathan Rabin came up with this to describe Kirsten Dunst’s character in the film Elizabethtown. She’s quirky and cutesy, all fun and games to cheer up a male protagonist who needs a cheerleader. And once they fulfill their purpose, they virtually disappear. It’s not true love, it’s a need. And there are plenty of other examples you could easily find with a simple Google search.

So, why me?

So why am I bringing up myself in relation to a one-dimensional trope designed for shallow wish-fulfillment?

Whenever people who present or identify as feminine do something quirky or out of the ordinary, they’re condemned with this label. It’s the “I’m not like other girls” label that is thrown in that turns expression into “I’m trying to impress someone” and makes genuine self-expression into a misogynist reflection.

It’s the “manic pixie dream girl” denotation that creates self-doubt and self-hatred. Self-expression is no longer self-expression. You essentially lose your sense of self. Now when you dye your hair, you’re craving male-centric validation rather than your own. You become a supporting character in your own life.

And yes, it’s for me.

And to go back to what I said before, why did I bring up what I did in college? Because I did it for myself. I dyed my hair because goddamn it, I wanted to look like a version of myself that I thought was cool. I go on the radio because I love to play around with audio and engineering equipment. I biked dressed like a witch because I thought it was cool up until the point I got way too cold and had to go back home. And the melodica is a banger instrument.

The Manic Pixie Dream Girl is designed to topple self-expression. It turns something as simple as self-love and expression into a life lesson for some random guy who will treat me as a ghost once their self-fulfillment quest is over. Believe it or not, you don’t vanish off the face of the Earth post-breakup.

What I am saying essentially is do whatever makes you happy. Dye your hair, go biking, play instruments, start radio shows, learn a skill. You are more than just a figure in someone else’s life meant to incite shallow inspiration. You are a human being.

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