The Main Character
You wake up to a soft rock title track, with a full face of makeup and perfectly set hair. You’re ready in seconds with a quirky outfit which covers almost all of your body, and slowly advance toward the daunting hallways of high school. You walk past a group of popular kids who whisper and giggle at your glasses and frizzy hair. You’re not like other girls with the heels and makeup.
You walk across the lawn, gazing down at your shoes to avoid the humiliating glances from the plastics. Suddenly, you bump into somebody, because you (obviously) weren’t paying attention, your stationery falls to the floor, and you fall into the arms of a ripped quarterback. Papers have somehow disobeyed the laws of gravity and fall around you in slow motion. These are just the first three minutes.
I think it's high time the “I’m not like other girls” cliche gets what it deserves. It’s problematic, and showcases the internalised misogyny of women who shit on other women interested in fashion, makeup and skimpy clothing. It suggests that these “coked-up barbie dolls” are generally shallow and vain, and somehow worth less.
I’m into Harry Styles, wear high heels, and wear skimpy dresses, but I also read, have prescription glasses, and wear ripped pants. Now I didn’t know where I fit in, because I didn’t fit in to the main nerd who turns into a goddess stereotype, but I wasn’t the dumb chick obsessed with popularity either. So, let me present an archetype, a side character who acts as a catalyst to the main character’s journey, but doesn’t get involved.
The manic pixie dream girl is essentially the middle ground. She’s a good catch, but men fear her, and women look down on her (probably because her skirt is too short). Sure this one has its own issues like over sexualisation, never being the protagonist of their own life, et cetera, but, that’s the version that inhabits the minds of straight male writers (I’m looking at you, Chetan Bhagat) who try to script strong independent women as side characters.
For the longest time, I refused to accept that I wasn’t the quirky main character who wrote a famous blog and ate carbs, or the skinny popular one whose dad is probably a lawyer. Now why would anyone want to be a girl who wakes up to a loud iPhone alarm, looks like trash in the morning, and has one friend (usually the central character, occasionally the central characters love interest).
Women find me distasteful and men, while attracted to me are borderline petrified to approach me (Pro-tip, the best way to fix that is to stop being attracted to them, then they’re suddenly certain they can “turn you”). You may argue that manic pixie dream girls are a figment of the fevered imaginations of writer-directors, but isn’t that almost every character? We still see the resemblance of these traits in people we meet every day (or maybe that’s me being from a dramatic all-girls convent).
I’ll leave you with this, I love being the reason someone else gets to fulfil their dreams, but more than that I love being the character that leaves a lasting impression without really getting caught in the mess that is life, relationships, and childish rivalry. Nevertheless, the important thing is that much like me, Maeve Riley, Holly Golightly, and every Zooey Deschanel character ever, I will go heal every man, and transform every woman, while undergoing absolutely no change of my own.