A few Saturday’s ago, I walked past the TV and Fox news was on…wait, wait, wait…who in the world is watching this? Anyway, I was struck by the conversation they were having. A new release of Disney’s Cinderella has been out a few weeks. Two very blonde and very beautiful Fox new “anchors” (I use that word very loosely) were talking about how we instill the Cinderella Complex into young girls. Like you two Barbie’s have any business discussing the topic anyway…which prince charming paid for your boob job?
If you read in Wikipedia it states the following: The Cinderella complex was first described by Colette Dowling, who wrote a book on women’s fear of independence – an unconscious desire to be taken care of by others. The complex is said to become more apparent as a person grows older. The complex is named after the fairy tale character Cinderella. It is based on the idea of femininity portrayed in that story, where a woman is beautiful, graceful, polite, supportive, hardworking, independent, and maligned by the females of her society, but she is not capable of changing her situations with her own actions and must be helped by an outside force, usually a male (i.e. the Prince).
I recall hearing this phrase in the movie Tootsie when I was a little girl. Sandy, played by Teri Garr is finally explained the truth by Michael, played by Dustin Hoffman. The truth about their relationship and that he is in love with another woman. She goes into a rant…”I read The Second Sex! I read the Cinderella Complex! I’m responsible for my own orgasm; I don’t care! I just don’t like being lied to!”
I’ll save my “responsible for my”…to another time. But even as a young girl I realized there was a negative connotation to these fairy tales. My girls and I are not fairy tale watchers. Now, we do plan to see Cinderella but we stick to Tangled and Frozen mostly. Honetly, they would rather watch Momma Mia. Tangled is about sacrifice for the one you love, not waiting to be saved. As much as I tell my girls, “be ready to take care of yourself” and “don’t think you will marry early”, “don’t get married until you are 30”, I still feel they are receiving these messages.
Who is responsible for the Cinderella Complex anyway? Is it really the white night we are looking for? Do we get over the first fairy tale only to find there is another lurking right behind it?
I think back to my own Cinderella Complex. I was 23, college was over. The weddings exploded in the last 2 summers with numerous friends and sorority sisters tying the knot. I was in a long-term relationship and he was finishing school in a semester. Both of us had good jobs and I loved him so why not…here comes the bride! A year later….here comes the baby (and another) and five years later….here comes the divorce. I look back on that time when all I did was talk about weddings, go to weddings, be in weddings and then plan one and it hits me. My Cinderella Complex wasn’t that a prince was coming to save me, it was the culture of you go to college, you join a sorority, you date/marry either a frat guy or a football player and you pop out a couple of kids. You come back for homecoming and life is all good. I got a B.S., but I also got a M.R.S. That’s the Cinderella story I bought into hook, line and sinker!
Below are my “What If Shoes.”
If you notice…yeah…they are Kate Spades! I found them in my favorite shoe store in my college town. I visited “Roomie” and she actually found them. She told me, “you have to buy them…you never know-what if?!” After I purchased them, I immediately began to imagine, what if…What if I meet someone (or have I already met him) and the stars align. Then there will be this amazing second chance wedding with our kids, our families, our friends. Lots of laughter, love, happiness…Happily Ever After right? I still want it. And don’t sit there and say you don’t want it either.
The main issue with the Cinderella Complex is it continues to develop past the fairy tale. Is the example I am setting for my young daughter’s the one I want them to follow? Fall in love…yes! But my dear darlings…be ready for disappointment, betrayal, lies and heartbreak!? Hell no! Or should we just be honest with ourselves and our daughters-fall in love…yes! But my dear darlings…it’s not all it’s cracked up to be and don’t be too upset when it falls apart. Damn it! I am forever upset that mine continues to fall apart and to hell with you if don’t understand why! Just like Charlotte said…”I’ve been dating since I was 15! I’m exhausted! Where is he?!!!”
I have missed several opportunities to thank and pay homage to the show that is the inspiration of the blog’s title; “Sex and the City”. Let us all bow down. Do you remember, because it’s one of my favorite parts in the first movie? Carrie is reading to Charlotte’s daughter. If I recall correctly, she is reading to her Cinderella. As she finishes, Carrie tries to explain: “You know this is just a story and this is not how it really is.” The little girl agrees, but asks; “can you read it again?” Yes, Yes, Yes! I will read it again and again. It may be false hope, but there is a prince, or a knight, even a thief, a cleats or cowboy…whatever form he is in…he’s out there.
At an early age, “This One” would sketch her wedding dress and bridesmaids. She would name the members of the party…all the details. I noticed however, there was no groom. “Oh I don’t need one of those.” Proud Momma moment.