It seems to be the reoccurring theme in almost every Disney movie; a princess waits eagerly for her prince charming who rides in on a white stallion, scales the castle tower and climbs up the rickety ladder to save her. She becomes queen of a kingdom and the two live happily ever after.
Sounds pretty magical, right?
And I’m sure it would be, if it were real life.
Yet still in these modern times, long after kingdoms, princesses, knights and princes, young girls everywhere fantasize about their prince charming coming to save them one day.
But what are we needing saving from? And how long will we wait before we realize prince charming doesn’t exist, at least not the way Disney has made it out to seem.
During my college years I took a class about this very topic. Titled Sex, Love, and Romance in the Mass Media, the class was an analysis and criticism of the unrealistic portrayals the mass media and movies depict, and their influence on society. Taught by Mary-Lou Galician, the subject matter circulated around how movies, Disney movies in particular, depicted a false sense of how a relationship should be, ingraining girls at a very young age to set and expect unrealistic standards when it came to men and love.
And Disney is not the only culprit. Every romantic film has a happy ending, with the hero chasing after his heroine, sweeping her off her feet, and engulfing her in a long embrace and sensual kiss.
Society has raised generation after generation of young women with chronic Cinderella syndrome, and Hollywood aids in the epidemic with its prescriptions of yearly romantic movies starring today’s hottest stars.
So, what should society’s women of today do in order to kick their illness of self inflicted pain caused by unrealistic visions of love and romance?
As Galician says, it’s all in the right Rx.
Part of the class was not only to analyze these false expectations, but to explain how to replace our false sense of reality with a more clear image of what is realistic.
Instead of thinking every man should be able to read your mind because Mel Gibson could read Helen Hunt’s mind in What Women Want, we need to remember that skill is part of our false reality, and in the real world it takes communication to help your spouse understand what’s wrong, not a mind reading technique.
Expecting to meet the man of your dreams who is perfect for you in every way through a bizarre series of twists and turns, like Meg Ryan met Tom Hanks in You’ve Got Mail? Not going to happen because this is real life, and not a movie we are living in.
But the expectations of love and the perfect fairy tale story are not the only images movies and the mass media depict. Most recently the book series turned movie Fifty Shades of Grey has women across the country yearning for a steamy relationship like the one depicted in the movie, yet never mind the other half of that hot and heavy relationship story is emotional abuse.
So why do women continue to believe this non-realistic rubbish? Perhaps it’s because the storybook world is easier and happier to live in, especially when marriages all around us are ending in divorce, and dating is more intimidating now than ever.
Competing with hundreds of online profiles, rejection, disappointment and heartbreak can be far too much of a burden to carry, especially when we can find hope in Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman.
Yet the important thing to remember is believing in the movie-esque ending only hurts ourselves, and one of the main points Galician makes is women have to start reminding themselves no man is going to be perfect.
Understanding that it takes commitment, work, passion and love for one another is what makes a relationship work.
And if you are able to find someone who has the same beliefs as you regarding what it takes to make a relationship work then honey, you’ve found your prince charming.