lucky andi archives: ending the fairytale mindset

Posted on: Thursday, May 26, 2016

I originally wrote this post titled Why That Fairytale Mindset Needs to End over three years ago, in 2013 (!!), and thought it was worth re-sharing. Part of the post is a  reflection on women and how our culture often puts pressure, some obvious, some not-so-obvious, to look, behave, and think a certain way. While there’s an influence of stronger women in the media and in our world – from politics (Hillary!) to TV/movies to music (Queen B!) and beyond – we still have a ways to go.

I recently was having dinner with friends and we were talking about negotiating rates for projects. After a lot of conversations with lady friends in similar situations, the consensus was pretty clear – we often settle for less than we think we deserve and feel “rude” or “mean” asking for more. My husband Eric was in the room, and he reminded us that a lot of guys would have no issue asking for exactly what they want and need – and encouraged us to do the same. YAS.

Mostly, when I originally wrote this post, it was a reminder to myself, to be the strong, confident and empowered woman that I am, rather than sinking to a level of insecurity and fragility.  And that still applies today. xo!

Almost every single childhood fairy tale story or movie has the same storyline: woman needs rescued, man saves the day. The end. After recently re-watching this Sex and the City episode and simultaneously reading a chapter in Shauna Niequist’s Bittersweet titled “Princess-free Zone” I got to thinking about how destructive this fairy tale mindset actually is. One simple line from the chapter stuck out to me: “It drives me bonkers when women depend instead on their sexuality or their fragility. I think there’s a better way.” 

I couldn’t agree more.

We women grew up watching movies and reading stories and playing dolls where the male figure sweeps in to save the day and rescue the lost, confused or scared female figure. When we were too old for standard storybook fairy tales, we moved on to a different, yet frightening similar, cultural messaging and media portrayal of women. In these stories, women used their bodies to get what they wanted; these women were frail and weak and depended on men to save them yet again. The only difference is that the men weren’t always portrayed quite literally as a knight in shining armor like in those Disney movies.

There was a phase during high school where I wouldn’t answer questions out loud in class because I didn’t want to be considered smart.  Instead of acting like a confident, outgoing sixteen-year-old girl, I would play the confused dumb blonde role just to sadly enough, have people pay attention to me. I’ve always been friendly, easy to get along with and happy and was fearful that being smart and simply being myself would jeopardize those things. That’s when the dumb questions and the flakiness would slowly seep into my conversations and interactions and turn me into someone I wasn’t. This VICE article shares more insight {some truthful, some just hilarious} at why girls play dumb.

This isn’t something I’m proud of and it’s not who I was raised to be. I was taught to take control of and responsibility for my own actions, that I have a good head on my shoulders. I was taught to speak openly and intelligently and to expect that everyone, both males and females, older and younger, treat me with respect and dignity. I was taught to be independent and at the same time, collaborate and work with others as equals in any and all situations. I was taught to work hard, to never back down and to wholeheartedly follow my dreams and my faith. My hope and prayer is that more women learn that they don’t need someone else to save them. Women have the capacity and opportunity to be self-reliant, self-sufficient and perhaps most important of all, self-loving.

Don’t get me wrong: I am a girly girl in lots of ways through and through. I always have been – including during that terrifying dumb blonde phase of high school –  and don’t see it changing any time soon. I enjoy getting my nails done, I wear heels most days of the week and I could talk about almost any and every fashion show or monthly magazine cover. I like to be taken out on dates and prefer to talk about the latest shoe trend rather than the latest football game score. I don’t want you to mistake me for being anti-feminine or to confuse femininity with fragility.

To the men out there, please celebrate confidence, intelligence, strength, passion and kindness in women and not just their sexuality or fragility. To the lovely women reading this, quit relying on men to rescue you and quit depending on men to make you feel beautiful or accepted. That’s putting a whole lot of pressure ON THEM – and doing yourself a disservice. You are not complete because you have the attention from a guy and you don’t need someone else to figure it all out for you, to tell you what is or isn’t beautiful, smart or wonderful.  It’s time you view yourself as beautiful or accepted, regardless of what anyone – male or female – thinks. Don’t be afraid to be smart and don’t be afraid to go after what you want – whether that’s in your career, relationship or any other aspect of life.

I hope today and everyday you realize the the importance of being active with your own life – active with your decisions and conversations and interactions. I hope you embrace how gloriously freeing it is to take ownership for your own life; rather than watch someone else dictate or bulldoze you and your dreams, hopes and plans. Most of all, I hope you let go of that fairy tale mindset that whispers someone else needs to rescue you.

Lots of love,
Andi

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