“Story book endings, fairy tales coming true…” Age five, and the Disney princess phase has begun. After seeing these classic childhood tales we all want to be exactly like them, to have our very own fairy tale wedding and marry our own prince Charming who would wisk us away to our Cinderella castle. We made paper towel isles and walked down it throwing petals as we hummed the wedding march. Posing our favorite teddy bear or tricking the next-door neighbor to deck a paper bow tie and stand at the end of the paper towel stream as we marched across the paper lining while the stuffed animal congregation admired the amazing dress. From this age we are fed a glorified image of life, we are trained to assume that “someday my prince will come.”
Next we reach grade school, in the excitement of our first chapter book Ramona Forever is once again pulled from it’s worn shelf and stowed in our messy desk waiting to be read. We get a new perspective on the ideals of marriage. We see Ramona’s independent aunt Bea and her fiance Hobart and their hardships in preparation for their wedding. We even get a not-so-Disney wedding that leads to catastrophe when the rings are lost and only Ramona can find it. Even within the happy ending the truth of relationships and marriage are revealed and slowly realization is dawning upon us that it isn’t all puppies and rainbows.
Fast-forward to teen years and He’s Just Not That Into You shows a new insight to relationships. Gigi and her clingy ways shed a cautionary tale upon the already discouraged demographic and drop the final dose of fateful reality that prince Charming is just a picture on a screen. Her friends’ relationships prove to be no better; between a failed marriage with a cheating husband, a MySpace relationship, a yoga instructor who falls in love with a married man and a seven-year relationship that refuses to end in marriage, love seems like a cruel joke created by a jealous Aphrodite just to spite us. And this was just the starting line for a marathon of teen dramas each more cautionary than it’s predecessor, each slightly different but always leaving the girl sobbing and the guy walking away like a satisfied jerk. Over time, we realize that 1 in 2 American marriages end in divorce and begin to take a cynical outlook on the once picturesque situation. Eventually, the sands of time wear our Cinderella wedding into ashes and blow it away with the Barbie dolls and cassette tapes into the attic of our memories.
So, where does the situation stand? Who or what do we believe? We go from naive kindergarteners in white dresses to guarded people who no longer believe in the concept of love. Where is the happy medium? Reality is necessary but inside every woman is that five-year-old girl with a bouquet of flowers “marrying” the boy next door. The little girl inside never leaves, she is hiding in the attic under media influence and fear. She gives each an ounce of hope that maybe someday we can break the chains that society has put upon us and go back to our carefree summer days. But, in the long run, it’s up to us to decide whether to listen to the Beatles and believe “Love is all you need” or to listen to Shakespeare and decided that love and murder truly go hand in hand.