Sometime in the last year or so, a [rather long] buzz phrase began to surface on various social media sites: “I blame Disney for my high (or unrealistic) expectations of men.” I, and many other ladies, immediately resonated with the statement. “Yes! Prince Eric is so not real. This is the real world and we don’t just go marrying gorgeous, charming princes. My whole childhood was a lie!” Angsty.
I would like to offer some bigger players in this “blame game” of expectations vs. reality that make Disney characters and storylines look like small potatoes. Even as I’m thinking through the classics now, I don’t find the character of any of the guys too appealing. Most of them were pretty normal (maybe even a bit boring). Except for the fact that most were princes. And so, here are a few more examples that served to feed the young and impressionable female (ahem, my..) mind with dreams of Mr. Perf and the fact that I could most definitely nab him:
Mary-Kate and Ashley. As cute as they were and as fun as their movies and shows were to watch, in retrospect, it was not too helpful for me to see them prance around Paris or the Bahamas with dos local hotties year after year. It also made me incessantly want a twin to be able to wear “alike but different” duds and to always have a friend to show up to parties with (again, in Paris or the Bahamas).
The entire CW (in my day, called the WB) network. That Rory had the good guy and the bad boy after her. Naturally, this will happen to every smart and responsible high school girl. And let’s be honest, even though she lived in a consistent state of “nobody likes me and I’m not attractive…”, Joey Potter pretty much had her pick of the whole creek.
The Molly Ringwald Trifecta: Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, and Pretty in Pink. This one takes the cake (^^^!). I actually had a poster of the above hanging in my room at one point. I lived and breathed the aforementioned movies from 7th grade well through college. They are dear favorites. Why? Great writing, real(ish) characters, utterly hilarious, and the stories they depicted were feast-worthy. Aside from her character (named Claire of all things) in The Breakfast Club who was the coolest gal in school, Molly played the normal girl who got the guy that everybody wanted. John Hughes wrote the stuff that dreams are made of.
But wait…I barely mentioned a Mr. Perf in this spiel. Isn’t this about women’s unrealistic expectations of men based on what pop culture has fed us?
No, I don’t really think so. Really, the blame game is not about our “high expectations of men” and how guys just don’t seem to measure up these days.
It seems to be more about thinking we (ladies and gents) know what we want and what would be best for us. The problem is us. It’s about comparing ourselves to others’ lives and others’ stories, to their perfect looks or their dynamite personalities – whether it’s fictional Rory Gilmore or a best friend. If we were like that, or even just passively wished enough like Samantha or Andy, then we could get that person, or that thing, that will make us happy and give us the stamp of approval and significance. I think we’re more concerned with wanting to be Ariel or Belle or Jasmine, and having the happily ever after. I know I am.
The good news is we actually can have that “ever after”. If you have the daring willingness to believe that ultimate satisfaction and pleasure can be found outside of human relationship, then you will start to see those relationships or potential relationships as beautiful, undeserved gifts, not identity-makers…..and you will acknowledge that you still hunger for more. Something people, on their best day, can’t fully give you or me.
This is a hunger to be known.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…” – Jeremiah 1:5
“And I will betroth you to Me forever. I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord.” – Hosea 2:19-20
“On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.'” – John 7:37
“I am the good shepherd. I know My own and My own know Me, just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.” – John 10:14-15
“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” – John 15:11
Sounds like someone who knows us, and wants to make the joy (which is so much better than happy, don’t you think?) ever after thing real. He’s the One and Only Mr. Perf.
(In all honesty, I enjoy Disney movies, MK and A, CW reruns, and those movies will never leave my favorites list. But if we overexpose ourselves to them, as I did as a teen, they can disillusion us and can affect our actions, our inactions, and most importantly, our hearts. Be enamored first by the One who fashioned your heart, and forget about the Jake Ryans for a while. And I have no idea why I started abbreviating “perfect”.)