The Death Of The Manic Pixie Dream Girl

Time of death: July 15, 2014, 4:45 p.m.
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Time of death: July 15, 2014, 4:45 p.m.

In a July 15th post on Salon.com, film and music critic Nathan Rabin, creator of the term "Manic Pixie Dream Girl," apologized for ever coining the term.

The Manic Pixie Dream Girl (or MPDG) was born, officially, in Rabin's 2007 essay about the film Elizabethtown, starring Kirsten Dunst. He described the MPDG as a "fantasy figure who exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.”

Growing up, I found the MPDG to be a formative trope, as I'm sure a lot of xoVain readers did. It was refreshing to have the endearingly awkward Ugly Betty balancing out the over-sexed Britney Spears. Suddenly, it was cool to be quirky!

Remember Natalie Portman as the aimlessly adorable Sam in Garden State? Don’t even get me started on Zooey Deschanel’s vintage dresses in everything ever. But, as time has gone by, MPDG has become a term that people love to hate. It's demeaning. It's sexist. It's reductive. Betty became an editor at Mode. Natalie Portman went to Harvard. Zooey Deschanel doesn’t always wear bangs. And because all women must change with the times, I regretfully packed away my crochet hook, deleted The Shins off of my iTunes library, and started drinking green juice in the morning instead of eating cupcakes.

Rabin, too, felt the shift. “I realized that didn’t recognize the manic pixie anymore,” he wrote in his apology. He also quoted actress/screenwriter Zoe Kazan, who described the MPDG as "this unstoppable monster where people use it to describe things that don’t really fall under that rubric." And he agreed with her. 

After reading Rabin's apology/eulogy, I took a moment of silence to mourn the death of the MPDG and then emailed my girlfriends because DEAR, BLESSED TROPE DEATH, WE CAN ALL CUT OUR BANGS NOW!!! 

Aren’t y’all super excited as well? The Manic Pixie is dead. We can wear what we want; do all the whimsical things; pull our brooding and depressed boyfriends into our world of glitter and up-cycling...idyllic blue sky's the limit.     

To that end, I've compiled a list of beauty looks that us ladies can now rock without being called quirky, cute, or funfetti-tastic.

Cat-Eye Liner

manic pixie dream girl

My wide eyes help me read my tea leaves better.

Everyone knows that big eyes were made for displaying childish glee, and that a good cat-eye can open up and accent most any aspiring Manic Pixie girl’s peepers. Most days, I have to forego the cat-eye for fear of being told that my eyes are amazingly whimsical and shit, but now…

Bangs

Like many girls, I wore straight across bangs long before the MPDG came along and co-opted the look. Alas, I was forced to decide between pinning mine back until they grew out, or answering to Zooey for the rest of my life. But no longer! This new MPDG-less world ensures fringe freedom for all!

Oversize Frames

manic pixie dream girl

Holla atcha four-eyed girl.

Being a card carrying member of the four-eyed club isn’t so terrible, but not being able to buy large plastic frame glasses was incredibly difficult for this chick. In order to hide any resemblance to the MPDG I had to wear...contacts. Terrible, I know. But now I can return once more to my beloved, vintage-inspired, oversize plastic frames. All encompassing in their diameter and charm, long may they reign.

Glittery Makeup

manic pixie dream girl

Go ahead, call me fun. I DARE YOU.

Glittery makeup makes you look fun, which is a huge MPDG character trait. Fun usually involves cheer-up activities, and what better suits fun activities than fun makeup? Try glittery lip gloss paired with playing the ukulele, or wearing glittery blush to a fun Marie Antoinette-themed birthday party!

Bird Tattoos

manic pixie dream girl

Put a bird on it.

There are good tattoos, bad tattoos, and a totally separate category of bird tattoos, which Manic Pixies have on lock. MPDGs more or less own bird tattoos. I mean, owned, RIP. If you’ve ever wanted to get anything avian or feathered inked, but hesitated for fear of people asking you what you baked this weekend, seize the day! Bird tattoos are now uncaged.

Now that we've come to the end of the list, you might be thinking, I rock one or more of those looks on the regular and don’t consider myself a MPDG. That was my intent.

Who cares if the MPDG is dead? It shouldn’t change the way we dress, act, or do our makeup. Who cares if people think that oversize glasses and bangs are trite? We do not “exist solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life,” in the same way that we do not solely exist to be the antithesis of this trope.

Calling someone a Manic Pixie is as shallow as the term itself. Women should be given permission to dress and do exactly as they please and just be themselves--whether the MPDG is alive or dead. 

How do you feel about the term Manic Pixie Dream Girl? Do you care that it's "dead"?