Mentally Ill, Not a Manic Pixie

Mentally Ill, Not a Manic Pixie

How the manic pixie dream girl trope romanticizes mental illness
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The phrase “manic pixie dream girl” came to be in Nathan Rabin’s review for Elizabethtown. He was describing the female lead Claire, played by Kirsten Dunst. He coined the term to define female characters that “exist solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.” Since then, all of those writers have given birth to an army of dream girls: Sam from Garden State, Clementine from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and most of Zooey Deschanel’s repertoire. We have watched them be their authentic selves and still be able not only to win the boy but save him from his depressing and humdrum life. That being said, if we actually take the time to look through the one-dimensional characters’ blue hair and vintage record collection, you can see the mental illnesses Hollywood has painted its romanticized veneer over.

All audiences have fallen in love with these dream girls. They are quirky, but not too quirky where they become unattractively awkward. Their fascination for making life matter and finding the beauty and excitement in every little thing drags our dreary male protagonist into the light. They teach the young man to live again though petty crime like shoplifting in Breakfast at Tiffany’s or underage smoking and drinking in Looking for Alaska. With quotes about belonging to nobody and feeling unique in the world, how can anyone not fall in love with these girls and even see a bit of ourselves in them?

What usually goes unnoticed, however, is the mental illness seeded within. Their title includes the word manic, a major symptom of mental illnesses like bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder. The term’s creator even uses “psychotically chipper waitress in the sky”. Upon further investigation into manic pixie dream girls, all of their quirks and habits morph into symptoms of a mental illness. The petty theft at the corner store becomes impulsive tendencies, and their ukuleles and knitting reveal themselves as self-care methods. Then when the boy begins to learn his dream might have a few cracks in it, and those flights of fancy that took you both on spontaneous outings turn out to be a relationship-sparked spin into a manic episode. However, still entranced by her symptoms, he believes his life is for the better with her in it.

As someone with bipolar disorder, I find myself with similar qualities as the MPDG with the odd hobbies and frantic impulses I can’t control, and I usually do find myself falling into relationships with men who are depressed and stuck in some sort of rut. Up until recently, I unknowingly have guided six boys out of whatever phase they were in and became their muse. To follow the trope’s storyline, at the first sign of trouble on my end, and my façade broke right before their eyes. They went running for the hills. I am not some manic pixie dream girl trope and neither are anyone else’s girlfriends for that matter. Take a note from Clementine in Eternal Sunshine. We’re just screwed up girls looking for our own peace of mind. Don't assign us yours.

Cover Image Credit: Full HD Pictures

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I Weigh Over 200 Lbs And You Can Catch Me In A Bikini This Summer

There is no magic number that determines who can wear a bikini and who cannot.
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It is about February every year when I realize that bikini season is approaching. I know a lot of people who feel this way, too. In pursuit of the perfect "summer body," more meals are prepped and more time is spent in the gym. Obviously, making healthier choices is a good thing! But here is a reminder that you do not have to have a flat stomach and abs to rock a bikini.

Since my first semester of college, I've weighed over 200 pounds. Sometimes way more, sometimes only a few pounds more, but I have not seen a weight starting with the number "1" since the beginning of my freshman year of college.

My weight has fluctuated, my health has fluctuated, and unfortunately, my confidence has fluctuated. But no matter what, I haven't allowed myself to give up wearing the things I want to wear to please the eyes of society. And you shouldn't, either.

I weigh over 200lbs in both of these photos. To me, (and probably to you), one photo looks better than the other one. But what remains the same is, regardless, I still chose to wear the bathing suit that made me feel beautiful, and I'm still smiling in both photos. Nobody has the right to tell you what you can and can't wear because of the way you look.

There is no magic number that equates to health. In the second photo (and the cover photo), I still weigh over 200 lbs. But I hit the gym daily, ate all around healthier and noticed differences not only on the scale but in my mood, my heart health, my skin and so many other areas. You are not unhealthy because you weigh over 200 lbs and you are not healthy because you weigh 125. And, you are not confined to certain clothing items because of it, either.

This summer, after gaining quite a bit of weight back during the second semester of my senior year, I look somewhere between those two photos. I am disappointed in myself, but ultimately still love my body and I'm proud of the motivation I have to get to where I want to be while having the confidence to still love myself where I am.

And if you think just because I look a little chubby that I won't be rocking a bikini this summer, you're out of your mind.

If YOU feel confident, and if YOU feel beautiful, don't mind what anybody else says. Rock that bikini and feel amazing doing it.

Cover Image Credit: Sara Petty

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'13 Reasons Why' Is A Show That NEEDS To Be Talked About More

It brings light on issues that so many people avoid, which is exactly why it needs to be talked about.
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There aren’t a lot of shows out there that show the “ugly,” raw, real side of things like sexual assault, depression, suicide, drug use and violence.

This may be because these things are hard to talk about, so not talking about them is a solution, which isn’t ideal.

Both seasons of "13 Reasons Why" on Netflix cover these topics, and despite the backlash, it has gotten, I fully believe it is a show that needs to be seen and talked about more often.

Because of season one, there are trigger warnings in some of the episodes in season two. These warnings advise of depictions of drug use, sexual assault and more. There are even excerpts of the cast talking at the end of each one with a website to go to if you or someone you know needs help.

Sexual assault is one of the bigger pictures that is touched upon in this series, from both female and male perspectives without giving anything away. This is SO important, especially including an incident involving a male because it shows that sexual assault can affect everyone, regardless of who you are.

Even though none of the characters came right out and said they were struggling with mental illnesses, many of the signs and symptoms are there.

I see it way too often on social media and in some movies and television shows; depression and other mental illnesses are romanticized and make it seem as if these issues are not a big deal, but the truth is, they are.

This show explores the side of mental illnesses that aren’t often seen, and even though it can be hard to watch, it needs to be shown in order for us to start a conversation about it. By talking about it, it can help end the stigma that surrounds mental health and hopefully encourages people to get the help they need.

By showing Hannah’s suicide scene at the end of season one, it’s understandable that it may be triggering to those who have survived suicide attempts, but again, it’s important and serves as a conversation starter for those who may not know how to talk about it or their feelings.

It also touches base on not only how Hannah herself feels, but how others are affected by her suicide. We see how Clay, Jessica, Alex and so many other characters deal with the loss, mostly in season two, but we also see how her parents are handling it.

I think diving deeper into the feelings of others after a loved one has committed suicide is important and can show that one’s decision to end their life may end their pain, but passes it onto their loved ones. It’s hopefully an eye-opener to those who are struggling and shows that their loved ones will be left with pain and questions that may never get answered, just like some of the characters in the show.

Again, without giving anything away to anyone who’s yet to see the second season, there are some instances of drug use which can also be a trigger for anyone who may be recovering or comes from a family that uses drugs.

"13 Reasons Why" shows a side of drug use that is frightening, nauseating and heartbreaking all at once with the intention to show what can happen if you fall into a life of drugs. It also shows that no matter how long you are clean, you relapse sometimes, which is all apart of recovery.

It’s no secret that violence plays a big part in this show - and a lot of stems from anger, nervousness and many other emotions and events throughout the show. A lot of times there are consequences that follow these instances of violence and can show that your actions can come back to bite you.

If you are sensitive to the subjects mentioned above, then "13 Reasons Why" may not be ideal for you to view alone, but if you want to see how these subjects are portrayed, I highly recommend watching it with a trusted friend, parent or adult.

I’ve seen way too many times where these subjects were not talked about because it’s hard to, because people don’t know what to say or people can’t find the words to say, and that’s not okay anymore.

There is a negative stigma surrounding all of these issues that need to be broken, and it starts with "13 Reasons Why."

It’s ok not to be ok. It’s ok to be hurt, sad and angry. There are people out there who love you, care about you and want you to get the help you need.

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, please reach out to someone you trust or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. The Lifeline is available 24 hours a day. Your call will remain confidential.

Cover Image Credit: 13 Reasons Why Official Instagram

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