The most accurate definition I’ve found for "Manic Pixie Dream Girl" (and by that I mean the first definition that popped up on Google) is “a type of female character depicted as vivacious and appealingly quirky, whose main purpose within the narrative is to inspire a greater appreciation for life in a male protagonist.” (Thanks, Wikipedia!) There are loads of examples of this type of female character: Natalie Portman in "Garden State", Kirsten Dunst in "Elizabethtown", and Audrey Hepburn in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" are just a few I’ve found. The thing about these characters is that they make women just seem to be props that men can use to fulfill their emotional needs. Manic pixie dream girls are amazing! They love alternative music, dying their hair, having lots of weird sex, and subtly inspiring men to better themselves without possessing any apparent goals for their own lives.
What’s troubling about this trope is that people buy into it in real life and then “love” someone based on surface qualities alone. It’s happened to me loads of times. I have had classmates who I’ve spoken to twice me tell me they love me and want to be with me. Don’t you think that’s jumping the gun just a little bit? I get having crushes on people you’ve just met or even seen across a crowded room, but you have to get to know a person first before you can decide they’re your soul mate.
Just because I make my hair weird colors, listen to Brand New, and am overall a bubbly weirdo regardless of context, dudes think they have me all figured out. I’m going to be something different and fun for them! I’m going to take all their blues away! But you know what, dude? That kind of sucks for me because when my mental illness gets in the way, I want to be interested in mainstream stuff, or I want to focus on my life beyond how it betters yours, I can’t. I destroy your view of me and then it’s all my fault, right? I’m just not the same girl you fell for. The thing is, I was never the girl you fell for because that girl isn’t realistic. The Manic Pixie Dream Girl isn’t a person, she’s an idea of a person that no one can live up to if they’re being themselves.
If you want to watch a movie that turns the Manic Pixie Dream Girl concept on its head, I highly recommend "500 Days of Summer". This is my go-to movie when I feel like a huge bitch for turning someone down or ending things because I had to kill the fake self I was putting across and reveal that I am a human being with flaws. (Side note: never think you are going to fix someone with mental illness. This is a huge issue with guys who love Manic Pixie Dream Girls. They romanticize mental illness and that is messed up. Love isn’t a cure-all and when you expect it to be, that just exacerbates anxiety and depression.) Joseph Gordon-Levitt said it perfectly when discussing the film: "The '(500) Days of Summer' attitude of ‘He wants you so bad’ seems attractive to some women and men, especially younger ones. But I would encourage anyone who has a crush on my character to watch it again and examine how selfish he is.” I will admit when you have traits of an MPDG, it’s easy to use those to try to attract someone. It’s great to feel like you’re someone’s dream girl, but the main point here is that dreams are not reality. We all deserve someone who is willing to take the time to get to know our true selves and love us for who we really are, even when we’re more manic than dream.