Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Ice Princess Dream Girl

In my previous post I discussed the Manic Pixie Dream Girl (MPDG) character that some women (mostly feminists) dislike in films. For example, the character of Zooey Deschanel in (500) Days of Summer. One blogger asked the question, Who is the Black Zooey Deschanel? I think that Black women are rarely depicted as MPDGs in films (I can't think of any roles) but instead they are cast as "Ice Princess Dream Girls" (IPDGs; my label).

Unlike MPDGs the Ice Princess is usually the lead character in films and is often a successful, career oriented, strong, independent Black woman who either doesn't want a man, or can't find a man good enough for her. She may have a negative attitude as well. Then she encounters a man, usually less successful than she is, blue collar, or less attractive than she is. The Ice Princess initially rejects the man but he pursues her tirelessly. His role is to win the Ice Princess, show her that her career achievements or popularity will not bring her the happiness he can, and bring out her nurturing, feminine, soft side. IPDG films include Deliver Us From Eva, Something New, I Can Do Bad All by Myself, Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Love Don't Cost a Thing, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, The Bodyguard, and probably many others. In these roles the male characters are less developed but infinitely wise and it is the female characters who are somehow deficient. In other cases where the man is the lead character, the Ice Princess's sole purpose is to show the man that he is chasing the wrong woman to be his trophy and he should consider the "nice girl" or "best friend" instead. Films like this include Boomerang, Brown Sugar, and Woo (I think). I think that many White women are also cast in the IPDG role too (e.g., New in Town, Overboard, Bed of Roses, Some Kind of Wonderful).

I am not sure if this is a case of art imitating life or life imitating art because many successful Black women are feeling pressured into the Ice Princess role! Successful, educated Black women are being pressured to lower their standards and date less successful and educated men. They are being told that they are single because they are too masculine, fake, or career oriented or that they have bad attitudes. Men are implying that these women need to change and that love (specifically Black love) is all we should require of a man. These men also advocate that we adopt the submissive role of letting them lead while at the same time taking the dominant role of helping them succeed.

Potential Black Manic Pixie Dream Girls
I do think that there are Black celebrities who could be cast as Manic Pixies. A Black Manic Pixie could wear the same feminine clothing as White Manic Pixies like Zooey Deschanel (except for the ones with the rainbow hair). In films they may also take on the bohemian look. In my mind I see these characters with adorable natural hair (maybe with flowers in it, I know I'm biased), a bubbly personality (quirky and cute) with no attitude, edge, or hardness, and a job as an artist or other creative or low-stress jobs (e.g., waitress, hairdresser). I think that Black Manic Pixies would be appropriate for interracial roles because they may be very attractive to White men but less so for Black men. These are the types of women who will be accused of "dressing and acting White", they will have multicultural friends, and they won't be into hip hop music or lifestyle (they would probably listen to rock, pop, retro music, or neo soul lol).

I think that other than the career thing, I might look like a Manic Pixie which is probably why I like them! I date interracially; dress in a feminine manner; have natural hair; I am quirky because of my love of cute things, science fiction/horror movies, and blogging; I listen to retro music and pop; and if my favorite songs come on I may spontaneously dance or call out the song title! Examples of celebrities who could pull off this role are Thandie Newton (I think probably has), Corinne Bailey Rae, Lisa Bonnet, Zoe Kravitz, Solange Knowles, and Jada Pinkett-Smith. Lynn from Girlfriends is a good television example. The great examples I would say are Andy Allo (images) and Esperanza Spalding (images) and you can see what I mean if you look at their photos. They look like nice, carefree, artsy, eccentric, feminine women who could be muses for any man. Below I have posted some outfits that Black women could wear to get the Manic Pixie look. I did not include any bohemian or punk styles because I'm not fond of that look :)


  1. Hi, This was a really good article. It made me think of all the options/choices that exist for women who happen to be Black.

    I like how you presented this information in a non-confrontational manner but more in a manner of "matter of fact". Meaning, your discussion was warm and approachable.

    I am outside of the age range so to speak to be a "pixie" girl..but I deeply appreciate this information and the fact that younger women who happen to be Black can take this information in and make excellent use of it.

    Keep up the great discussions here at your blog.


  2. Great post! I love those dresses!

    Mary Ellen
    The Working Home Keeper

  3. So funny I hadn't seen this post when I wrote about Zoey Deschanel so I guess we are on the same page when it comes to manic pixie dream girl.

  4. I don't think Jada has the look. She has more of a harder edge.

    And your right about hip-hop for the most part has become pure trash. Talking about blk women like we're garbage.

  5. I call the films mentioned in your first paragraph male fairy tales, because the bottom line is any regular guy regardless of looks, fitness level, hygiene, or earning capability will get The Girl. Even if she is out of his league. And encourages women esp BW to lower their standards.