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From A Cinderella Story to She’s All That, Hollywood has created an industry of romantic movies. The basic storyline is always the same — a girl is painfully shy and insecure until she is rescued by a boy and poof! She’s happy. There’s no spiritual metamorphosis (unless the occasional makeover counts), nor character development. Quite frankly, there’s no pursuit of self-love.

While romantic movies are not inherently bad, they can set a dangerous precedent of young women needing a man’s validation to be happy. They enforce the idea that being single is synonymous with being sad and cause viewers to question their current situation. Although watching one movie is not likely to alter a viewer’s confidence, indulging in a plethora of “fairytales” can infringe on the journey of self-development.

It’s important to note that watching romantic movies doesn’t make viewers any less of a feminist. Women can achieve their goals during the day and daydream about love at night. The problem occurs when the habit of watching romantic movies causes a shift in priorities. In other words, it causes women to place men above themselves. That is all.

Although some progress has been made in movies like Someone Great and Lady Bird, movies are still overwhelmingly relationship-centric, or place full emphasis on finding the one. Even movies with the intent to sexually liberate women, like American Pie: Girls Rule, end with the inference that each character falls in love. Needless to say, it’s time to rewrite the narrative. 

I want to see a movie about a girl who catches feelings after a hook-up only to get ghosted the next day. It happens. I want to see a movie about a girl who gets broken up with and finds happiness on her own. It’s challenging, but it happens. I want to see a movie about a girl who explores her sexuality, not for the sake of a man, but for herself. Despite some infuriating gender constructs, it happens

Movies help viewers navigate the complexities of the world. They expose what is accepted and what is scoffed upon. If Hollywood fails to represent young women as evolving, independent characters, viewers will never believe they can stand happily on their own.

Hunter is a journalism student at Michigan State University. With a concentration in broadcast media and a minor in Spanish, she is passionate about storytelling and creating empathy through understanding.
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