The Prince Charming Myth Busted

Thursday, July 21, 2016

“If being grounded is important, stay away from Prince Charming because he will sweep you off your feet.” 
Khang Kijarro Nguyen

A friend once pointed out how she thought fairytales had a grave impact on the minds of little girls. The thought she stirred in me is my inspiration for this post. We have all grown up reading Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel and others. A prototypical fairytale would have a damsel in distress rescued by a knight - who is an epitome of bravery, good looks and whatnot. The end of the story - and they live happily ever after. Who is this Disney Prince Charming? Does anyone know his address? Can I have his phone number? Where can I find him? Will I ever get to see him? Where is his hideout? Is he on Facebook? Hold your horses, girl! It is time to step out of your Cinderella fantasy.

This Prince Charming guy is highly sought-after; a man every woman yearns for. An ideal mate for virtually every person ever born and/or will be born; an accurate example of the Merriam Webster Dictionary's definition of the word 'perfect'; from looks to chivalry and everything in between, he is perfect. One of my friends calls him King Charming (Her reason - after crossing 25, it has to be that), and one of my other friends refers to him as Gatsby (yes! the ruthless Daisy's 'Gatsby'). So, we all have our own names for this wonderful being.

What is the point of the Prince Charming tales? The stories are written by men - the Grimm Brothers. But I do not mean to make this about the men-women rift, so all you male readers stop looking scornfully at the screen. The message taken from these fairytales is simple - a woman is unable to fix her life without a man reaching out to her rescue. And when helped through distress, the natural reaction is to fall in love with the rescuer and marry him. So, between 'once upon a time' and 'they lived happily ever after', this is all that the plot holds. The error is in the course of actions - a prince rescues a princess, rather than the latter saving herself. She endures her shares of hardship and does things to exit out of situation but ultimately it is him who takes the trophy. The message a little girl takes from these - wait in silence, don’t be proactive, he's on his way to rescue you.

Myths and sagas present men as saviors and rescuers, overcoming obstacles and coping with dreadful challenges; including slaying dragons and beasts twice their size. It cannot be denied that men are generally physically stronger than women but if the whole point is to kill a dragon or lift something heavy, then let's hunt down this guy. Myths - whether religious, social or folk - make us what we grow up to be as individuals. They shape our thinking and pave way for decision-making later in life.

I do not mean to impart pessimism to my readers - just an advice to keep your expectations in check and appreciate what life offers. It isn't wrong fantasizing an ideal man. However, this can blind you to reality. It may make you miss out on great romances if you hold every potential future mate to an impossibly high standard. Saying that you'll only pick a perfect man will be a cop-out.

Just a thought - Wouldn't Prince Charming be also searching for his Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty, so to say? We may not be a perfect encapsulation of everything he looks for in his mate. And it's really OK; we shouldn't be perfect, we cannot be. Our flaws and blemishes make us interesting. A society filled with perfect individuals is something akin to a bleak, dystopian science fiction novel - boring, right? As the old adage goes 'Be careful what you wish for' - imagine how your life would be living with a perfect individual! With that endless supply of chivalry and greatness, the prince persona would eventually wear thin. Even Shakespearean heroes have character defects. Moreover, since all fairytales end with them tying the knot, we don't know how well it works out for them afterwards (when the real adventure begins).

We all wish for that someone who sweeps us away on a black horse and lives in a castle with fancy décor and lavish wardrobe. Imagine how life would be if you do come across your Prince Charming - there would be a great amount of pressure to live up to his standards of perfection. Each day would be a challenge and let's not even get into the insecurities (and jealousy) that will accompany the pressure (And girls know what I mean). He is someone who never ages, never has mood swings, never gains weight (apparently), and probably never sweats. Oops! We would be a 'beast' with that piece of 'beauty' by our side!

Contrary to the main characters like Snow White, for instance, Prince Charming has a weak characterization, a shallow role. In most of the fairytales, he appears at the last moment and is almost mute. Would you like a man in your life who might be handsome and wealthy but not noteworthy? And who says the princess is perfect - she is powerless and helpless, waiting to be picked by a mysterious stranger; she doesn't get to choose him and she has no other choice. Besides, she is not even the purest of all women. Imagine a stranger kisses you while you were sleeping, what would be your immediate reaction? Would you jump into his arms and promise to marry him right there and then? In some fairytales, she has to rely on the kindness of a Fairy Godmother to have decent enough clothes to wear to a party. Also, luckily enough, you don't live in some godforsaken tower. And what if your fairytale goes wrong? The reverse story would be your prince transforming into a frog!

Not only do girls fall victims to this myth but also the boys. Imagine what prowess a guy has to display in order to win a girl. When it comes right down to it, a guy who knows himself and is comfortable in his own skin is way more attractive than one who can lift up a couch using one hand. No guy can ever really live up to this storybook fantasy of a man. Women and men are all real human beings with real human imperfections.

We must all oppose the whole notion of the myth. Falling prey to it means women are abdicating responsibilities for their lives, making themselves passive. Keeping expectations realistic will liberate us (men and women) from this warm, enveloping myth. And to all those who are married - the secret of happiness lies in finding the good in your man or woman and letting love cover their shortcomings.

Here is to our own real-life flawed fairytales!

You Might Also Like


  1. Perfectly and succinctly written - Just today I was talking to a friend and we were saying that we undervalue our spouses or our relationships because we compare to unrealistic standards! Even when what we may have may be perfect for us.

    1. Thank you for the comment, AI... A thought you stirred in me almost 3 years back became my inspiration for this blog :) xx

  2. This really is a good read!
    Light on heart and mind although it's carrying a lot of weight otherwise.
    Keep up ������

    1. This is exactly what I was looking for; to wrap a serious subject in light humour. I'm glad you think I achieved it. Thank you, sir :)

  3. Fortunately stumbled upon your blog while looking for something interesting to read. Your work is phenomenal. How can I contact to suggest topics, if you're open to it? Thank you!

    1. Thank you .. you'll find the contact info on the contact page :)

  4. That's a nicely written one. All have their shortcomings, both men and women.Love and adjustment makes the relationship a strong one, the fairy tales are tales to read I believe.

    1. Thank you :) they're tales to read but they need some fixing :)

  5. Absolutely love this piece, really has some interesting points. The way its written and the way it reads is so easy and comfortable. I do feel like Prince Charming as created a profile that very few men fit and therefore make it harder to find. Great article.

    1. Thank you for taking the time to read it, Thomas. Yes, the myth imposes undue pressure on men and creates an unrealistic picture of the ideal men in the minds of the women, who fall prey to this.

  6. Great article, thanks for sharing! Find someone who enjoys your imperfections, nobody is perfect!

    1. That's true, Michael.. the first step toward breaking the chains that keep us tied to the myth is the understanding of the fact that nobody is perfect and that imperfections should be celebrated as they are an integral part of the human nature. Thanks for reading the article!


Amna's Goodreads Bookshelf

To Kill a Mockingbird
Animal Farm
Of Mice and Men
The Alchemist
Me Talk Pretty One Day
Romeo and Juliet
Lord of the Flies
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The Odyssey
A Tale of Two Cities
Moby-Dick; or, The Whale
Les Misérables
Eat, Pray, Love
The Poisonwood Bible
The Joy Luck Club
The Memory Keeper's Daughter
Under the Tuscan Sun

Amna Tariq Shah's favorite books »