The idea of finding true love is quickly vanishing from the expectations of many modern women. The Cinderella story has always been every little girl’s romantic desire. Seemingly, the institution of marriage has become decreasingly common among couples. College-aged women are more focused on becoming career women, as that is more realistic than becoming wives and mothers. It’s as if marriage is becoming taboo, and more couples are opting for the life-long single life, open relationships or domestic partnerships over getting married.
I remember my father reading me stories such as The Princess and the Pea, Snow White and Cinderella as a little girl, and having visions in my head of princes and knights in shining armor rescuing a damsel in distress. Today the equivalent of a prince in fairy tales would be a gentleman with traditional values of treating a lady like a lady, owning up to his role of being a man and what that means in terms of family, respecting and placing his wife and family only after God, and having the ability to provide a comfortable life for his family. Even though the concept of a prince has evolved from a savior on a beautiful white horse to a man with a job and a clean record; a prince in our age is still hoped for, sought after and a dream come true.
I remember thinking that as I grew old, which in a 5 year old girl’s mind is at about the age of 20, I would also meet a prince who would ride into the city on a beautiful white horse, and carry me away to his palace to live…that’s right, happily ever after. As I graduated high school, then graduated college, and then got out into the working world, reality began to hit. I saw more and more beautiful young women, especially Black women, as single women or single mothers. I wondered why so many beautiful, intelligent Black women on their way to success were struggling with finding their Mr. Right? I observed how Black women of a certain age who were tired of waiting began to seek out Mr. Right Now’s until Mr. Right showed. Sometimes their Mr. Right Now’s, though not fully equipped to care for a family, become their children’s fathers or “baby’s daddy”. This leaves these women with the title of “single mother”.
I began to get saddened about this state of my beautiful Black sisters, and as I looked more statistics I realized that there are more single women compared to single men. We can argue the many factors that have caused this rift in our population, but simply put, many women will live lives having never been married. According to a recent Yale study, 42 percent of African-American women have yet to be married, compared to only 23 percent of white women. There’s also a gap in numbers. The 2000 U.S. Census counted 1.8 million more African-American women than African-American men. (ABC Nightline News) Should mothers stop telling their daughters these tails of princes and happily ever afters? Should they now set their expectations to not expect true love or finding a Mr. Right? The thought is so dismal.
Every woman that I know ranks the movie Pretty Woman with Julia Roberts as one of their all time favorite movies. Even the most feminist, independent woman alive, enjoys a good romance novel or film in which the woman meets the man of her dreams and they live happily ever after. Another movie that almost every woman I meet falls in love with instantly is the movie The Notebook. The common denominator between the two movies is that a woman realizes in the end that she truly loves and doesn’t want to live without this man that came into her life. A prince isn’t always a man with the biggest house, most expensive car, and most handsome body. Sometimes a prince is the person that comes into your life at just the right time. In The Notebook, her prince wasn’t the wealthy man she was going to marry, but he was her true soul-mate. In Pretty Woman, Richard Gere was the prince, and he happened to be rich and good looking, but overall he was the man who Julia Roberts truly fell in love with, despite trying very hard not to, and she couldn’t live without him.
Ask any woman to truly be honest with you, and she will tell you if single that she is praying for her king to appear, but in the meantime she is being a self-sufficient queen. Sometimes I ask myself if the Cinderella story has died. If it has died, is there any hope for it being raised from the dead? Can it rattle its grave, shake off its zombie appearance and become the beautiful romantic ideal that women have treasured for ages? For those of us in our 20’s and early 30’s, has true, unconditional, everlasting love ended in our grandparent’s generation? Remember the days when it was common to find people celebrating their 20, 30, 40 year anniversary and more? How often do we hear about even 10 year anniversaries today? Again, the thought is so dismal.
Evolution is a natural occurrence with time. Along with evolution comes adaptation. Adaptation is physical, mental and emotional. Many of my friends today aren’t in a rush to get married. They are placing their career paths ahead of settling with just anybody. They refuse to give up on their ideals of who their prince is in their minds, especially if the man in their lives isn’t financially prepared to put on the whole armor of taking care of his family. In my opinion, I think everyone has their idea of romance. I admire my parents’ marriage of 31 years, and have witnessed true unconditional love in action. However, I know the reality is that many people my age haven’t had the opportunity to witness that. Because I have witnessed that, it’s very hard for me to completely let go of the Cinderella story.
My advice to young African-American mothers (as if I have the right to give advice) is to raise your daughters with a strong sense of self-awareness and self-esteem. Every mother should follow suit, but because the plight of loneliness has struck the African-American female community especially hard, it’s important for young Black girls to have a strong sense of self-worth. Your price tag is more than that Louis Vuitton bag that man wants you to trick for. You’re worth more than those Giuseppe Zanotti shoes that a married man will buy you to be his sugar baby or side piece. Once a woman knows her value, she’s content in being self-sufficient royalty until she meets her match. Women have so many more options than they did in the days of our grandparents, so there’s no need to rush! We party as long as we want, and if we lose our glass slipper we go to Neiman’s and buy another one! Cash not charge. So keep your heads up and wear your crown proudly, as you are royalty single or not.
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