A Simple Look at a Not-So-Simple Life

What a Girl Wants

(*Note: Navel-gazing alert.)

I absolutely love the movie, What a Girl Wants. Yes, I know it’s a teen chick flick and I’m not a teen chick anymore. Still, I love it. I watched it the first time because Anna begged me to. I did not expect to like it. I did. In fact, I liked it so much that every time I run across it playing and replaying in cable-land I stop what I’m doing and watch it. I’ve seen it, or at least parts of it, probably a dozen times. I can even recite lines from certain scenes.

So why is it that the movie makes me cry – every time – at the exact same spot near the end? I know what’s going to happen. I know what he’s going to say. It’s old hat, for pete’s sake. Still, I cry. Tonight I watched the last half hour with Gus and Mia cuddled in my lap. I kept trying to sneak a hand out from behind them to wipe the tears away before they noticed. Anna noticed, but she just rolls her eyes now because she is so used to it.

I won’t replay the plot of the movie. I will tell you that throughout the movie the young female lead tries everything she can to win the love and approval of her father. She even tries to become someone she really is not in order to get his attention. Not only do her efforts fall short, she realizes how much she has betrayed herself which leaves her feeling even more alone. At the end, the scene that always makes me cry, her father shows up unexpectedly and, fumbling with the words, finally says to her, “I love you, just the way you are. I would not change one single thing about you . . .” It is a classic father-daughter moment.

I’m not sure why it hits me so hard every time I hear those words. I have never doubted my father’s love. However, in many, many of my other relationships with men throughout my life I have not felt that same unconditional acceptance for who I am, just the way I am. I would be ashamed to admit the myriad of ways that I have tried to win affection and approval from the ones who meant the most to me. And yes, it does leave you feeling empty inside when you betray the very essence of who you are in this quest for acceptance.

“I love you, just the way you are. I would not change one single thing about you.”

Yes, I think that is indeed what this girl wants.


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