So I’ve never stalked anyone in my life before (not even on Facebook; in fact, I recently disabled my account, so I am now 100 percent stalk-free), but I suppose at some point in a person’s life, she can make an exception.

There’s this girl who lives in my dorm — let’s just call her Zooey, after Zooey Deschanel — who has the best wardrobe ever. She’s just this everyday girl: straight brown hair, straight brown bangs, normal height, normal weight. But for some unfathomable reason, I adore her. I don’t know her, and she definitely doesn’t know me, but I cannot describe the mixture of jealousy and admiration I feel whenever I pass her on the street.

I’m not going to say this isn’t creepy, because it is. And I really hope she doesn’t read this.

Not that I follow her around or anything like that. But I’ve kept a running tally in my head of the things she owns that I love. She has these slouchy brown boots — the kind so buttery and rich you could spread them on toast — and two coats, one fluttery red and one forest green with toggles. She wears gorgeous chiffon dresses, colored tights and hair bows atop her head. (I need to stop before I get carried away.) If anyone else saw her walking across the Diag, they’d just consider her a pretty, well dressed individual and move on. But to me, she’s that girl.

That girl, the kind of girl I wish I could be, living the life I wish I could live, dressing how I wish I would dress. I know that’s such a MySpace thing to say, but you know what I mean. The kind who you watch from afar and secretly admire. The kind who wears the clothes you wish you could wear, probably has the conversations you wish you could have. It’s not even about who she really is. I don’t particularly want to meet that girl. It’s about the way you see her through your own distorted lens, the screwed-up perceptions that you superimpose upon her. This particular girl might not be your that girl, but you do have one, whether you realize it or not.

When was the last time you jealously listened in on a conversation in the Union and wished you were part of it? When was the last time you passed someone on the street dressed so amazingly well and wished not only that you owned her skirt, but her entire outfit and her entire closet? All of these elements factor into your image of that girl, the kind of person you dream to be. That girl is not a celebrity, but she’s somehow tangible, even though she’s a complete stranger. And the greatest thing is, it doesn’t matter what she’s really like. The thing she represents — that’s greater than the person herself.

Contemporary cinema has an explanation for this sort of ridiculousness. It’s called the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, a term coined by A.V. Club critic Nathan Rabin as “that bubbly, shallow cinematic creature that exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.” You know what kind I mean. She has no dimensions save for being extraordinarily cute, well dressed and cultured. Natalie Portman in “Garden State.” Zooey Deschanel in “(500) Days of Summer.” Rachel Bilson in “The O.C.,” pre-environmentalist-Brown-student craziness. Gorgeous wardrobe, awesome taste in music, film, whatever.

And if guys can dream about getting the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, girls can certainly dream about being her, right?

But really, the concept of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl is bullshit. Do guys really think that if they meet a girl who dresses a certain way and has the same taste in music as them that she is automatically the one? Just look at poor Tom in “(500) Days” (despite my gripes about it, I actually really like that movie). Was that bitch Summer really, truly the love of his life? Or was she a chick that happened to be cute and seemed to check all the requisite “dream girl” boxes? Conversely, do I automatically think that if I looked like that girl, I, too, would lead the perfect life?

When it boils down to it, we live in a culture that increasingly values style over substance. We want to make automatic snap judgments about people because it’s easier, and it makes more sense to like a person based on the way he or she looks or the stuff he or she does. If someone likes the same movies and books and music as you do, you feel compelled to like the person. Never mind if this person is really an asshole.

It’s times like this that I want to say “Stop. It’s not about the clothes. It’s not about the stuff you like. It’s about the person and the values that are inside.” We’re just conditioned to think about the superficial things that define us and too lazy to make an effort to really get to know a person. So we make up this cheap substitute to make us feel better. And consequently, we resort to inventing this ideal person who we want to look, feel and act like. Frankly, it’s ridiculous.

Yet despite all my heavy handed moralizing, I can’t change. I refuse to change. Is it so wrong that I have this vision of the kind of person I’ve wanted to become since I was a little girl? That girl is merely a fleshed-out version of that image, and I just can’t let go of it.

I still want to be that girl.

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