Keep Your Fairytales — WENS Is No One’s Cinderella

Photo: Brandon Bowen.
Welcome to The Drop, Refinery29's home for music video premieres. We want to shine the spotlight on women artists whose music inspires, excites, and (literally) moves us. This is where we'll champion their voices.
In her first music video ever, premiering here on Refinery29, WENS takes on the Cinderella complex. It's a real thing, and the subject of a book by Colette Dowling, exploring the unconscious need some women feel to be taken care of and their fear of independence. For WENS, it was about getting over her worries that she is a little different.
Growing up in Southern California, but not looking like the stereotypical blonde and beach-y type, WENS has explored the feelings of being an outsider. What she found was that being not quite like everyone else wasn't a burden — it was awesome.
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Ahead, WENS talks to Refinery29 about setting her own agenda for her love life, embracing the brown-skinned Disney princess roles foisted on her in childhood, and her love of Flamin' Hot Cheetos.
Refinery29: Tell me about writing this song. Where did your inspiration come from?
WENS: "It started with the guitar riff, which put me in a fairytale world. I remember mumbling/singing 'never ever gonna be Cinderella.' At first, I thought it was a little absurd, but the more I thought about it, I realized it's such a true statement to myself. It embodies a few meanings, but the main one for me is: I was raised to feel like I didn't need to be saved by any man in my life. My mom drilled that into me at a young age. The Cinderella complex is interesting because it teaches some kids that you can be rescued by someone and have a fairytale ending to feel whole. I don't believe in that. I think it's much more valuable to be confident in yourself first."
Was it the guitar that made you think of fairytales or was this concept something you'd been thinking of?
"When I make music, it's very spur of the moment. I try to take a sound or chord progression and, whatever it makes me feel like, I take it and run with it. The initial reaction to me is always where the magic is — I know that probably sounds a little cheesy. I never sat down and said I want to write a song about never being Cinderella. The chord progression brought the idea out of me."
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I understand the video was you and a friend coming up with visuals for this song?
"Yeah. I thought it was important to showcase the two different versions of myself. I like the idea of having a reality and fantasy world. My reality is being alone in my room, eating Flamin' Hot Cheetos and completely content. I'm fantasizing not about a fairytale happy ending where some guy sweeps me off my feet like a knight in shining armor. I'm fantasizing about being an alien on the moon, still by myself and perfectly content. It's important to show that there's a confidence in both of those, the fantasy and the reality — that being alone with myself is content and happy.
"I have a lot of friends who prioritize romantic love. They talk about being married and fantasize about the white dress and the kid. I've just never felt that way. It's so easy to think that way when we have movies that show us that, so I feel that it's important to show the other half for women who don't need that."
Is your fantasy in the video a metaphor for feeling like an outsider with your friends?
"That's what it is — although I do have an obsession with aliens."
I do too, I watch every alien invasion movie that comes out no matter how bad it is.
"I'm just so intrigued. They have to be real. [laughs]"
Yeah, just statistically.
"But really, I've always felt like an outsider with my friends and it wasn't a bad thing. I eventually owned up to it. If you asked my friends about me, they would probably say that I'm weird. [Laughs] But in the best way possible! I remember being younger when we'd talk about dressing up as [Disney] princesses. They'd say I could be Jasmine or Pocahontas. It resonated with me because — first of all, all the princesses are great, don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to hate on that. But it was always funny that because I have brown skin and hair, I was automatically pigeonholed into those two princesses. I ended up liking it, because, I thought If you think I'm those, then I'm different. And different is good. It's important to take power in that stance."
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So where did you shoot this video? How did you do the makeup for your alien look and most importantly, what happened to those Flamin' Hot Cheetos? Were they eaten?
"I definitely ate some of the Cheetos, but there were a lot so I couldn't have them all [laughs]. The makeup, I remember it was all green and red at first because I was wearing a red dress. It was a little too Christmas-y, so we did a cool green and black combo. That was the best part, I loved having the makeup done. And our director had her friend cook for us, so instead of having catered food we had a homecooked meal, which you never get a set. It was nice."
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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