Colette Dowling (c. 1938) is an American writer best known for her 1981 book The Cinderella Complex: Women's Hidden Fear of Independence, which was a New York Times best-seller. She has a psychotherapy practice in New York.
- Women are brought up to depend on a man and to feel naked and frightened without one. We have been taught to believe that as females we cannot stand alone, that we are too fragile, too delicate, too needful of protection.
- "The Cinderella Syndrome", The New York Times (22 March 1981)
- There's something spectacularly freeing about acknowledging that one has both resources and limitations, and that both of these give shape to one's life.
- Perfect Women: Hidden Fears of Inadequacy and the Drive to Perform (1988), p. 249
The Cinderella Complex: Women's Hidden Fear of Independence (1981)
- [Women] were not trained for freedom at all, but for its categorical opposite—dependency.
- p. 3
- Males are educated for independence from the day they are born.
- p. 16
- We have only one real shot at "liberation," and that is to emancipate ourselves from within. It is the thesis of this book that personal, psychological dependency—the deep wish to be taken care of by others—is the chief force holding women down today. I call this "The Cinderella Complex"—a network of largely repressed attitudes and fears that keeps women in a kind of half-light, retreating from the full use of their minds and creativity. Like Cinderella, women today are still waiting for something external to "transform their lives".
- p. 31
- [The Cinderella Complex] used to hit girls of sixteen or seventeen, preventing them, often, from going to college, hastening them into early marriages. Now it tends to hit women after college—after they've been out in the world awhile. When the first thrill of freedom subsides and anxiety rises to take its place, they begin to be tugged by that old yearning for safety: the wish to be saved.
- pp. 69–70
- Only after she begins to disengage from her belief in her own helplessness can she break out of the vicious cycle of dependency and its brutal effect in her life.
- p. 114
- Lack of confidence leads us into the dark waters of envy. We see men are functioning without hang-ups—and like girls who envy the unfettered freedom of older brothers, we find it easier to focus on how "lucky" the men are and how "unlucky" we are. Sequestered in an unfair situation, we don't have to do anything about achieving the competence and self-esteem we so admire in others.
- p. 128
- The woman who has sprung free has emotional mobility. She is able to move toward the things that are satisfying to her and away from those that are not. She is free, also, to succeed.
- pp. 228–229
The Frailty Myth: Women Approaching Physical Equality (2000)
- If girls could do nothing else in this world, they were supposed to be able to keep their blood from showing.
- p. 40
- Female physical frailty is not a reality but a myth with an agenda.
- p. 213