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Self-Identity In My Big Fat Greek Wedding

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The movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” is a film that resembles the struggles of relationships with conflicting cultures and beliefs among families. Toula, the main character comes from a Greek background with her parents being strict about traditions and belief. She finds a boyfriend that she loves very much named Ian, who doesn’t come from the same ethnic background as Toula and that is frowned upon within her family. In the film, we witness Toula having troubles finding who she is and how she can differ from her family and cultural background. She attempts this battle with her self-identity by dating Ian, who would not be approved by her family. She goes through multiple challenges to keep her love life away from her family. Toula’s personal encounters shows her struggle in self-identity, which leads to her growth in her relationship and to express emotions. The conflicts in their families cause roadblocks to communication within their relationship.

Struggles With the Identity

The beginning of the movie opens with the main character, Toula reflecting on her childhood. During this time, she reveals to the audience past experiences and struggles. In this, we are shown how she struggles with her identity and see the kind of person she is. Throughout this scene, we notice Toula has struggles with who she is as a person. Toula’s experience is an example of self-disclosure. Self-disclosure is when personal information is revealed to an audience. This is shown as when we are shown a background of Toula and her attempts to meet her parent’s expectations. This is a huge struggle for her because she wants to find out who she is as a person and being different then what her parents want her to be. Toula past is also shown to have struggle when relating to other students. She tries to fit in by self-comparing herself to the other students, who are referred to as “blonde and delicate”. Self-comparing is when you look at differences between you and others. Through her act of self-comparison, she created an idea of what she wanted to become. This lead up to her struggling about what her ideal self is. Ideal self an image of ourselves that we perceive to be better. Through her ambitions of seeking her ideal self, she keeps her roots about being Greek hidden from friends and her own boyfriend Ian. This conflicts with her family’s cultural belief as she shows struggle with her ought self. Ought self are the expectations held against by others, most commonly found amongst family members. Through her family’s cultural belief, Toula is expected to get married to another Greek man so she could carry on her family’s Greek culture. This strictly contradicts her ideal self because she has a different vision of what she wants to do and who she wants to be by distancing herself from her Greek culture.

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Emotion Connection

As the movie’s storyline continued to grow, we saw Ian and Toula’s relationship to grow as well. The first scene shows commitment in Toula when she feels awkward about sharing her background and who is she is to Ian, but soon feels like she could open to him resulting in their relationship being more serious. Their relationships reach new levels when she emotion shares her thought and feelings. This is a big step in their relationship as she was reluctant to reveal stuff in the beginning but felt open and comfortable later in the relationship. Emotion sharing is revealing to others our deep thoughts and emotions. It creates a deeper connection amongst people and goes further than a friend relationship. Their emotional connection is strengthened as they both reveal their thoughts and feelings to one another on the bridge. Toula starts with explaining her fears about her family and how she is afraid the relationship will not work because of the expectations set by her parents. How she is expected to marry and Greek and her fears that her family will never accept their relationship. Ian responds by explaining how strongly he feels for her and wants to continue and try to make things work. Toula was very immersed when keeping her relationship away from her family. She knew they wouldn’t approve so she used encounter structuring. Encounter structuring is when you try to avoid emotion that is unwanted by avoiding future topics of discussion with others. She used this tactic with Ian as well so she could avoid the conversation about who her family is and how they act. Toula had to open to Ian about who her family was and she had to express her feelings about her family. Feelings is when you have a reaction to a certain idea or topic that makes you feel happy, sad, anger, or arousal. She expresses her family’s obnoxious behavior and how nosey they can be in her own personal life. Ian also enacts in sharing feelings about how he feels about Toula. The relationship progresses and there were intimate moments between the two. Toula is uncomfortable with inviting Ian in that she results in encounter avoidance. Encounter avoidance is when you stay away from people, places to avoid unwanted emotions. Toula would rather avoid the conflict of her family meeting her boyfriend because she knew it would contradict against her own family’s belief. The relationship in this scene was communicated well by expressing their feelings and emotion to one another. Toula expresses why the relationship could possibly not work but Ian’s determination to be with her allowed their intimacy to improve within each other.

A Conflict of Beliefs

There is a scene within the movie that informs us more on the families of Ian and Toula. Ian and Toula’s parents are meeting each other in this scene. Ian’s parents arrive to Toula’s family house and for introduction. Their communication to each other was very strange and different from each other’s. In this scene, there is a conflict with different rules and believes amongst the families. Family is a group who share experiences and memories with by those who are related through blood, or marriage. Toula’s family was seen being more obnoxious for the simple facts that they are Greek, and no family is the same. They have different opinions and rules from Ian and his American family. Ian’s family is extremely different because they are a Laissez-Faire family. Laissez-Faire family is when families are characterized by low levels of conformity and conversation. Within that scene, Toula’s father introduces the family to Ian’s family and through it all, Ian’s family was extremely quiet and didn’t speak up. His parents always believed that Ian could be independent, so they allow him to make his own decisions. Toula’s family is quite different and would be opposite from Ian’s family which would make them more of a Consensual Family. Consensual Family motivates debate and open views and information amongst themselves. As the same example before, when Ian’s parents were meeting Toula’s parents for the first time, it was easy to tell that her parents were the head and power of their house and Toula’s father immediately greets them and introduces them to their family. Both families have other conflicts about who their family is and how they interact and talk about themselves. Both families have ways of showing family privacy rules. Family privacy rules is when family members can discuss topics and who around them should have access to private information around the family. Ian’s family doesn’t share much about them and keeps to themselves. They result in showing that Ian’s family has a better way of acting in privacy rules. On the other hand, Toula’s family has some problem with privacy, and within the scene Voula, Toula’s aunt, shares personal knowledge and there is a limit on what should be said. Communication was not very well executed because there was such a big difference between the two families. Toula’s family has shared private information with Ian’s family which is private information not meant to be shared. Ian didn’t do a lot of interaction and if there were more of an equal contribution to communication then the problem wouldn’t have been so awkward.

Powering Through the Conflicts and Understanding the Identity

In the end, both families have grown to be with each other and to understand the differences between them which made Ian and Toula’s relationship grow even more. Toula was able to understand who she is and what her self-identity is. She shows many struggles whether that comes from trying to be different from her family, maintain a relationship, or trying to keep the order and conformity of families. Toula and Ian were able to power through these conflicts by going through a relationship with very different families but in the end they were able to love each other and love each other’s family despite the cultural clash between the two.


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