Recently, I was asked by a women’s relationship website to recap how all of us are Bridget Jones in some way. The reason for the assignment was, in case you don’t already know, Helen Fielding has written another chapter in the life of the beloved character. I took the assigned topic without question, because it’s true – most women do have quite a bit of Bridget in them. If that had not been the case, then the books and eventual movies would have fallen flat and I wouldn’t be writing this right now.
But as I worked on that particular piece, I realized that despite her divine quirkiness and adorable flaws, she isn’t exactly the best role model for single women. I’m not suggesting all role models should be perfect like Hillary Clinton, but they should offer a bit more than Bridget. And as a single woman myself, I know this to be fact because single women are always right. Or at least this is what I tell my married friends – whom I then force to agree with me by withholding any further cupcake baking and distribution. It always works. But I digress.
Let’s look at a few examples where Bridget falls flat. Perhaps, if we’re to learn anything from her at all, it’s the complete opposite of what she often represents. You don’t have to agree with me on these points, but then again, you’ve never had my cupcakes so you’ve nothing to truly lose.
The Whole “Fat” Thing: While Bridget’s struggles with her weight – although she’s not fat by any means – are completely relatable to the vast majority of women of all sizes, thanks to a society that has tried to convince us we should all be a size 0, her obsession with it is far from healthy. If the past couple years have taught us anything about weight, it’s that skinny isn’t always better.
With women like Lena Dunham, Mindy Kaling, Melissa McCarthy and Rebel Wilson taking a stand not only against fat-shaming, but by not giving a damn about what the critics say, a page has been turned in the fight for body acceptance. Women who may have an extra “bit of love” – and I can’t believe I actually have (re: society’s expectations) to say that in regards to any body that might exceed a size 6 as it’s so far from fat it’s ridiculous – are finally embracing it. And we totally should. Women of all shapes and sizes are fucking hot; diversity is awesome and let’s hope in the next book Bridget will have received the memo about this fact, too.
Boss Fucking: Um, no. Never, ever a good idea even if it’s just to get laid because you haven’t in, oh, let’s say a decade. Thinking of trying to make that into a relationship on top of fucking? Seriously? This is not behavior that’s ever OK, even if your boss is Ryan Gosling.
Stupid New Year’s Resolutions: Oh, so very cute in theory, but if history has taught the world anything at all, it’s that resolutions exist just so you can fail. That failure is exemplified especially when such importance is put on them because it’s the beginning of a new year. This isn’t model behavior; this is banal bullshit. Sure, self-improvement is great! But why be so formulaic about it? Be a rebel, buck the norm and if you need to resolve things in your life, choose May 13th or some other random day. Who’s a maverick now? You are.
What A Walking Stereotype: It’s true that stereotypes exist for a reason, but should a female character who’s regarded by some as both a role model and heroine totally embrace that facet? Wouldn’t a true role model to whom women should be aspiring to be, carve her own path in the world without the pre-transcribed notions of what Hollywood has told us we should be? Yes.
Bridget Jones’s Diary is chick lit, but there’s a line between entertainment and succumbing to the masses. I don’t drink when my heart is broken, do you? Of course not; no, never. I don’t even know what vodka tastes like.
Man Obsessed: Yes, we all want to be in love. For many, the end goal in life is a happy marriage, partnership or something that is permanently intertwined by either pen on paper or at least shared offspring, but it doesn’t need to be an obsession.
Women need to stop defining their worth by whether or not they are someone’s girlfriend, wife or partner. It’s like that old saying: “It will happen when you’re not looking.” That, or you’ll just walk into a wall.
Lacks Gumption: Overly confrontational people are never a good thing, but Bridget Jones is consistently put down, tripped over, humiliated, and ridiculed but doesn’t make a peep about it for far too long. This is a woman in her 30s for fuck’s sake! Shouldn’t she have grown a backbone by now? When someone says in front of you, about you, “I thought you said she was thin,” you don’t just walk away; you throw down! I’m not advocating violence; I’m advocating self-respect.
If you can make an awkward public speech at any given inappropriate moment, you should be able to hold your own and put cruel people in their place when they intentionally kick you in the vagina.
Mr. Darcy Is A Figment: Jane Austen tried to dupe us once and Helen Fielding tried to do it again – for shame! Although historically these two characters were based on real people, there’s a huge difference between “based” and “actual.” If you don’t believe me, look it up in a dictionary and you can see for yourself.
If you’re waiting for Mr. Darcy because you read it in a book somewhere, you’re going to wait a lifetime. You’ll end up dressed to the nines with no place to go, a rotting cake on the table and an adopted daughter you’ll use as revenge on the male gender, and no one wants that because that story has already been written.
Mr. Darcy doesn’t exist; he will never exist. Even the most flawed-turned-perfect characters in novels are still just that: characters. Human beings aren’t perfect. I know it’s a tough pill to swallow, but it’s a fact; and as I pointed out earlier, single women are always right. Always. Even if Bridget Jones isn’t likely to agree, but she hasn’t had my cupcakes either.