In the spirit of the New Year I have decided to cast off my sluggish blogging of the past and leap into 2011 with a positive, self-starting attitude bolstered by a list of resolutions. My list includes reading more, writing more, and general self improvement. (I must even admit to being one of the flock of people who bought a gym membership today.)
In an attempt to kick-start the reading resolution, I have joined the Chick Lit Plus Blogs Chick Lit Reading Challenge 2011! The challenge is to read at least 12 chick lit books this year including two books from debut authors released in 2011. The blog creator, Samantha will be writing about new releases for 2011 so there will be a lot of great info over at Chick Lit Plus!
Having recently completed Emily Giffin’s ‘Something Borrowed‘ I have decided that my first book of the challenge will be Giffin’s ‘Something Blue‘.
And in an attempt to kick-start the writing resolution I think that there is no other subject of chick lit more appropriate to discuss than Bridget Jones and her diary. Now, as I have mentioned before at first read I hated Bridget Jones. My complaints rested on her obsession with weight and finding a man. I even wrote on the first page of the book,
I believe these books are harmful to women.
My hatred for Bridget seethed with every page turned. There are frantic, raging comments scribbled in the margins, entire sections bracketed with ‘WTF!?’ and my response paper for the class was written as a letter addressed to Helen Fielding chastising her for providing women with such a poor role model. Only in retrospect do I realize I was participating in hand wringing along the lines of “Won’t Someone Please Think of the Children?” At this point it would seem I had little respect for the intelligence of women.
By now we all know about Bridget. The 30-something singleton who is unhappy with her job, her weight, her smoking and drinking, and is tormented by her “smug married” friends begins to write a diary in an attempt to reinvent herself. In the meantime she lusts after her boss, Daniel, tries to avoid Mark Darcy, and endures her mother’s mounting late life crisis.
Bridget, no matter how hard she tries, is not perfect and my hypothesis is that this is the reason I disliked her. Her mistakes, poor judgment, crappy body image, issues with men, and tense mother/daughter relationship make Bridget more real and more like myself than I cared to admit. I wanted to keep blaming Bridget for all her problems. However, around halfway through the book something changed. At chapter “July – Huh” I had written on the back of the chapter title page,
Perhaps this image of Bridget as ‘unstable’ displays the double bind that many women find themselves in when living in a patriarchal culture that tells them to do one thing while also being another. Wouldn’t anyone seem neurotic under such scrutiny? Women are constructed to look crazy and then blamed for it.
The pin had dropped and suddenly I reevaluated the entire book, even the entire genre of chick lit! I re-read Bridget Jones a few months ago and greatly enjoyed it. Bridget is about pointing out the problems that women deal with through wit and humor. In an interview Fielding states that,
We’ve got to be able to have comic heroines without being so terribly anxious about what it says. We’re not equal if we’re not allowed to laugh at ourselves. (Book Browser)
Ever since that moment I have been attempting to embrace my inner Bridget. And so, I make my New Years resolutions with a slight grin as I think about Bridget and her year of “self-improvement.” I wonder about the successes and the failures that await my freshly listed resolutions to better myself and readily dive into a new year. Happy 2011, everyone! I hope it is full of pleasant surprises!
Fielding, Helen. Bridget Jones’s Diary. London: Penguin Putnam, Inc., 1998. Print.
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