Despite the obvious attempts from the creators of Bridget Jones to make her into an empowering female character and an icon for women everywhere, there has always been and there will always be a huge proportion of women, of feminists, (why aren’t they the same thing yet?) who really don’t like her, who despair at her, who are irritated by her. But I have to say, I am not one of them.
The anti-Bridgets, of which my mother is one, argue that she is a terrible role model, that she is a loser, one which we shouldn’t be looking up to, and they argue that she is not a fair or flattering depiction of women today. And whilst I can’t argue with the fact that she IS a terrible role model: she’s OBSESSED with her weight and how many calories she has eaten, she makes terrible decisions in her love life and believes that the answer to happiness is to find a man, she seems legit okay to take all forms of sexual harassment, she has inappropriate sex with inappropriate men and she has somehow made it to 30 with absolutely no ability to cook anything at all, I don’t see why her hopelessness should make us love her any less… In fact, it makes me love her more.
Katie Glass, who I normally agree with on EVERYTHING that she writes, wrote a piece in the Sunday Times last weekend about how she thinks Bridget Jones is ‘pants’, and in it she expresses her anger at Bridget for being ‘boring’, ‘awkward’ and ‘uncomfortable’ and for how she never ‘capitalises’ on her goofiness so it seems charming. She compares Bridget to Zooey Deschanel, arguing that Zooey is much better able to embrace her imperfections as her USP than Bridget is.
And in my opinion, that right there, is the problem. Because while Bridget’s are plain to see, someone needs to tell me, what exactly are Zooey’s imperfections? I LOVE New Girl and the character of Jess, but she is the furthest thing from relatable that I can think of, namely, ironically, for her lack of imperfections. Whilst she is supposed to be ‘quooky’ and different, the only thing that she is ever ridiculed for is her ‘whacky’ dress sense, upbeat attitude and love of glitter. Something which, unsurprisingly, I have never had to deal with. Zooey never cried on TV about not being able to fit in her trousers, she never fell off a piece of exercise equipment after too long in the gym, she never had a bad hair day. You know, she never had to deal with the imperfections TOO imperfect for television.
Much like with all TV these days, it’s just not even close to real. And though of course Bridget and her very unlikely house and job combination, her coming first in a slalom race her first time on skis and her ability to fascinate however many men at once are not entirely REALISTIC, there are elements of her that I can relate to better than any other character out there. There are female characters that I love, ones that I aspire to, ones that I admire and ones that I feel proud of. But there just aren’t any that get me like Bridge gets me.
Watching endless streams of women with their shit together can be exhausting. Watching them complain that they have got “fat” since they had kids, whilst sitting in a pair of size 10 jeans?Watching them moan about their “limp” hair when in reality it looks better than mine ever could? Seeing them fight bears, live through earthquakes and deal with the world’s worst hangovers, all with PERFECT MAKEUP? That’s more than unrealistic, that’s downright depressing, in a much more serious way than Bridget’s desperation to find a man will ever be.
Because Bridget IS me. She is you. She is all of us. She knows what it’s like to try and manipulate makeup onto your face in the back of a black cab, she is capable of spending hours and hours changing into various outfits and hating ALL of them, and she understands how delicious ice cream is.
And NO. This ISN’T destroying feminism. This is NOT, contrary to popular belief, undoing years of hard work for female empowerment. Because Bridget IS empowered. She has a job (which lord knows she is bad at… but that’s neither here nor there), her own house and her independence. Where is the crime in coupling that with interests shared with actual real life breathing human women in the real world? Our love for makeup. The fact that we DO stress out about our weight. That we are on the look out for love and that one day, we may well want babies?
Bridget, the character, may be defined by these things more than she is her job title, but in a world where a size 12 is not seen in any film other than as the ‘fat’ friend, is Bridget Jones maybe not just a good thing? Yes we have a laugh at her expense, yes, she IS a bit tragic and no, I really hope that I don’t ever start a fight between two love rivals that ends up in a fountain or do a stint in a Thai prison… But God I love that she is just Bridget Jones rather than a ‘Fat Amy’ or ‘Quooky Jess’ type.
By trying to make Bridget Jones ‘capitalise’ on anything, you are defeating her purpose, and that purpose is simply to give the rest of us out here who do struggle to love ourselves and who haven’t been blessed with perfect hair and a really good wardrobe, that we are not alone. If TV cameras followed me around for a year, you’d end up with a very boring film, which is why every character in every film ever is exaggerated. Bridget is a normal girl, exaggerated. And perhaps, the reason that we don’t like her is that she is all of our imperfections and all of our insecurities, exaggerated, up there for the world to see. No, you’re not quite as crap as her. But in a twisted sort of way, doesn’t that feel quite nice? In a world so damn hard to be in right now, having someone that we can relate to on our screens, in amongst the Kim Kardashians of the world, has got to be a good thing, doesn’t it?