A love letter to the queen of fuckwit boyfriends, Chardonnay and passionate lip sync.
By Helena Hanson
During my first year of university, a remark was made to me. It was a rainy Sunday afternoon, I was slumped in a queue in the big Tesco on Excelsior Road. I was desperately hungover, with my night-before hair piled up on the top of my head, snuggled in my oldest jumper and pyjama bottoms. I was clutching a bag of extra-large popcorn, some frozen waffles and “Never Been Kissed” on £3 DVD sale. As I stood with my dissolvable Paracetamol and litre of Sunny D, I heard the girl behind me whisper to her friend, “Wow. That is SO Bridget Jones”. ‘So Bridget Jones’ I thought. What does that even mean? Nevertheless, I was insulted.
Naturally, upon my return to Talybont, whilst devouring my body weight in window waffles and microwaveable mash, I decided to re-watch my Bridget Jones DVD’s, in an attempt to decipher what it was that made us comparable. Very quickly it became clear that, I am in fact, SO Bridget Jones.
Like Bridget, I was obsessively counting calories but still getting fatter, I was perpetually single, and I was routinely performing “All By Myself” in my bedroom. Two years later, I have a lovely boyfriend, I fit into a size eight and I would have no longer described myself as ‘SO Bridget Jones’. So, as I snuggled up to my luscious boyfriend, in my skimpy knickers and size eight jeans, to watch the most recent Bridget Jones film in the cinema, Hurrah! I thought, cheers! to no longer being SO Bridget Jones.
Alas, I found myself somewhat mortified when leaving the cinema, when my boyfriend turned to me and said, Helena you are SO Bridget. So Bridget?! NO! Again?! Still?! So I’ve started asking myself, what is so wrong, with being SO Bridget?
Poor Bridget, not only does she have to suffer Fitzherbert-Tits-Pervert blunders, and fall face first into festival sludge, she’s also getting bashed online for being a poor role model, for not being the perfect representation of a ‘real’ woman. The suggestion is that Bridget is not a good role model for women, nor is she an accurate representative of a modern, single woman. No, she isn’t an embodiment of sex and thin and beautiful, like her predecessors. Instead, they argue, she’s trivial, bungling and incapable of anything. They say her life is focused on nothing but sex, boyfriend’s, marriage and babies. Even by movie number three, they say, even at 43 years old, Bridget is embarrassingly pathetic. She’s still not really taken seriously by anyone around her, she’s still husband hunting, and she’s still perpetually fucking everything up.
Oh but they couldn’t be more wrong. By the third movie, Bridget HAS grown up. She’s not a complete fuck-up, she’s finally at her desired weight, she has a kick-ass job, she is owning her sexuality and enjoying herself. She’s not humiliating or embarrassing or pathetic. She’s 43 years old and ready to get married, ready to be in love, and after three films of total fucking disaster, she’s ready have her happily ever after. I understand she’s too tragic to be a romantic representation of all women, but my God, she’s the closest I’ve ever found.
Regardless of whether or not as an individual you regard Bridget Jones to be representative, ultimately, it’s a movie. Why is it not enough for Bridget Jones to be funny? She is not allowed to just be elusively relatable and hilariously familiar, she has to be inspirational, heroic, an icon. Why? Columnists, feminists, and opinion-ists galore have had a pop at Bridget, contending that she does not represent ‘every woman’. They suggest her definition of happiness as marriage, boyfriends, babies, being skinny is not representative, not inspiring. When did she claim to be? Why should she? Bridget isn’t designed to be an aspirational woman. She’s supposed to be funny, catastrophic maybe, but ordinary.
What about male characters? Bond? Harry Potter? Mr Bean? When did they ever have to be relatable, accurate, realistic representations of men? They didn’t. The notion that female characters must represent collectively all women is not only bizarre but stifling. No, Bridget is not ‘every woman’, but what is ‘every woman’ anyway? Just as we watch Margot Robbie in The Wolf of Wall Street and understand that this is not a representation of all women, we must look at Bridget Jones the same. We need diversity, yes. Diverse characters, actors, ethnicities, weights, yes, but to assume one must be all encompassing is not only bizarre but impossible.
I do relate to Bridget. I relate to her imperfections and her internal monologue that questions who she is supposed to be alongside what people want her to be and who she really, truthfully is. She is eternally hopeful, almost to the point of naivety, she’s desperately faithful, painfully honest, she’s embarrassingly romantic, and amalgamates everything I think it means to be human.
During the course of writing this I took a quiz on Buzfeed that was to determine “How Bridget Jones are you?”. Unsurprisngly, I got “entirely Bridget”. Entirely Bridget, So Bridget. Fitzherbet, Tits-Pervert, purple faced, Chardonnay soaked, Bridget Jones, and I wouldn’t change a thing.