By Helen Fielding
Yesssss! Yessssss! Daniel Cleaver wants my phone no. Am marvelous. Am irresistible Sex Goddess. Hurrah!
Many people approach the liberal arts with a very dichotomized view. There is fine art on one hand and craft on the other. Fine art is somehow better than craft, and spending your time on on anything esle would be a waste. For instance, paintings are for museums and comic books should be relegated to junior high boys’ dirty bedrooms. Dramatic films are timeless classics and chick flicks are just a wannabe’s attempt at film-making. And to read something other than a poetic novel full of social and political commentary would be worse than poking my eyes out. I, personally, don’t subscribe to that school of thought. Half of my favorite films are Disney movies. Art museums are cool, but they don’t make me laugh like XKCD. I have read the Twilight series. Twice. So when I say I did not like Bridget Jones’s Diary, it is not because it was under 200 pages and written in the format of a woman’s diary. It’s because Bridget Jones is a really annoying person.
In fact, I don’t have any literary complaints about Bridget Jones’s Diary. Fielding’s storytelling and pacing are enjoyable. The situations Bridget finds herself in are mortifying-ly funny. The boys are dorky and cute (just my type). No, there is nothing wrong with the story itself. My problem is the main character. It is nice to take a break from classic social commentary, read about cute boys, and have a couple laughs, so I was excited to read Bridget Jones’s Diary. But Bridget went and ruined it. As the title implies, this book takes the form of Bridget’s diary, revealing all of her inner battles and desires as she traipses through life, hosting dinner parties and falling madly in love with her boss. She’s your average almost-30-year-old career woman concerned about love, weight loss, and getting a good tan. Bridget is the literature version of so many 20-something women who just need someone to relate to. Or at least that’s who Fielding wants you to think Bridget Jones is.
The readers are supposed to relate to and even pity Bridget, whose life is always on the brink of chaos. Now I know plenty of people whose lives seem constantly a little bit out of control (my mom and sister, namely), and I’m well aware of the ridiculous situations that gets them into. But Bridget isn’t amusingly out of control. She’s just plain irresponsible, bordering on “OH MY GOSH GET A GRIP, LADY!” I mean, who shows up to work two and a half hours late, because she took too long in the bath, couldn’t find any clean clothes, and lost her brush, purse, and keys? At that point just call in sick. You’re embarrassing yourself, Bridget.
My other concern is Bridget’s body image. I get it. Losing weight: we’re all trying to do it. But what 30-year-old woman calls herself a “lard mountain” when she weighs 131 pounds? Now, unless Bridget is under 5 feet tall (which is not specified, but I seriously doubt), then Bridget is not even overweight, let alone a lard mountain. At one point in the book, she hits 119 pounds! Her obsession with weight despite being improbably thin makes me self conscious and begs the question who is this girl anyway? She views herself as a fat, unorganized, slob careening haphazardly through life, and yet she smokes, drinks, and practically absorbs food all while maintaining a sex goddess figure. I’m sorry, but I prefer accurate representations of life.
And perhaps I would have enjoyed Bridget Jones’s Diary more if it hadn’t been so similar to another book I recently read. Fielding’s book is essentially The Princess Diaries for adults. Both main characters are somewhat socially awkward, lacking in the love department, and watching their life spiral quickly out of control. The difference: Mia Thermopolis is hilarious and lovable. If you’re looking for a quick read on a flight and the airport shop only sells Bridget Jones’s Diary and Fifty Shades of Grey, then buy Bridget Jones’s Diary. Hands down. But if you have more options, please, do something better with your time.