“Oh God. Valentine's Day tomorrow. Why? Why? Why is the entire world geared to make people not involved in romance feel stupid when everyone knows romance doesn’t work anyway. Look at (the) royal family.”
I first opened Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding on a summer vacation that I should have spent reading Shakespeare. I knew from the beginning that I’d love it, mainly because it was everything my mother did not want me to read: its main topic was sex, and Bridget and her friends swore a lot. 12-year-old me had much to discover about relationships, but I identified with Bridget’s clumsiness, social awkwardness and her sass. She was my hero whilst growing into womanhood. Something about her made me feel good about my weird teenage years ruled by acne and trying to find a boyfriend despite my braces.
That is why it was a total mistake to dive into her adventures again at age 23. Because let me tell you, Bridget Jones is so self-centred she makes Narcissus look like a self-hating ‘emo’ teen.
12-year-old me loved her ‘just as she was’, but 23-year-old me wants to slap her in the face multiple times whilst screaming at her to get a grip. It’s not her poor judgement that infuriates me. It’s the constant whining about men, weight and the rollercoasters of her self-esteem. All the assertions of “I’m fine the way I am” followed exactly one sentence later with: “Why didn’t he call? What’s wrong with me?”
When I was 12, Bridget Jones was too cool for words. Now, my conscious efforts not to follow her example verge on the extreme. But who knows? Maybe I’ll read the book again when I’m 33 years old and completely understand her struggles. Isn’t that the lovely thing about books?
Words: Claire Toureille
Image source: Still from adaptation film directed by Sharon Maguire, 2001