The Bad (and Not So Bad) of Bridget Jones

When the first Bridget Jones book Bridget Jones’s Diary came out in 1996, the author Helen Fielding said it was a feminist book and it was an instant best seller, fast-forward five years and the 2001 film version starring Renee Zellweger comes out and teen girls and women fall in love with the awkward character once again. But in reality, there is far much negativity with the character. It has been nearly twenty-one years since the first film was released to mostly favorable reviews, but the protagonist and stories have not aged well.

For one, within the first five minutes of the film, there’s a terrible joke about Auschwitz, a racist joke about Japanese people and a butt grabbing uncle. No lovely introduction for a rom-com. Much of the film revolves around Bridget’s weight, her smoking and relationships with two very dull men, one of whom is a pig. The weight subject is hard to ignore and they make Bridget seem fat, when she never is. Her weight is between 125 -136 pounds in the first film, which make her BMI in the healthy range for her 5’5″ height. But Renee Zellweger had to gain like 30 pounds for the role, but still nowhere near fat, just curvy, which a much healthier image than those waiflike models that storm runways. Better than promoting too thin like Kate Moss or Kaia Gerber or promoting obesity like Lizzo or Ashley Graham. Bridget should have been proud of her curves and being a healthy weight, not ashamed.

She should have just stopped smoking, drinking and started exercising and eating healthy and not wasting her time, puffing away, getting drunk and wallowing in her loneliness and self hatred with junk food, sad music and romantic movies. She is so naive and desperate to find love, she falls for the first guy that shows her attention, who happens to her boss at work. He is inappropriate to her and she takes it all like gifts from him, from grabbing her butt in an elevator, to sending her steamy instant messages, to sleeping with her, taking her on a trip away and even cheating on her with a thinner, younger woman whom is actualy engaged to. The only good thing she did with him is tell him off at work and quit, though later she finds herself wondering if she wants him back.

The other boring man she is attracted to is Mark Darcy, a top London barrister, a Fitzwilliam Darcy (hence is name) type character, but less personality, who has known Bridget since she was a child. He is an awkward fellow, though not nearly as embarrassingly as her. In the first film, he seems to only want Bridget when she is seen with Daniel Cleaver (her boss) or any man. He does eventually fall deeply in love with her exactly the way she is, but the two couldn’t be more oposite in every way except being British.

The film teaches ladies that sexual harrassment is okay and to just cover it up. Daniel Cleaver would have gotten #MeToo-ed in today’s world. The fact Bridget eats up all the inappropriate actions of Cleaver, is a sickening problem and glamourised for part of the first movie, until she finally realizes what she went through. Just taking it in the first place is awful enough. She at first is so desperate for a relationship, she’d do anything for one. The movie also makes the note of if you’re over 30 and single, your life is over. Not true, because some people find true love later in life and some people never do and are still happy.

The story glamourizes smoking, sexual harrassment and heavy drinking and is fat phobic, though the main character is far from overweight. They make it seem like weight loss and a relationship are the only things that can make a woman happy, which isn’t true at all. The naivety of the protagonist at times seems so much like a teenager that has never dated before and knows very little about sex, since she allows herself to be manhandled and made fun of. She also had created so many problems in her life from heavy smoking to heavy boozing to obsessing over romance and her body, instead of enjoying her life. She constantly complains but doesn’t do anything about it until forced to. What kind of female role model is this?

The story isn’t all bad, because Bridget does eventually stand up for herself, gets another job, stops smoking, works out, learns more about dating and goes after her true love. But the vast majority of the film is the oppsite of being feministic. It is not an inspirational story, in fact none of the books or movies are. In Bridget Jones’s Baby she doesn’t even know who the father is. Bridget is not the brightest bulb, in fact, she can be downright stupid. She constantly makes makes mistakes and pins so much negativy on herself that it oftentimes shows in the way she presents herself, her atitude, body language, etc. Who wants someone like that in their life? Why would anyone fall in love with a person like that?

Should Bridget Jones be cancelled for teaching the complete oposite of how to be a lady and feminist? Or should we just say, “Oh well, it’s fiction?” To me stories like these are harmful because of how they teach bad things. Like how these illuminate self-loathing, harrassment and how not to get a man to want you.

Bridget Jones is a relatable character for so many women, but not always in a good way. Her way of life is not always healthy or positive and we need more positive female role models. We need ones that embrace themselves with postivity, acceptance of the flaws they can’t change and changing bad habits. We also need ones that don’t just sit around and complain about their lives, they actually do something about it, because self-pity won’t get you very far. BJ tought me to hate myself and obsess over finding true love, not to enjoy life and be patient and love who I am. Not the kind of heroine I’m sure Helen Fielding set out to create, but she did, sorry, not sorry. There are other female icons real and fictional that uplift and inspire for the better, so bye bye Bridget!