25 years of life with Bridget Jones
Disclaimer: All of the characters and events depicted in this play are completely non-fictional. Any resemblance to an event or a real person is deliberate. The person’s name is Bridget Jones and to fans of the Universal Sisterhood of Bridget, she’s as real as your boring mom constantly pushing you to the next bachelorette party in order to catch a rich / handsome / smart / husband. educated with six-pack abs and a six-figure salary. All of the above requirements are mandatory if you are in your early 20s, some if you are around 20, and none when you are 30. Then your best bet is to grab any specimen of humanity that falls into the âmaleâ category and drag it to the altar.
If you entered your 30s without a ring and no husband, Bridget is real because, in many ways, she is you. The woman who went on a date and claimed to have read a book after only scanning the back jacket. The woman whose New Years resolution is to reduce her thigh circumference by three inches by using an anti-cellulite diet. The woman who plans countless Spartan health and beauty regimes is ready to start in the beautifully promising land of “tomorrow.”
Twenty-five years ago, as a girl growing up in a small town in Kerala, reading on Cosmopolitan-swilling, Bridget’s smoking cigarette – whose world consisted of alien creatures such as’ megalomaniacs’, ’emotional ” wits’ and ‘Smug Marrieds’ – was nothing short of a revelation. From the chaste ground of the mysteries of Tinkle Digests and Nancy Drew, I have been baptized into the wonderfully wicked and haughty world of Bridget. Let’s face it; one heel of Bridget’s fake Manolo Blahnik was enough to trample a dozen Suppandis and Shikari Shambus underfoot.
It wasn’t until I got older that I started to feel the emotional backlash under Bridget’s obvious humor. When I first read her response to an acquaintance who asked her why she wasn’t married yet (âUnder my clothes my whole body is covered in scalesâ), I burst out laughing. I must have been 11 or 12 at the time. In my twenties, I began to think about that answer – and what exactly was behind his sardonic sarcasm. In my thirties, I wanted to encourage her with a “Go on, girl!” when she said that.
Growing up, Bridget’s world began to merge with mine. I was able to find analogues with every stereotype described in the book. The aunt who tsk-tsks every time she meets you and says, âYou can’t put this off forever, you know. Tick ââtock tick tock (presumably referring to marriage and mom). The next door neighbor whose form of greeting is, “How’s your love life going anyway?” (This issue should be made a criminal offense in the Indian Constitution, punishable by up to seven years in prison.)
Twenty-five years later, many would say that in a post #MeToo world, when we carefully labeled Bridget’s experiences in categories like ‘body shame’ and ‘normalized misogyny’, Bridget herself no longer has any relevance. In an age when women armed their experiments, you probably wouldn’t tolerate the casual chauvinism of Bridget’s world. As Helen Fielding, the author of the book, put it herself, âYou can’t write this now. The level of sexism Bridget facedâ¦. I mean in the end, she turned around and stuck this on them, but it was just part of her life. It was quite shocking for me to see how things have changed.
But despite all the naysayers, Bridget emerged triumphantly from the 21st century, armed with a dry Chardonnay and a drier sense of humor. Part of the reason may be that, underneath all the talk about feminism and empowerment, don’t we all have a bit of it in us? In our desire to be loved and to build meaningful relationships? In the insecurities, errors and miscalculations that accompany the field of being a woman? In blind dates, we suffered with sucked bellies? In the countless failed resolutions to “eat more fiber”? As Bridget would say, of course we have to be united in calling the âMr Titspervertsâ of the world, but really, is there any harm in being two pounds lighter?