In the modern world there are so many arguments over what a liberated woman should look like. Should we want a partner? Need one? Or should we concentrate on our careers and any mention of the romantic dream of settling down, that once was our only option, should be banished otherwise we don’t qualify as feminists? I have been struggling with this question recently and watching Bridget Jones has caused me to have an epiphany.
The original film debuted in our cinemas in 2001, a time when most were still in a ’90s daze — still hung up on the romantic pop music era of being desperately sad at being alone. The film begins in this fashion. Bridget is depressed about being alone, signified by the iconic All By Myself scene. She desperately wants a man. Most of us will know the storyline so I won’t bore you with the details, but as a teenager growing up I saw the film and subsequent sequels as a pure romantic love story. But upon revisiting it I have realised it is a love story where Bridget falls in love with not only Mark Darcy but also herself.
Halfway through the first film she realises that having a partner is an added bonus to life but she is more than capable of being happy as a single lady. She embraces her quirks instead of rejecting them. She realises that she shouldn’t have to apologise for her personality, but instead should be loved because of it — highlighted by her decision to be with Mark instead of Daniel Cleaver. This is what I think a liberated woman looks like: not caring about societal expectations and opinions. And, crucially, being comfortable enough in one’s own skin to allow oneself the freedom to explore different options and make mistakes — such as choosing the wrong man or career path.
Many people I know, myself included, place too much value when it comes to their own happiness in the thought of finding romantic love. However, many of our greatest love affairs are with our close friends and ourselves. My point is, that although this film is 18 years old, the same societal pressures weigh on women now as they did on Bridget then. You don’t see anyone in the film feeling sorry for Daniel or Mark (the male love interests) for being single, despite being older than Bridget. I think all of us need to take a leaf out of Bridget’s book and give the middle finger to anything that tells us what to do and how to do it, if it doesn’t feel right.
You want a partner? Go find one! You want to focus on your career? You go out there and smash it. Do what you want. Be Bridget, choose vodka and Chaka Khan — choose yourself.