It’s 25 years since Bridget Jones’s Diary was published in the US, says Hilary Rose in The Times, and “The New York Times is not amused”. An article marking the anniversary “castigates Bridget for her nuttiness and self-loathing”, calls out her smoking and body shaming, and ends with a clarion call for “stories which celebrate progress”. Apparently, the world has changed “out of all recognition” since 1998: not only is the book “unfunny”, it’s “actively dangerous”, because it peddles an outdated stereotype of women.
What total rubbish. Young women haven’t changed that much in the past two decades: they worry about their weight just like Bridget, who vows to reduce the circumference of each of her thighs by 1.5 inches; they still have “inappropriate crushes on terrible men” who inevitably break their hearts. (“Daniel Cleaver wants my phone number. Am Marvellous. Am irresistible Sex Goddess.”) Say what you want, but Helen Fielding’s depiction of womanhood is hilariously relatable. I have a girlfriend who, to this day, when she’s said something “particularly profound about pedicures”, will look at me and add, “and Chechnya, obviously”, a reference to Bridget’s “doomed attempts” to sound up to speed on international relations. I’m not going to argue, any more than I imagine Fielding would, “that Bridget Jones’s Diary is up there with Jane Eyre”. But not every day is a Jane Eyre day – some days are for giggling at the “drunkenness, debauchery and emotional f***wittage” that comes with being a 30-something.