REVIEW: Bridget Jones' Diary, Helen Fielding

Friday, 10 August 2018

Meet Bridget Jones—a 30-something Singleton who is certain she would have all the answers if she could: a. lose 7 pounds, b. stop smoking, c. develop Inner Poise. Bridget Jones' Diary is the devastatingly self-aware, laugh-out-loud daily chronicle of Bridget's permanent, doomed quest for self-improvement — a year in which she resolves to: reduce the circumference of each thigh by 1.5 inches, visit the gym three times a week not just to buy a sandwich, form a functional relationship with a responsible adult, and learn to program the VCR. Over the course of the year, Bridget loses a total of 72 pounds but gains a total of 74. She remains, however, optimistic. 

I have always had a problem with body dysmorphia. And that was even before I changed medication for my depression, ate my way through Amsterdam and put on two and a half stone. And, as if I hadn’t enough issues, over the last year or so I have been diagnosed with a chronic stomach condition and, I think (at least for me anyway) it is hard to deal with something like that without developing a teeny, tiny problem with disordered eating.
So, I get Bridget Jones, I really, really do.
I know what it is like to be on the wrong side of skinny and still think you could lose a few pounds and, if this was all inside the head of Bridget Jones', I’d be fine with it. But, it’s not.
Friends, family, flings, people in the street, girls her boyfriend cheats on her with. They all point out how chubby she looks, how squishy; how she could stand to lose a few pounds. “I thought you said she was thin” says one woman, a point from the film I have somehow blocked from my mind.
This book was supposed to be funny and light and uplifting. But what about a character hating and starving herself (and the people around her telling her that it is right for her to do so) makes it so? She’s a woman weighing less than nine stone, for Christ’s sakes! I mean, I know that the 90s was the height of Heroin Chic but even then I can’t imagine that a weight like that, no matter how tall or short the woman, would be classed as anything close to obese.
This book makes me want to overexercise - to jog on the spot all day instead of sitting at my desk, to spend all night on the exercise bike instead of going to sleep. I wish I had never read it. I wish I had never found out that Renee Zellweger put on twenty-five pounds to play a character who supposedly weighed far less than I do. And, after finding out that in 2010, the average woman in England weighed eleven stone, I can’t imagine that I am the only person feeling this way.

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