Eons ago (okay, 2001 or so), there were books that summed up the plight of women who weren't married by age thirty. “Singletons,”’ we were called, and women everywhere united in our common cause—to take control of our sinking ships, become independent and learn to embrace the women that we had become. It was liberating. It was the dawn of modern day chick lit.
Of course, you know the stories—Bridget Jones's Diary, Good in Bed, Baby Proof, and on and on. And with each of these heroines, we cried, yelled, and identified right alongside them as we flipped each engaging page.
As with most movements, eventually we grew tired of these women. I don’t know if it was the readers or the publishing houses, but chick lit and its maturer counterpart, women’s fiction, somehow fell from grace. Yes, their stories were vibrant and interesting, but most women (and publishers) eventually yearned for something new.
Women became interested in the somewhat evolved heroine; we wanted heroines who were already self-aware and damned proud of it from page one. Enter Anita Blake, Katniss, Stephanie Plum. Yeah, they had issues that ranged from post-apocalyptic starvation to vampire hunting woes, to the lack of a car payment forcing you to become a bounty hunter for your sleazy cousin.
We’ve started and ended at complete opposite ends of the spectrum.
Having gone from a point of discovery to a place of awareness, where we are now? With the rumblings of chick lit resurgence, and women heading into 2013 following two female secretaries of state and a vice-presidential hopeful, what would we do with Bridget Jones?
So, where is the difference between Bridget Jones and Katniss? For one thing, at the very start of the book, we find a young woman in charge of her situation. Yes, there were scarcities in Region 9, but Katniss had dealt with this realization early on—prior to the opening of the book—and took this harsh reality with a suck-it-up attitude.
These women made us believe in them, and as with any good book, we identified with certain aspects of these ladies, which made us ultimately believe in ourselves. Not in spite of, but because our woes, failures and personal tragedies, we would survive.
I’ll tell you what we’ll do. We’re going to read her. In all our triumphs as women with our big-girl panties on, we seem to be slipping a little backwards, towards the part of us that needs to read books like Fifty Shades of Grey. That’s a look way away from chick lit, but bear with me for a moment.
There are times when women have to be so strong, that taking the passenger seat and allowing the hero to drive doesn’t sound like such a bad idea. In 2012, there were numerous successful books of this nature released. Enough to hint at a resurgence of this genre, that honestly never truly went away, just moved over.
We are finding books in 2012, and scheduled for release in 2013 for that matter, from all the big name favorites in lit written for chicks. And what’s different? What will be different when Bridget Jones, one of the best books of the genre according to sales figures and the multiple movie releases inspired by the series, returns to the scene and print next year?
From my perspective, I need Bridget to grow up a lot. She will always have diet concerns and be slightly clumsy; those are things that she may not have the ability to change. In her forties, however, she should be a women more in control than she was in the past. Bridget needs to be concerned with recycling; to know what her BMI is to ensure that she is at least at her ideal weight and healthy; she needs to have a smart phone; to have become a specialist at something and whatever that something is, she needs to be working in that field. And yes, she should have a Twitter account. Since her personality is so engagingly awkward, she should have a million followers and have no idea of the reason. I need Bridget to be a grown-up; the captain of her fate, the master of her soul and able to accept the things that she cannot change.
Over the last decade, women have evolved and are willing to acknowledge whatever it is that they like and dislike, and able to accept the consequences of their decisions. These are the things that we must have in chick lit. In the grand scheme of things, this is the one thing that is for us and written by us (in most cases), so it should be modeled after us.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to slip on a negligee with ratty sweat pants, eat some ice cream straight out of the carton while reading a few chapters of mommy porn.