Bridget Jones’ Diary has acquired somewhat of a cult status, both as a book written by Helen Fielding, and as a film featuring the familiar faces of Renee Zellweger, Hugh Grant and Colin Firth. Bridget has been an iconic symbol for so many women over the last twenty years, and her character is undeniably a genius creation by Fielding. However as I re-read Bridget’s diary a few weeks ago, I was struck by the realisation that she was a woman living in a society 20 years before ours, and with references to ‘portable phones’ and indeed the lack of references to social media, the time gap felt a big one. In many ways, the novel felt stuck in the 1990s.
However, where some issues now seem outdated, others remain painstakingly relevant, even in 2017. The pressure to be ‘thin’, the barriers faced by women in the workplace, and the socially inscribed roles of the genders (mother and hostess vs ‘Big Boss’ manly man) are to name but a few. Whether Bridget is really a ‘feminist’ or a ‘good role model’ is up for debate (I think she’s fab), but what she certainly is is the means by which Fielding sheds light on the issues that were faced, and are still faced, by women on a day to day basis. Below, I have a adopted a ‘Bridget’-style persona for a similar kind of purpose, but instead my focus lies in the difficulties of the university environment.
September – How not to handle your alcohol
Monday 28th September 2015
Alcohol Units: Um, how many are in a bottle of wine? Should I know that? Oh and in about half a bottle of vodka. Oh god and in those jaeger bombs I did (gross), oh no, and those Sours shots (just had to go and be sick at the thought of alcohol. Good lord Ellie pull yourself together).
Calories: There’s a mysterious half-donna kebab at the end of my bed, so I’m guessing I ate the other half. Ambitiously tried to cook a vegetable curry from scratch last night and it went pink (pink!) so don’t think that counts.
10:14am – Oh. No. Feel like head might explode and think I’m bed bound. In fact, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to leave my room again. Is this what being a Fresher is? Am I destined to wake up feeling this hungover every single morning for the next three years? I honestly don’t think I can go on. Feel as if I’ve just walked across the Sahara Desert without drinking anything – was about to shout for mum, but I’ve just realised she’s four hours away. Bloody hell, I’m going to have to make the journey to the kitchen.
10:23am – Made it to the kitchen and back but it was a bit of a harrowing experience. Made the life-threatening mistake of forgetting to put shoes on, and walked in to the kitchen barefoot. Instantly became stuck to the floor because of the residue of last night’s alcohol, before spearing myself on a bit of glass from a broken wine bottle. To make this experience even worse, one of my rather timid new flatmates was sat bolt upright at the kitchen table eating his breakfast. The sight of me in last night’s clothes and make-up made him LEAP in the air in horror (he literally nearly fell off his chair). Tried to make conversation with him but he ran out of the kitchen as quickly as possible. Oh dear, must try harder to not look so terrifying at this hour in the morning. Managed to make myself a cup of tea, but forgot I didn’t have any milk so stole some from someone and now feel like a ‘most-wanted’ criminal.
10:40am – Unfortunately, the memories of last night are all flooding back. Was told it was a ‘zoo themed’ welcome party, so went all out with Zebra print leggings and mask. Proudly arrived in the kitchen for pres, only to find that everyone else hasn’t even attempted to dress up and are all looking perfectly normal and glamorous in their Topshop jeans and crop tops. Naturally, in an attempt to divert attention away from myself, I drank as much as is humanely possible in the space of half an hour. Pretty sure I spammed Snapchat with loads of blurry photos of me with my housemates to prove I had ‘uni friends’.
10:41am – Just checked, think I might have to delete all my social media profiles to prevent any further embarrassment. Saw to my horror that I’ve been tagged in a photo where I appear to have tripped, fallen in to a bush and have had to be lifted out.
2:30pm – Started to feel a bit weird being sat in my room all on my own, and came to the conclusion that Fresher’s week is weird. What on earth are you meant to do during the day? Mum rang me in a panic that I wasn’t going to make any friends (she’d seen the Facebook photos) and told me I must be more sensible.
5:03pm – Ventured up to one of my new friend’s rooms and it was actually quite nice. I was selfishly pleased to see she was so hungover that she was having to wear sunglasses inside with her curtains shut, and we both consoled each other about how ridiculous we are. A load of other equally hungover people began to peer round the door and joined in with our self-commiserations. Definitely a sense of camaraderie. Think I quite like uni.