‘Chick lit’ is relatable
According to a study published this past December, Bridget Jones, the iconic heroine of the book “Bridget Jones’s Diary” is responsible for more than over-the-top love triangles. The study emphasized the negative effects of what is known as “chick lit,” a modern genre of fiction which tells the story of modern day women.
Chick lit books feature stories about the modern woman, and are usually lighthearted and funny. The stories may have romantic elements, but do not fall under the category of romance, as relationships with friends and family are more central than relationships with a significant other. Often times the heroines might be slightly curvy, overweight, or short, and always self-conscious about it. In other words, chick lit features heroines who are normal.
While authors write chick lit with the intention of truthfully expressing modern women’s insecurities and how to deal with them, M.J. Kaminski’s study “Does This Book Make Me Look Fat” shows that women feel worse about their body image after reading certain passages of two chick lit books; “Something Borrowed,” by Emily Griffin, and “Dreaming in Black and White,” by Laura Jensen Walker.
This sort of criticism has been thrown at chick lit since it first came out in the 90s. The women of our staff, however, have appreciation for these realistic views of women. Though characters in chick lit often find ways to put themselves down, the idea is that in the end, they find self-empowerment and embrace their body image.
“The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things,” for example, is an adolescent book about “Ginny,” a high school girl whose mother constantly bothers her about losing weight. Depressed and afraid of what others think of her, she hides herself in baggy clothes, and shuts out friends.
Although the book highlights Ginny worrying about her body image, (including a very provocative and terribly sad scene of self-harm due to her weight,) the book ends with her realizing that she doesn’t need anyone’s approval but her own.
The mixture of self-love and female empowerment actually make for a wonderful piece of literature. In fact, the women on The Eagle staff all agreed that books with self-conscious heroines make us feel relieved because they are so relatable.
While it is possible that Kaminski’s study has a lot of relevance, it’s better to look at chick lit in a positive light. No one is perfect. And when women read that they are not alone in their feelings of imperfection, they can embrace their body image, rather than reject it.