The Anxiety of Self-Presentation in Bridget Jones's Diary
"The book is about the anxiety of self-presentation; Bridget is both Everywoman and an implicitly ironic observer of Everywoman." (New Yorker) Helen Fielding writes about the anxiety of self-presentation in Bridget Jones's Diary. The New Yorker accurately identifies this central theme. Moreover, it correctly asserts that Bridget's search for meaning and order in her life exemplifies Everywoman. However, the New Yorker credits her with a far more heightened self-awareness than she possesses. Bridget is not an observer but a reporter. Observing suggests wisdom, often attained through detachment, but Bridget remains in the thick of it-usually blind to her girl friends' follies. It is up to the reader to infer the social criticisms that Bridget conveys without realizing.
Bridget's obsession with self-presentation runs throughout the entire novel. She is constantly conscious of her appearance, often taking exhaustive measures to alter it:
Being a woman is worse than being a farmer-there is so much harvesting and crop spraying to be done: legs to be waxed, underarms shaved, eyebrows plucked, feet pumiced, skin exfoliated and moisturized, spots cleaned, roots dyed, eyelashes tinted, nails filed, cellulite massaged, stomach muscles exercised. The whole performance is so highly tuned you only need to neglect if for a few days for the whole thing to go to seed (27).
Bridget has turned grooming into a science. Not only does sweat over aesthetic adjustments, but she also considers her overall image, entertaining funny fantasies for the future. For example, when Bridget thinks she's pregnant, she pictures Daniel "rushing home from work, thrilled to find the two of us pink and glowing in the bath, and, in years to come, being incredibly impressive at parent/teacher evenings" (100). Fielding creates irony here by highlighting the discrepancy between Bridget's idyllic vision-a premature plan to be...