In a poll of 2,000 women in their mid-20s, 78% said that the ideal age for marriage is 26, and having kids a year later. 10 years ago, the ideal age was in one's 30s. What the hell happened?
Helen Fielding, that's what. Rather than give any explanation or insight into the change in ideals, it's easier to blame everyone's favorite singleton. The survey was conducted by More magazine in the UK (no relation to the US version), a glossy geared towards the 18 to 24-year-old set, and they're shopping it around as phenomenon sparked by Bridget Jones:
Rather than being left on the shelf in their 30s, like author Helen Fielding's fictional singleton, women increasingly want to marry and have children sooner, researchers found.
Chantelle Horton, editor of More, said: "Young women today no longer want to be party girls throughout their 20s only to reach their early 30s and find they've loved and lost Mr Right. They don't want to fall into the Bridget Jones syndrome and view their future through an empty wine glass."
Well, I'm going to be viewing my future through an empty wine glass whether I'm single or not. But seriously? Bridget is a syndrome? Ugh. Never mind the fact that I'd think most women in their early or mid-20s aren't quite as universally aware of the cult of Bridget: the original book came out in 1996, and the first (and far superior) movie was released in 2001, so if you're 25, you were maybe a little young for this stuff, too young to have your change of heart named after this character. And it's tremendously irritating to see another media person chose to use Bridget Jones specifically to give a frame of reference for this phenomenon, and as a result, the publications picking up the story are now parroting it as the Bridget Problem (see: Girls Fear For Bridget's Single Life, or Four In Ten Women Confess To 'Bridget Jones' Love Life', or 'Bridget Jones Syndrome' Makes Kids Want To Marry Early).
Can we please, please stop using Bridget Jones as a metaphor for miserable, 30-something single women? In the canon of chick flicks that I actually think are good movies, Bridget Jones's Diary is up there (alright, fine: it's my favorite mindless movie in general — I assert that you're always allowed two favorites, one thinky and one, you know, not-thinky). It came out during my senior year of college, a time when I was petrified about what course my life would be taking or, silly control freak that I once was, what my "schedule" might be. And even during that insecure and impressionable period, the last thing I saw the movie as was a cautionary tale about the dangers of being single into one's 30s. Maybe I misinterpreted it or something, but I saw the story of a woman who was unhappy with her life, mistakenly thought a man was the answer, then gained the confidence to be independent and not settle for just any man ("That's not a good enough offer for me"). After all her character development, only then she got the man (these movies must adhere to the conventions of their genre, after all).
Besides: After 14 years of stereotyping, the Sad Single Bridget thing is tired and totally lazy.