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Monday, November 21, 2011

Let's Not Let Our Daughters Grow Up to Be Bella Swan

Last night I went to see, "Breaking Dawn - Part 1," the third movie of four based on the Stephanie Meyer, "Twilight" trilogy.

I've always had a love/hate relationship with this series. Not unlike my relationship with chocolate chip cookies. Yes, they can be yummy going down, but there's always a certain amount of angst and regret involved in their consumption.

As I sat in the dark theater filled with impressionable young girls and women, I winced thinking that Bella could in any way be a role model for them. I always have. Thankfully my own daughter was a fully realized, independent college student when she and I read these books. While we consumed them somewhat guiltily, like the aforementioned cookies, I was never concerned that this strong, independent young woman would ever be anything like Bella Swan, the besotted vampire (and werewolf) lover.

When I came home from the movie and read this spot-on review by Lisa Schwarzbaum in Entertainment Weekly, I realized the discomfort I felt was not mine alone.

She writes:

"Nothing goes right for our resigned heroine. She hates the foot-squishing, wobble-inducing high-heeled pumps urged on her by her stylish vampire sister-in-law-to-be Alice (Ashley Greene) — Alice is the designated wedding planner — but Bella doesn't even know how to put her foot down to demand an alternative. She has incapacitating, panic-attack-sized wedding jitters. (Could she could be panicking because she's ridiculously young to be getting married to a vampire instead of, oh, furthering her education or pursuing a career or finding out what she really wants out of life? Nah, that's just the liberal-elite feminist in me talking.)"

Finally! Someone verbalized what I have felt for years.

Don't get me wrong. I am a died in the wool romantic. I love all things completely girly. I swoon over flowers or a hand offered to help me across a puddle or out of a car. A hand on the small of my back as I walk into a room can make me plotz.

That said, I am not a damsel in distress waiting to be rescued. I have opinions. Strong ones at times. I have my own goals and aspirations beyond landing a man.

No woman should ever want to be subjugated to that of supporting player in their own life. And it's a horrible message to impart to girls. Love is great, love is intoxicatingly awesome, but you should never be defined by anyone, (even if he's really hot) and forget who you are.

And the thing is? At just 18, Bella Swan has spent all her teen years obsessing over two boys - Edward and Jacob. She's never fully developed into her own person. Readers and viewers have no idea who she really is. But much worse than that is, neither does she.

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