In my formative years I was in love with the idea of love and I attribute this to growing up watching romantic comedies. I love romantic comedies and I say that with pride. So often we are taught to regard the genre as a guilty pleasure because, ultimately, we are taught that what women like is frivolous and not to be taken with as much seriousness as movies with men in the limelight. We are trained to associate male leading, serious movies with critical acclaim and Oscar recognition, rather than rom-coms. While I do recognise that there are a lot of problems with many films in the romantic comedy genre, like how so many of the protagonists represent white, middle class, educated woman, I have also learned a great deal from them.
I used to think that in order to have happiness and love, everything needed to be perfect. The timing had to be perfect, the guy needed to be perfect, and I needed to be perfect. Romantic comedies made me think I knew everything about love and nothing at all. I thought that love wasn’t something that you necessarily had to work for, but rather something that happened to you; that love wasn’t something you actively had to pursue, but something to passively wait for. I told myself if I was perfect, it would happen.
Then I watched Bridget Jones’ Diary for the first time in high school. Bridget absolutely doesn’t see herself anywhere near perfect. She is worried about her weight, her smoking and drinking habits, and wears spanks. Her self-deprecating humour makes the movie, which could easily be a very sad film, extremely funny. This type of romantic comedy endorses imperfection. Like me, Bridget thought that in order to deserve love, everything, including herself, had to be perfect. But she is flawed as all people are, and, regardless of her flaws, Mr. Darcy loves her “just as she is.”
I used to feel like I had so much love inside of me to give to someone else but didn’t know how to be loved myself. My best friend once told me that love requires complete vulnerability and release in order to accept that we are all deserving of love and affection. I am reminded of this every time I see her and her ankle tattoo which reads “You Are Your Own Best Thing.” There is nothing like a good Toni Morrison quote to make you realise your own worth in this world. I remain optimistic that I will have my own happy ending someday, and not the kind that works inside romantic comedies, but the real, messy, sustainable kind of love.