As I mentioned the other day, I finished Breaking Dawn this week. After a couple of weeks of occasionally cracking into a book that should have taken me all of two or three days to read, I finally made myself sit down the other night and read the last couple hundred pages.
It is no secret that I have failed to understand the enthusiasm that some have for this series. Part of it has to do with the actual writing. I have read several other beautifully written books recently and the writing in this series is, well, so-so. The best analogy I can think of is to say that it’s kind of like listening to Weird Al on your way home from The Metropolitan. Not that there isn’t a certain entertainment factor to White and Nerdy–it just isn’t Puccini, you know? How I feel about the Twilight series is kind of like that.
There are a lot of things I could comment on with this final book (like the fact that one of the teenage girls I work with at church who loved the first three told me the other night that she is having a hard time plodding through this one, too) but I really just want to focus on one thing that really bugged me. Coincidentally, it is also extremely time-appropriate to events of this week in grown-up land.
What constitutes a perfect woman?
In Breaking Dawn, Bella’s perfection involved her becoming extremely beautiful. “Extremely beautiful,” however, seemed to also mean being almost unrecognizable. By her own father, even. She ran around thrilled with who she now was, even though (because?) it was no longer her.
That, my friends, bothered me. Deeply.
Go ahead, tell me it is just a story and I’m making a big deal out of nothing. Accuse me of being a bitter harpy. But, seriously, what kind of message does that send to the Paris Hilton obsessed demographic that these books are aimed at? Most of them are smart enough to realize that they can’t get an Extreme Vampire Makeover, but how many will be asking for a new nose and bigger “assets” for their birthdays (already a frightening new trend among the teenaged set)? After all, it was only a few months ago that they were hearing one of the cast members of MTV’s The Hills talk about how she would rather risk death than continue without a “better” chest and nose. Just like Bella, she was dying to be perfect.
Females, young and old, face tremendous pressure in the realm of perfection. We are given constant images of who we should be, how we should look, what we should think, and how we should act. Some are positive, but an overwhelming amount are destructive. And, of course, even when a woman attains some standard of perfection, or even just great achievement, there are always those who are standing by, ready to change the standard and find fault with the accomplishment.
Just ask Sarah Palin.