There is an ongoing rivalry between Harry Potter fans and Twilight fans. Recently on Facebook a friend of mine posted a photo with a caption that read, “When the love of Hermione’s life left her, she continued to search for the keys to destroy the world’s most powerful dark wizard. When the love of Bella’s life left her, she curled up in the fetal position, went numb for months, and then jumped off a cliff.”
After reading this, my sister-in-law remarked that she hopes if we have daughters, we raise a Hermione and not a Bella. I had to agree.
I’m not intending to bash Twilight fans. I think the books are entertaining and fun for light reading. However, I am concerned with how many girls are comparing themselves to Bella and using her as a pattern for their own lives. If you go to any Twilight fan page I can almost guarantee you that you will see at least one girl proclaiming that she wishes she was Bella, or that she is just like Bella, that Bella is so lucky, and so forth. When I see these things, I can’t help but cringe a little. Bella is not my idea of a strong female character. She tends to be pretty helpless, and when Edward leaves her it destroys her. She shuts herself off from the world, becomes suicidal, and essentially decides life isn’t worth living anymore—all because a boy left her. Do we really want our girls to think that this is the proper way to behave when a boy leaves you? Nobody likes to be dumped, and feeling sad about it is ok. But I believe we need to teach our daughters to stand on their own two feet and push forward during hardships.
For many mothers, they think that ideally their daughter will find a nice man, marry him, and have a happy life. However the reality of it is that this doesn’t happen for everyone. Some women will never get married, whether by choice or circumstance. When this is the case, do we want these women to feel like they aren’t worth anything because they don’t have a man in their life, or do we want them to be strong on their own and feel complete with the life they have? Fate can deal some nasty hands and we decide if we give up or keep playing the game to the best of our ability.
Going back to Hermione vs Bella, I also have to think about how the two characters are portrayed. Bella, who is helpless on her own, anti-social, selfish, and short-sighted is somehow desired by practically every male character in the series. People find her interesting and she miraculously manages to be plain, but incredibly attractive at the same time. Don’t ask me how that works. People like her for no apparent reason. Hermione, on the other hand, is strong, independent, successful, smart, and kind. She is portrayed through most of the series as being unattractive (granted, Emma Watson is quite lovely, in my opinion) and unpopular. Why is this? Why is the useless female character portrayed as attractive and desirable whereas the strong female character is portrayed as undesirable and bothersome? Isn’t this completely opposite of what we should be teaching our girls? Why are there so few independent women portrayed positively in our society?
What are your thoughts on the matter? Are we gearing our young ladies up to be Hermiones or Bellas?