As you may know, I enjoyed the Twilight Saga. I defended it from people who think it's only for teenagers and lonely middle-aged women. I found it laughable that people could say it was poorly written when it is so engrossing and most readers can't put the books down. However, now I am rethinking how I feel about Twilight. Now, I think that Twilight is like Barbie.
Bear with me here. You hear a lot of complaints that Barbie dolls give young girls unrealistic expectations of how they should look. I grew up playing with Barbies and continued to do so well into college. (Okay, so maybe I didn't play with Barbies in college, but I did make several "Barbie movies" for projects, including The Little Mermaid for Feminist Philosophy.) And I never, ever once in my life thought "Wow, I should have an eighteen inch waist!" I enjoyed Barbie for what she was—a dress up doll.
Twilight can also give young girls some wrong ideas. For example: if you have really low self esteem, it's very important to get a boyfriend—preferably a really hot one who's "too good" for you; if your boyfriend dumps you, go into a catatonic state for several months; you must change who you are to be with said hot boyfriend, even if he doesn't want you to; it's totally acceptable to get married at eighteen; it's cool to have babies at eighteen as well.
I had never thought about the messages these books may be giving to young girls before I saw Breaking Dawn - Part 1 this weekend. After the movie, I saw two teenage girls carrying baby dolls around. I was horrified. Now, perhaps they were just doing this to be funny. But there was also the possibility that they wanted to emulate Bella. It's cute when teenagers dress up like witches and wizards for Harry Potter movies. It's scary as hell when teenagers dress up like mommy Bella.
I have always found Bella's insecurity and her placement of Edward on a pedestal really annoying, but now I find it dangerous. I really hope that teenagers who are already insecure are not idolizing Bella and/or waiting for their Edward. Granted, Bella does become a stronger character toward the end of the series, but she still has to turn into a vampire to become her ultimate strong (and "perfect") self. I feel that these messages are all wrong!
However, it is important to keep in mind that this is a work of fiction, it's not a how-to. I enjoyed the Twilight books as entertainment and didn't look to them as the way life should be. I never wanted a guy like Edward (although Robert Pattinson is mouthwateringly hot) or Jacob. I never thought that having a boyfriend would fix everything. I don't want to be like Bella (or Barbie). I want to be like me.
For a very humorous (and male) perspective on Twilight, please see The Oatmeal.