We are not all size 2 blondes, says Jamie Anne Richardson as she writes about relating to chick lit characters.
Sex in the City was my first exposure to chick-lit. I was awestruck by the fashion, the steam, and the lifestyle of those ladies. But they were totally not me. I am small town southern girl.Then I found The Nanny Diaries. Again, amazing lifestyle that opened my eyes to other worlds, but I really could not relate. I am a stay-at-home mother to three and a freelance writer. Childrearing is my 24/7 duty.
The Devil Wears Prada was not me either. While I could relate to the discomfort of someone trying to force you into skin that is not your own, I could not relate to the idea of Andrea Sachs being fat. As a former genuinely fat girl myself, hearing the New York idea of fat totally turned me off.
Nora Roberts? No offense, but my husband supplies plenty of romance already.
It was not until I discovered Jennifer Weiner’s Little Earthquakes that I realized that there really are other women in books that are like me. They are moms, they have “real” size bodies, realistic struggles, and they are still working through them. Most of them do not even need to get their head shrunk to get through raising a toddler. Anxiety, fear, potty training, carpool, family drama—those things I can relate to.
Once I found that authors were successfully writing about fun things like crayons on walls, kids defecating in public, and not stepping on the scale until after your first morning pee … then I gave myself permission to pursue this genre without faking a desire for fashion and perfect homes.
Soon I started reading back over some of the authors I previously rejected and realized that each of these books has its own place on my chick-lit shelf for their own reason, and they are not just here to make “real women” like me feel like losers.
Sex in the City, for example, can allow us an escape into the fancy lifestyles of the uptown New York life. We can live vicariously through their sins without feeling filthy in the morning. We can find ourselves in one of the women and our friends in another. We know which character is just like us and which one we wish we were instead. It is like a staycation in cardboard binding.
Then there is The Nanny Diaries. This one allowed me to fantasize about how wonderful it might be to have someone else do the ugly side of childrearing. It showed me that life is not necessarily better in the bigger house, the problems are just more expensive. If nothing else, it made me feel better about myself. Hey, at least I’m a better parent (and person and wife) than Mrs. X!
Nora Roberts inspires me to put a little steam in my own writing, which is something that is difficult for a clean-cut southern lady, but she has shown me how to add sizzle with tact like none other I’ve read. (As long as I tell my mother which chapters to skip, we should be okay.)
And Jennifer Weiner … wow … she has got to be my favorite author ever. I “get” her. I “get” her characters. Realistically, she is not good for me because my life hits pause when her novels come out.
No, we are not all size 2 blondes, but even hefty brunettes can fall in love with a good chick-lit book if you keep it in perspective and allow it to transport you to the private island of the author’s creation. Leave the judgment in the Self Help section and let your brain relax with a fun read for a while.
Jamie Richardson is a mum to three kids age 3 to 7. Her essays appeared in Chicken Soup of the Soul twice last year. She freelances for several publications including http://www.SheIsDallas.com while maintaining her personal blog. Jamie is writing her first chick-lit novel, Whine and Wine, about three women who help each other through some difficult struggles including raising kids, adultery, and the porn star of a neighbor. You can follow this self-proclaimed Coffee Queen on her blog, on her Facebook author page and on Twitter.