When Bridget Jones first burst into our lives back in the 90s, she informed us in no uncertain terms that being single in your 30s was, quite possibly, the worst state of being that any woman could find herself in.
“Tom has a theory that homosexuals and single women in their thirties have natural bonding: both being accustomed to disappointing their parents and being treated as freaks by society,” she told us from the pages of Helen Fielding’s novel.
And it wasn’t just society that treated singletons like a disease; they did it to themselves, too, becoming so enamoured with this idea of the “perfect” marriage that the media convinced them they needed.
“Even the most outrageous minxes lose their nerve, wrestling with the first twinges of existential angst,” said Bridget. “[We all find ourselves with] fears of dying alone and being found three weeks later half-eaten by an Alsatian.”
However, in the new film Bridget Jones’ Baby, Bridget (played by Renee Zellweger) is doing perfectly well by herself. Sure, she’s broken up with Mark Darcy (Colin Firth), but she’s a successful news producer, owns her very own flat, and bad ex-boyfriend Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant) is nothing more than a fond – or not-so-fond – memory.
So what’s changed?
Well, speaking at the world premiere of the film, Fielding explained that when she created Bridget in 1995 it was "genuinely slightly embarrassing to be single in your 30s."
She told ITV News: "It was like 'what's the problem?' Bridget said 'underneath my clothes my whole body is covered in scales'.
"That's what people thought - that you would die alone and end up being eaten by a dog. But now there is the word singleton and it's more accepted."
Despite the world’s acceptance of women forging different paths for themselves, however, Fielding added that it is harder to be yourself nowadays.
And it’s all thanks to social media.
She explained: "The kids now post on Instagram, but they are not posting their worst day or their fattest day, they are posting their most beautiful touched up day and everyone is feeling a bit bad about themselves.
"It's brutal if the Snapchat is of someone who has just dumped you with someone else, which happens all the time.”
She added: "It's not just not being at the party, it's seeing everyone at the party. More than ever, people need to hang on to the solid stuff."
Thank goodness, then, that we have Bridget back on our screens to remind us that it’s okay to go against the status quo, get things wrong sometimes, and shun the concept of ‘perfection’.
As Zellweger put it: “[The new film] shows how everyone has evolved in their lives and we can catch up with the people we fell in love with. It feels like a happy reunion with old friends.
“She makes us feel like it’s OK to be imperfect, she makes me laugh.”
Bridget Jones’s Baby is released in the UK on September 16.
Images: Rex pictures