I remember the first time we met, back when I was a student. A friend rushed over to me and shoved a dog-eared copy of your diary into my hand. "You have to read this - NOW!" she screeched. I was always happy to have an excuse not to attend tutorials, so I rushed back to halls. I gobbled up every delicious page in one afternoon.
OK, so we didn't technically meet, what with me being far away in Australia, and you being a fictional character. But from that moment, Ms Jones, you became a massive part of my life. It felt like I knew you, as if you were one of those friends who is always there to hold your hair back after a party, provide comfort after a break-up, or just knock back a large bottle of Sauv blanc while wearing jogging bottoms.
Every time I needed you, there you were. Flicking through the pages of your diary was like having a rock solid buddy whispering in my ear, "Don't worry, we all fuck up, but its going to be OK!" You were our champion of singletons, our patron saint of happy awkward women, our super hero in big pants.
On top of all that, you made a refreshing change from Kate Moss and the other waifs who dominated the catwalks and the media back in the nineties. With their skinny jeans and stringy underwear, it felt like they were mocking our big bums and rounded thighs.
But then along came you, Bridget - this gorgeous, voluptuous woman who knew her way round a crap Christmas jumper and celebrated giant knickers in all their comfy, absorbent glory. You gave us permission to stop sucking our stomachs in and pour ourselves another wine. I embraced the M&S "Full Brief" cut - wearing my "Bridget Pants" made me feel invincible on the inside, even as I made yet more disastrous life choices and blagged my way through the noughties.
Now me and the rest of the Bridget generation are hitting our forties. Many of us have made the move into the "smug marrieds" category, but to be honest, it's not all its cracked up to be - especially for those of us with kids. Because it's hard to feel smug when you've got sick in your hair, and have been wearing the same yoga pants for six days in a row.
The transition from free and fabulous singleton to a world of nipple cream and muslin squares is not pretty. Life is now messy in a whole new way. Those wild nights out with the girls go the way of our pert boobs and pelvic floors. Our Bridget lives are ending - or so I thought.
But then I was overjoyed to find you were coming back, and with a baby to boot. It was like you were turning up at my house with a freshly backed lasagne, a giant Toblerone, and a box of Sainsbury's house white. My old friend was returning to my bosom, and she wasn't going to mind the fact it now looked like a pair of spaniel's ears.
I decided to celebrate the occasion in the appropriate style. I downloaded the new movie, booted the hubby and the kids out of the house, and curled up on the sofa in my PJs. It was just like the old days - I laughed like a honking goose, and cried happy tears like Gwyneth. Thank goodness for panty liners and that roll of loo paper I keep on the coffee table for snotty noses.
Once again, it feels like you're right on time. The rise of yummy mummies and perfect #instamums is out of hand. Soft-focused photos of happy pregnant women and #blessed family portraits aren't telling the whole truth - our scummy truth.
Whatever our circumstances - whether we are single, married or don't know who the father of our child is - parenthood is often a heady mix of complicated joy and abject fear. It's a journey into the unknown, but supportive girlfriends can be a huge help, and we can get through it, one overflowing nappy and supermarket tantrum at a time.
So thank you, Bridget, for coming back to us, and being just as hilarious, honest and wonderful as always. You remain our hero in big pants, and we love you... Just as you are.
Love Helen X
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