International Women's Month

Fluff-n-Stuff


Photo courtesy of The Independent
Photo courtesy of The Independent

Chick Lit is a genre we’re all familiar with which targets professional females in the 20-30 age range.  Feminists and critics alike have criticised Chick Lit for its love, image and career obsessed female leads as well as their often unrealistic plot lines.  The recent article in The Independent is a great example of some recent Chick Lit bashing.

After coming across that article (and reading some of the ridiculous comments at the bottom, like ‘If you read chick lit you’ve probably got a big bum in the first place‘), I couldn’t help but wonder why people were hatin’ on an entire genre meant to entertain.  I’m no guru when it comes to Chick Lit, so I got in touch with my friend Leah from Chick Lit News and Reviews, who is pretty much an expert on all things Chick Lit, and asked her what the deal was!

I asked her one question and got such an amazing, in-depth response that I just had to post her whole answer.

Do you see Chick-Lit as being an empowering thing for today’s women, despite the criticism out there?  Why or why not?

Believe it or not, I think this is a difficult question to give one straight answer to. As far as I’m concerned, I’d say Chick Lit can be empowering if that’s what you want it to be. That is the beauty of Chick Lit, it doesn’t just span the one genre any more – the single girl about town, buying shoes and getting drunk and worrying about her weight. Chick Lit spans so much more than that. Yes, you still get the light and fluffy side of life with the likes of Sophie Kinsella, Paige Toon, Lindsey Kelk, Jane Costello, but on the flip side you get the more serious issues dealt with by Marian Keyes, Lisa Jewell. Then there’s everything in the middle. There probably are Chick Lit novels that are empowering, but I’m a bit dense when it comes to words like that, and it’s probably not how I’d describe Chick Lit if ever asked, although I’m sure some say it is empowering.

I think the naysayers and critics just like the idea of criticising something. Chick Lit is the easiest of all book genres to criticise it seems, but it’s as if these so-called critics have only read Bridget Jones’ Diary (which I did not like AT ALL or find empowering in any which way!) and decided that that one book sums up the whole genre and so they are well able to dismiss the genre as silly and fluffy and unrealistic, when they’ve got it all wrong. I read an article the other week that said, believe it or not, that reading Chick Lit gives women weight issues.  Are you kidding me? I’m not on a diet right now because I read Chick Lit and find the skinny heroines (of which there aren’t many, Chick Lit heroines come in all shapes and sizes) intimidating or something I aspire to look like (though I do, perhaps negating my point a tad), I am on a diet because I want to live a healthier lifestyle. It’s like saying playing Grand Theft Auto means you’ll go out and kill a person. Just because you read about a skinny person or because you play a game with a gun doesn’t mean you’re going to suddenly have weight issues or go out and kill a woman. Yeah, I get a bit jealous when I read of a rather large heroine losing buckets of weight without it being an issue, but that’s about it. Chick Lit is fiction, and getting jealous of skinny fictional people is quite possibly on the road to madness, and whoever wrote that article needs their head examining.  It’s articles like that that damage Chick Lit, and they’re written without any kind of thought. It’s like the journalist just woke up one day and thought, “Hey, I know, I’ll write some crap about Chick Lit and see if it sticks.” Chick Lit is an easy target, and the criticism is unnecessary. I say to the Chick Lit naysayers: If you don’t like the genre, don’t read it. It’s that simple; go read something that you do like, life’s too short to waste on something you don’t. It’s like everybody’s mother says: If you haven’t got anything nice to say, shut the hell up!

I read – and love – Chick Lit because it’s a genre that speaks to me. I am a twenty-something girl and I can relate quite nicely to the heroines in Chick Lit novels. When I get in from a hard day’s work, these are the books I want to read. Not because they’re light and fluffy, or because they’re vacuous or their plots are totally out of this world, but because I just love the genre. I love the humour (you will never find a funnier author than Sophie Kinsella, she is ace), I love how authors like Marian Keyes tackle addiction and depression and things people don’t expect from Chick Lit (yes, folks, depression and addiction. In Chick Lit.), I adore the magical worlds Cecelia Ahern transports us to, but most of all, the reason I really love Chick Lit, is for the happy ever afters. The worst thing Chick Lit will ever do to me is make me want a happy ever after with a hero that’s so ridiculously perfect he can’t possibly be real. Is that a bad thing? I don’t think so. It’s nice to dream about a book-worthy happy ever after, even if I won’t get my very own Luke Brandon (sob). I love the fact that I KNOW when I reach the end of a Chick Lit book there will be a happy ever after (and if there isn’t, if it’s an open ending, I will be annoyed!).

Chick Lit makes me happy. That’s the truth. I don’t know if it is or is not empowering. That’s up to you, the reader, if you see it that way, but I find that it makes me happy. You can’t read a crime book and finish it and think “Wow, that was a happy book, wasn’t it?” but with Chick Lit that’s guaranteed. All Chick Lit books should have that stamped on – 100% happiness guaranteed. At the end of the day, Chick Lit has thousands of fans, and it’s still growing. Every one (read: the critics) keeps saying the genre is going to die, but that simply isn’t true. As long as women out there like to read about women like them, there will always be a place for Chick Lit in the world. It’s probably the most popular genre in the world, and I’m not just saying that. People want to read a book that will make them happy, a book that can make them dream about their very own happy ever after, and Chick Lit ticks ALL of the boxes, and then some.

I told you Leah was an expert.  I couldn’t agree with her more—if you don’t like Chick Lit, don’t read it.  I don’t like that 50 Shades or Twilight stuff, so I don’t read it.  End of story.

Make sure you check out Leah’s Chick Lit News and Reviews… it’s brilliant if you’re a fan of Chick Lit and need ideas on what to read next!  I’m only a new fan of the genre and am positively hooked on her site!

steph2

If you’re interested in getting in touch, tweet me at @stephanie_khani or @londondiaries1.  Alternatively you can email me at emailthelondondiaries [at] gmail.com.

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4 thoughts on “Fluff-n-Stuff

  1. Brilliant post. I couldn’t agree more and think Chick Lit is a great way to deliver interesting topics in a warm and entertaining way.

    I have just finished writing a book about my time running a matchmaking agency and initially, I experimented on many different styles of writing, hoping to get my message across. Eventually I settled on a more conversational tone – and before I knew it, I’d written a entirely Chick Lit novel.

    Writing is meant to entertain and engage and, as Leah said the Chick Lit genre certainly achieves that.

    1. Bravo, Haley, for “making it happen”! I really enjoy reading yoru blog and can’t wait to read the book! Perhaps we could even work out an interview?

  2. The chick-lit umbrella is just too broad to make any sweeping remarks at all. I love the authors mentioned above. They are more likely to pass the Bechdel test (1. Two women 2.Having a conversation 3.That’s not about men) than most TV or film characters. I think it gets slated by a lot of people who’ve read a couple of bad one and taken them as standard. Telegraph spoke about this last year and used Mills & Boons as examples. I wouldn’t put the two together as I see the latter as being sad housewives relying on the heroes for rescue but hey! I’ve only read two so probably can’t comment on the whole lot 😀

    While I get what you’re saying about if you don’t like it, don’t read it, I also think you really do need to think about what effect it has on the reader. For example Twilight is something I wouldn’t want my daughter to absorb and use as a healthy template of this is what love is (the “I will protect you even if it means I completely ignore what you think about it” ness). I wouldn’t tell a grown-up to read or not read it though.

  3. This was a great post and so true! I think there is so much garbage that ends up in the chick lit category and I absolutely loved what Leah said in her response, especially “I read – and love – Chick Lit because it’s a genre that speaks to me.” That’s the whole point of reading! It’s enjoyable and something that provides us with characters and stories to love! I tend to gravitate to a heroine that I can root for and relate to! Unlike some of the recent leading ladies I’ve read about that seem like they need rescuing, that are almost shown in a kind of pathetic way….. Luckily, I have come across a fabulous book that I have to recommend after reading your post called “Shanghai Love” by author Layne Wong (http://laynewong.com/). It is an unlikely love story between a Chinese herbalist and a Jewish refugee looking for safety from Nazi Germany. The herbalist, Peilin, was betrothed to a man who was killed before their wedding but tradition and honor forced the marriage along anyways. She is sent to Shanghai to manage his family’s herbal shop. Shanghai is also Henri’s destination as he has graduated from medical school as Hitler is rising to power. He flees to Shanghai where he’s befriended by Ping, Peilin’s brother. Through her kindness, Henri becomes fascinated with Chinese herbs as well as the exotic culture surrounding him. It is such a gripping story with a female character that you care about and that deserves a happy ending! Hope you will give it a try and add it to the list of empowering chick lit books!

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