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Why Bella Swan Is the Worst Role Model

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After I saw "Eclipse" over the weekend, it hit me: Bella Swan, the "Twilight" character Kristen Stewart plays, is perhaps the lamest girl in the world.

Twilight


OK, I know "Twilight's" a fantasy -- and trust me, as the mom of a Twihard, I definitely get it. It's fun and romantic and what's not to like about two gorgeous (often shirtless) gents fighting over one girl?! Yes, "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" was by far the best of the three movies. No, I have not read the books. But speaking solely as a moviegoer, I have to ask: What's the deal with Bella?

In this third "Twilight" installment, Bella is graduating from high school (did she ever go to class?!) and gearing up to make the most important decision of her life. No, she's not deciding what college to go to. No, she's not deciding what career to pursue. And no, she's not deciding what to pack for dorm life. Instead, she is deciding whether or not to become a vampire for eternity, so she can be with the only person (thing?) she adores: her beloved Edward.

Twilight


Bella's monologue toward the end of the movie will help explain why she sucks:

"This wasn't a choice between you and Jacob -- it was a choice between who I should be and who I am. I've always felt out of step, like, literally stumbling through my life. I've never felt normal, because I'm not normal. I don't want to be. I've had to face death, and loss, and pain in your world, but I've also never felt stronger -- like, more real; more myself -- because it's my world, too. It's where I belong."

Hey Bella, if you don't feel "normal," why don't you try a sport? Or join a club? Or, I dunno, try making friends with people who don't sparkle in the daylight? How can you be in love with a male vampire you've only talked about two things with (i.e., your love for each other and the dangers you both face)? I would love to hear Bella and Edward talk about their favorite reality-TV show, or the band they like, or ... hell, even Monday Night Football.

Twilight


Instead, Bella spends her time hanging out with creepy "people" wearing only dark and gloomy colors, and it really bothers me that she could care less about her father. She likes to test the line of whether or not Edward will suck her blood by making out with him and now, in "Eclipse," trying to make love, despite the risk of spawning a vampire baby.

Since Bella's a girl who has no ambitions and no interests, it's really sad that she's the heroine girls around the world are beyond jealous of. Sure, she is pretty, and her long, auburn hair is beautiful. But I don't like it that my daughter wants a boyfriend "like Bella's." I don't want my daughter to be anything like Bella.


next: Dear Alicia Keys: You're Pregnant -- Please Sit Down!
92 comments so far | Post a comment now
Karen July 20, 2010, 12:22 PM

I completely agree. The character of Bella Swan is not one that young girls should be wanting to emulate. I’ve read all the books and seen all the movies. When Edward left in New Moon, most of the story was about how she did not want to live without him (literally - to the point of suicide). This, to me, is not a positive image for a character being written as a heroine in books directed at the ‘tween age group. That is a very impressionable age. I want my daughter to be independant, strong and not reliant on anyone but herself -Bella Swan is neither of those. She puts Edward above her family, her friends and herself.

I wish people would see these books for the mess that they really are. These may be the most poorly written books I have ever read. Stephanie Meyer should take some lessons from someone who knows how to write. *cough* JK ROWLING *cough*

Jessica July 20, 2010, 12:55 PM

For everyone who is doubting Bella as being a good role model, how many of you have read the books? Bella and Edward do talk about their interests in the first book. Bella is also always reading a book. Like Wuthering Heights or Romeo and Juliet. She always talks about doing her homework so she can get good grades. I think she is a really good role model. She takes care of her mom and dad and cares for them dearly(which she talks extensively about in the books). She is just a teenager in love. Granted it’s a fictional love with mystical creatures that do not exist but that is where the fantasy comes in. I understand that a lot of the older people have lost imagination but having imagination is the great thing about reading fantasy/science fiction. The whole issue of her making a decision to become a vampire is because she has to due to the vampires that will kill her if she doesn’t. The school issue is solved in the fourth book after she gets married. She does decide that she wants to go to college and a really good college at that. Also in previous books it’s explained that she was in advanced placement classes when she was in Arizona because she was smart and had really good grades. And for those of you who are like “oh my gosh she’s trying to have sex with him!” Come on! Do you think that all your teenagers are angels and haven’t thought about sex? At least Bella is ready to do it with someone she deeply cares about and loves. Plus she’s 18 when she does decide she wants to. It’s not like she’s 15 or 16 making that decision. Then she agrees to wait until she is married. Also at that point they don’t even know of or about vamp/human babies even existing. So before you talk about a girl not having interests and/or ambitions maybe you should do the research. Anything else you have to complain about please inform me so that I can prove you wrong in those too.

Sisi July 20, 2010, 10:34 PM

I agree with you to some extent. Like others have said, you should read the books to have full insight, although honestly there really is no other depth to Bella. She is a bad role model and although it’s fiction children still model her behaviour. How many of us as little girls wanted to be like Nancy Drew or Hermione Granger. Even characters like Katniss from the Hunger Games Series. Just because a character is fictional doesn’t meant she is not a role model. Bella has no aspirations, no goals and has made her self worth and confidence totally dependent on the opinion of a few boys. We should be teaching girls to be strong, confident, smart, achieving and self confident members of society. We should be teaching them to be assertive and proud not self deprecating. There are so many other issues with the novels, such as promoting unhealthy and dangerous relationships, that I could go into this one seems almost small. I’m all for reading fun entertaining books. But as far as novels go, this one is not only written poorly but is full of negative messages for girls. It’s ok to read fluff but there is a lot better fluff out there. Finally, those who think Edward is the most amazing person on the planet, please think again. Is it ok, for a boyfriend to break a car and forbid a girl to see her friends, is it ok to be constantly threatening her(that is really what all of the I can hurt you quotes are), is it ok to isolate her from all of her friends and family. I understand that people see these as harmless novels and they can be, but I ask please think critically about what you read.

sw July 21, 2010, 10:00 PM

AMEN!!!!!!!!

Don’t get me wrong, I read (and thoroughly enjoyed) the bosom-heaving book series.

BUT OH MY GOODNESS have I been waiting to hear someone else say this.

Her whole attitude is “Oh Edward my life is meaningless without you I’d rather die than be away from you!!” Get a clue, Bella.

It is entertaining, yes, but ‘tweens everywhere need a better role model to obsess over.

Twihard = twifag July 22, 2010, 6:39 AM

I agree with the poster. Bella is a weak, annoying girl. She doesn’t care about anyone other than the vampires, disregarding her friends and family for her “love” who she barely knows. No guys are like Edward and Jacob, they aren’t realistic and no guy will ever treat you that way.

I’ve read the books, by the way

christine chilson July 22, 2010, 9:52 PM

Get over it! My how we forget what it is like to be young! Do you remeber Duran Duran? Your love and desire to be with the beautiful people that you saw on the screen? Are you not confident that you raised your daughter with the ability to know wrong from right? Did you not teach your kid to respect human life? Did you neglect to instill in your baby the ability to know fiction from reality? You are right (jk)…let’s just turn her over to bigger and better role models. I heard that Lady Gaga is doing great…Lindssy Lohan will be a wonderful one (in about 4 months)..better yet, Miley Cirus ( lap dancing for a 31 year old man when she is 16). Again, get over it and get off your high horse.

Stack July 23, 2010, 3:08 AM

This Prose has Thorns!

Ignore those commenters who deny you a voice because you didn’t read the books: the books don’t make it any better, MomLogic, and in many ways, make it much much worse. Furthermore, if you can’t smile at the purplest prose since Harlequin opened its doors, don’t bother to wade through Meyer’s (rejected by 14 agents) magnum drivellum. I have and I’ll never get that week back.

Bella is a one-stroke, stick figure of a character, and Kristen Stewart has my admiration for doing as much as she did to make her in any way interesting. Absolutely every other character in the books is more interesting, but we’re limited by her perspective, which is of course Meyers’ own: Bella Swan is a classic Mary Sue. She is a perfect example of why Mary Sue/ author surrogate characters are the acme of bad writing. Clumsiness is NOT a plot device. Sudden fixations for no clear reason of actually cool characters do not make for realism, and sudden transformations from plain Jane to stunning glorious Jayne make for a great Ugly Duckling endings, but ring incredibly hollow to a critical reader’s heart.

The sins of Twilight are legion, but I count the most egregious being how it has encouraged otherwise sane and intelligent women to set aside their discernment and critical faculties in favour of an empty “love story” that if actually examined reveals dogmatic, oppressive, condescending pablum while glossing over assault, emotional abuse, stalking, breaking and entering, passive aggressive manipulation, and teen pregnancy, to name a few actual crimes.

Yes, we get it: it’s fiction. Here’s a funny truth: novels are immersive, which means the reader “loses themselves in the story”. If you think that doesn’t affect thought processes or emotional balances, you’ve never cried while reading a book.

Every experience you have shapes you, informs your decisions and ideas and perspectives, and the MORE you are affected by something, the more that experience shapes those processes. Think carefully about that before you pardon Meyer’s prose sins against young women (and men!) as “mere” fiction.


Nicole July 24, 2010, 2:46 PM

Wow, I am really sorry for the author of this.
You’d think on a mothers website she’d get more than “OMFGZZZ YOU CAN’T DIS BELLAAAAAAA!”
She has an opinion just like the rest of you so tone it the hell down!
Sheesh!

Wendy July 26, 2010, 3:53 PM

Some of you defending the author are just as bad as those quick to insult her. Disregarding whether or not the series is good, the author fully admits to not reading the books and making a judgment on Bella’s character. I would’ve thought by now that it’s common knowledge that any movie based on a book is going to lack some details. If she had read Twilight, she would know that Bella doesn’t feel “normal” because she doesn’t fit in with her classmates. Since when did we start telling all teenagers who don’t enjoy the same thing as their classmates to “go join a sport?” That statement is especially inappropriate for Bella, and if you read any of the books or even paid attention to the first movie, you’d know she’s an absolute klutz. For the person who said s/he only skimmed the books and could tell Bella Swan is an awful character, you didn’t prove how great your judgment is. All who have read the series can tell you that every other sentence IS about how great Edward is, so you absolutely cannot get an accurate feel for the book just by skimming. Unless by luck you just happened to flip to a paragraph with actual plot.

For some, their life goal isn’t making it to the top of the ladder in the corporate world. These days it’s so important for women to be out there competing, proving we’re just as good as men, that those who place more emphasis on loving their significant other are deemed foolish. For so many years we tried to attain equal rights that now we’ve actually limited ourselves. Success comes in many forms, don’t forget that.

Valerie July 29, 2010, 3:35 PM

Well, the movies tend to skip over things that happen in the books. I think thats why you say such things. In the book Bella and Edward DO talk about thier favorite bands and music, and in the book Bella is horrible at any sport, she tends to hurt herself or others when she is in p.e. In the book, bella is very shy. She Doesnt like being with people, thats why she likes charlie cuz he doesnt linger around. And in the book edaward and bella have a few days where they get to know each other, they ask multiple questions about thier likes and personality. Before making a rant such as this you shold really read the actual books.

Nicole Davis July 29, 2010, 5:35 PM

You obviously haven’t read the books, because most of what you said was explained in the books. She went to class, she was very smart, and studied all the time.Come on people maybe you want the best for your kids & want them to make a lot of money and all that, but it’s not your life it’s theirs all you can do is raise them right and hope it was enough.
What our kids get about this movie/book that you don’t is that Bella is happy and that is what life is about. I have two kids and I don’t care what they choose housewife or doctor as long as they are happy.
I can still understand why kids are attracted to this movie/book because I am only 25 and refuse to settle. An my husband & I are unconditionally and irrevocably in love & I couldn’t ask for more.
Life is to short to be pushing people to do what you want them to do, and kids get that it’s about being uncondtionally happy not satisfied.

Tomaz Z. August 1, 2010, 1:25 AM

“could care less about her father” ?

That as an expression for “not or hardly caring” makes no sense whatsoever. If you could care less about something, all you’re telling us is that you DO care about something at least a little bit, because you could care less.

If you didn’t care at all, since negative caring is impossible, or rather, of another kind (two sides of the same coin, etc.), the only logical phrase is “couldn’t care less”.

ESM August 11, 2010, 11:48 PM

I love J K Rowling, and, if we talk about vampires, no one is superior to Anne Rice, it’s almost offensive to make the comparison: but if you just read Twilight AND Interview with the Vampire and co. you’ll just see what I mean. The character in Interview with the Vampire were not positive, I was a dark in that teen-age period (yeah, you can snigger..)wearing my black clothes and make-up..but I was romantic, I had a passion for music and books and archeology and research..and enjoyed every turn of mind, every feeling of joy/anger/awe I read in Rice’s characters, the baby vampire Claudia was a psychological study by itself, the relationship between Lestat and Louis ( and Louis was a human-life preserver..at least when he could help it)was alwais twisting and maddening and you would feel pity/satisfaction/glee/sadness while turning those pages. Whe I opened Twilight my first thought was: “funny girl..” then “ok get to the point..” “oh, no again?..Oh, please, not such a cliche…who published this rubbish??” This is what happens in today’s world, where it is more important what can get you money than what is actually a good book. If they wanted a response to J K Rowling’s success anyway..misson failed.

The Machine August 15, 2010, 2:30 PM

i’m just laughing so hard at all the twitards bashing the author of this post. smdh i can’t wait till the last movie is out and all this twilight garbage is finally laid to rest.

Elena August 19, 2010, 8:25 PM

Maybe you should read the book before rambling about what a “horrible” role model Bella is. It’s common knowledge movies don’t portray half of what is in books. So before you start talking crap why don’t you read the books and do proper research. Then maybe you wouldn’t appear so damn ignorant.

Yanny August 20, 2010, 3:21 AM

Just treat it as a fantasy story. The reality is of course different and Bella is not a good role model, she only cares to become a vampire. I think it’s a very weak thought and does not belong to this reality world in which money and ambition is important.

Debra August 23, 2010, 10:46 PM

I couldn’t agree more! I read a lot and abunch of my friends told me I HAD to read these rediculous books… so, I gave it a shot. The first one pissed me off so much, because I have never read about a more pathetic charactor as Bella. The first book reads like my diary from 4th grade. “I’m so in love”.. “I think I’m gonna die if he doesn’t smile at me”.. “life is so unfair”.. blah blah blah. She’s too damn old to be that pathetic! Let’s hope your daughter is smart enough to not take her seriously.

Anonymous November 2, 2010, 2:56 AM

IT IS A FICTIONAL CHARACTER!! GET THAT THROUGH YOUR THICK HEADS!! NO ONE SAYS ANYTHING WHEN ALL YOU BORING HOUSEWIVES READ YOUR STUPID ROMANCE NOVELS! MAYBE YOU SHOULD BE THINKING ABOUT WAYS THAT YOU COULD BE A ROLE MODEL FOR YOUR DAUGHTERS RATHER THAN POINTING FINGERS AT WHO’S TO BLAME! “MAN UP”! IT ALL BEGINS WITHIN THE HOME, WITH THE PARENTS! SPEND SOME QUALITY TIME WITH YOUR DAUGHTER AND MAYBE YOU’LL FIND OUT THAT SHE DOESN’T WANT TO BE BELLA OR BE IN LOVE WITH EDWARD BUT SHE ADMIRES THE QUALITIES THAT THEY HAVE!

Catherine November 10, 2010, 4:42 PM

Anyone who says the book goes into more detail… I’m sorry, I disagree. I read all four books, enjoyed them immensely at the time, but always thought Bella was rather self-centered and I NEVER had a good feeling about Edward. I mean talk about your Mary Sue & Gary Stu couple! Edward was too perfect for me. Don’t get me wrong though, I didn’t think Jacob was right for Bella either (no reason for that one though, it’s just Edward was there first… c’mon…).

Anyway, the point is: Bella is just a shell of a girl who likes books and Edward and ignoring non-immortal friends and Edward… and Edward…. Once the shiny glimmer of Edward’s sparkle (ew) fades from your eyes though, you see that he is just a sort of weird, posessive, obsessed guy with stalker tendancies. And Bella let’s him stay in her room all the time, and control her, and she literally refuses to have a life outside of their relationship! That’s why she needed to become immortal: to further ingrain her codependence on him into her mind. Oh, and also, being a vampire makes you pretty forEVER. Goody. Obviously, she’s not my role model. :)

Alright, I was a tad vitriolic up there, but I honestly mean no offence whatsoever to lovers of Twilight. But its vain characters and endless, predictable plot have ceased to hold my attention. I think I was just waiting for the next Harry Potter to come out and needed a distraction—it worked! But thank goodness I’m over it.

Hopefully your daughter will grow out of this too, and see that while the Twilight series is nice, it’s not any more substantial than the advice section of a Seventeen magazine, and should be taken as seriously.

Love and Luck,
Catherine (age 16, so no one hate me!)

Jenee November 23, 2010, 10:35 AM

If you read the books you will know that the Cullen family have all been through college and school numerous times. Part of living forever.


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