The Twilight Series is Extremely Problematic, and Here’s Why:

There are many issues with what young girls are exposed to and the media they consume as they learn to navigate the changes in their relationships and bodies. One of my biggest concerns is the popularity of the Twilight series when I was growing up. The books and movies became a huge hit when I was in 5th grade. At 10 years old, I’d never been exposed to teenage relationships before. Everyone was reading and watching Twilight, and soon, so was I. Almost immediately, I was obsessed with the books and eagerly awaited the release of each new movie. Now, looking back, there is nothing I regret more than how much I indulged in this teen fiction series. These books and movies set such bad examples for young adults. It perpetuates so many harmful ideas and teaches teenagers all the wrong things. It not only sets a bad role model for young women but also young men.

First of all, Bella’s character is a horrible portrayal of a teenage girl. Her whole life revolves around men. She falls in love with Edward very quickly in book one, and when he leaves her in book two, she is completely destroyed. Her life very quickly falls apart, and she loses all sense of self. It seemed like Stephanie Meyer really wanted to stress just how dependent Bella’s happiness was on the men in her life. Especially because Bella only started to feel better in New Moon after Jacob stepped in to fill Edward’s role. This conception that women need men to live full and happy lives is utterly ridiculous. It leads teenage girls to believe that their priority should be finding a boyfriend. Bella is described as a bright student with lots of potential in the novel, yet she spends all of her time thinking and being sad about the men in her life. Worst of all, the biggest decision she makes in this series is choosing to be with Edward over Jacob. This is essentially what the story is about, a girl deciding between two competing males. If that isn’t primitive, I don’t know what is. Honestly! What was Stephanie Meyer thinking? Are men the only thing that women worry about? What about when Bella got into Dartmouth in the last few books? Why did she have to suggest that the only reason Bella got in was because of Edward? So many young girls read and worship these novels. Meyer has a responsibility when she puts these stories out there.

I also take issue with Edward and Jacob. Edward is portrayed as the Prince Charming in this novel, and I, like many other young girls, fell in love with him. Now, Stephanie Meyer’s romanticism of Edward’s character might be the worst and scariest part of these novels. Edward is portrayed as this beautiful, strong, amazing man but he is also a stalker and emotionally abusive. Why did we think it was sexy and sweet when Edward watched Bella sleep without her permission? Why did we think that him controlling who she spent time with and where she went was protective rather than abusive? And yet all of these teenage girls reading these novels fell in love with him. This is teaching the young men of our society that it is okay to treat women this way, that it is romantic and sexy! Also, Jacob and Edward’s testosterone in this series is completely ridiculous. All they do is try to fight over Bella like she is property. The whole series revolves around Bella, a damsel in distress, and our two men racing to see who can save her first. This is not romantic. It’s sexist, and it reinforces all of the gender norms in society that young adults feel pressured to stick to.

While I have many criticisms of these books and movies, I understand that they are entertaining, so I know why they have been consumed on such a large scale. However, to label these novels and films as romantic is scary and problematic. Authors and movie producers have a responsibility for what they are putting out there to the masses, especially when such a large number of their audience are teenagers trying to figure out their identities. I urge everyone to be more aware of what we are reading and watching. There is nothing wrong with entertainment, but it’s important that we remind our youth that this is not a model they should admire and live up to.