• Thu, Apr 5 2012

Daily Mail Writer Samantha Brick’s Relative Beauty Isn’t The Point

What’s up with Samantha Brick? Is she a savvy writer who wanted the attention she knew her recent Daily Mail article would spark? Or a raging narcissist who wanted the attention she knew it would spark? The 41-year-old British woman—who lamented the burdens of being too beautiful, getting too much attention from men and having women hate her out of jealousy—has become a top keyword search and a topic of discussion on “The View.” But on TV and online, much of the sometimes-vicious criticism is aimed not at Brick’s obnoxious attitude but at her looks.

The photo that accompanied Brick’s original article didn’t do her any favors. That’s not a comment on her relative attractiveness (which is, obviously, subjective) but on the fact that it’s just a bad picture—Brick looks scared and stiff, awkward smile, awkward pose, ugly dress. Ostensibly, this shouldn’t matter so much; at what level of attractiveness would it be okay for someone to write this article? No matter how beautiful the writer, the piece would still be annoying and perpetrate sexist stereotypes. No matter how beautiful the writer, the boasting, haughty tone would grate (as writer India Knight commented: ”Really best to let other people be the judge with that sort of thing”).

But perhaps Brick’s aggressive averageness is the point. The conversation about this article would be entirely different if it was written by, say, Gisele Bündchen or January Jones or Rihanna (or someone non-famous who looked just like one of them). That Brick isn’t indisputably gorgeous is what has driven this article from casually eye-roll inducing (it’s not as if the beautiful woman’s lament is anything particularly new) to what I guess we call a ‘viral’ sensation (the likes of which we haven’t seen since last week! or the week before!).

Most of the commentary has (not unexpectedly) focused on whether Brick is pretty, and if so, is she sufficiently pretty to warrant men’s attention? or women’s jealousy?, and … Well, here: the Mail has aggregated some of the comments, so see for yourself. A brief sampling:

“She looks like a middle-aged mum!”

“I’ve seen better heads on a pint of Guinness”

“She has a face like a bulldog chewing a wasp!”

Oof. Even Barbara Walters weighed in, saying:

“At the risk of being really not-so-nice … she’s got a problem. She’s not that beautiful. OK?”

Brick says all the critics prove her right (haters gonna hate). In one follow-up, she writes:

“I knew this was sensitive territory at which women would take umbrage — but I thought it was a taboo that needed shattering.”

It’s not. What needs shattering is the myth that women are inherently jealous and resentful of other women, particularly the pretty ones. I like what Emma Gray writes at HuffPo:

The issue isn’t that it’s not that hard to be pretty, or that very few people are going to empathize if you claim that it is, or that it’s a good idea to think twice before lamenting your own gorgeousness in a major newspaper. The issue, which Brick doesn’t seem to realize, is that being valued — or devalued — for your looks alone isn’t good for any women of any shape, size or level of conventional attractiveness. By running this piece, Brick and her editor(s) only underscored that point. The point is also that most women aren’t out to undermine other woman, and we need to stop perpetuating the idea that they are. (emphasis mine)

Indeed Although maybe that’s just one of several points. Another point is: Never trust the Daily Mail. We have been trying to tell you this. I think Lindy West at Jezebel puts it best when she says the Daily Mail is trolling us all, and Brick’s article is “troll-bait of the highest order.”

“[It's] a master stroke of carefully orchestrated misogyny. It basically screams, “HERE, TROLLS! DON’T YOU HATE THIS AWFUL BITCH? LOOK, SHE THINKS SHE’S BETTER THAN YOU BUT SHE ISN’T EVEN PRETTY!” It begs women to go all mean-girl on her (every woman I spoke to succumbed to the temptation immediately), gives men a pass to comment on the relative value and fuckability of her body, and encourages both sexes to eviscerate, body-shame, and judge Brick with impunity because her ideas are so repellant. Like if she were prettier she would have earned the right to say such ridiculous shit.

Stereotypes about British women aside, there’s a reason—misogynistic or simply economic—that Daily Mail editors chose to have (“freakishly average”) Laura Brick write this piece rather than someone who looks like Victoria Beckham.

Photo: Daily Mail

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