Some textbook link-baiting trolling has been occurring over at Daily Mail towers these last few days. “Journalist” Samantha Brick has written a piece entitled “THERE ARE DOWNSIDES TO LOOKING THIS PRETTY: WHY WOMEN HATE ME FOR BEING BEAUTIFUL” [clean link]. In it, Brick describes at length how pretty she is, and how nicely the world treats her: she is the very embodiment of Hakim’s thesis that “the world smiles at attractive people, and they smile back“.
But wait! As I am sure the title signified, it is not all farting rainbow kittens when you look like Samantha Brick. See, other women hate her. They see her as a threat, a great big husband-stealing threat. Daily, Samantha Brick receives animosity, and it must all be because she’s pretty.
Well, no, not exactly. Firstly, it’s probable that at least some of the scorn she receives is due to the fact she’s a fucking Daily Mail journalist. While some people are fascist scum who enjoy reading poorly-written tabloids, many are not. Without even seeing a picture of a Mail journalist, I know that I probably hate them just a little bit, as their continued existence in their professional capacity makes the world a significantly worse place.
As for the rest, Brick seems to have missed the point entirely. There are two large problems she outlines, and neither are explored adequately as instead the piece consists of a repetitive litany of “I’m so pretty and they’re all so mean”. The first problem is benevolent sexism, which Brick receives frequently in the form of freebies from men. She is clearly moving in circles wherein benevolent sexism is more widely accepted, and does not see a problem with it. Unfortunately for Brick, it is a massive problem for her, creating a feedback loop where she can only be judged for the fact that she is a good-looking woman.
This problem can easily be solved by Samantha Brick living up to her name and throwing bricks at sexists.
The other problem Brick highlights is hegemonic heterosexuality. In Brick’s world, heterosexual monogamous relationships are the only possible way to be with people. “A catch” in this system becomes a scarce resource: if you’re lucky, you’ll get one partner; if you’re really lucky, they’ll be a good one. This feeds competition and jealousy, when everything could quite nicely be solved by everyone chucking their keys in a bowl and having a nice orgy over a selection of hummus dips.
Brick’s experience further ties in with the class structure we inhabit: she is reasonably well-off, and therefore can afford good clothes, good make-up, good self-presentation. This luxury may not be available to her neighbours. Again, in this kyriarchical minefield, envy rises and animosity is fuelled.
So, ultimately, all of Samantha Brick’s problems would be solved if she grabbed some bricks and effected a revolution.
Of course, this is not the course Brick chose to pursue. Today, another Mail article appeared: “THE I’M SO BEAUTIFUL BACKLASH… THE BILE JUST PROVES I’M RIGHT“. Er, no it doesn’t.
In this piece, Brick reiterates that women are just nasty, jealous bitches (for some reason, the criticism she received from men is ungendered: presumably this conflicts with her thesis that it’s just horrid, horrid women).
Once again, there are a few good points in the article, which Samantha Brick misses entirely. She is right to point out that much of the backlash levelled at her was “well, she’s not really that attractive”, and that is rather nasty. What she ignores, though, is that this is indicative of a system which is radically in need of bashing in with bricks, and that her looks should be completely irrelevant.
Samantha Brick is both a victim and a perpetrator in this system. Assuming what she has written encapsulates her true experience rather than sensationalist Daily Mail drivel, she has stumbled on a whole host of problems for which she chooses to lash out at her peers and shift the blame onto individuals. Yet it is not a problem of personal meanness, or spite. It is a cluster of symptoms of system which needs destroying.
Samantha Brick, live up to your name. Bring bricks. See you on the barricades.
12 thoughts on “Samantha Brick, attractiveness and missing the point entirely”
“everything could quite nicely be solved by everyone chucking their keys in a bowl and having a nice orgy over a selection of hummus dips”
ICK ICK ICK
i’m not coming to your hummus party and neither is my wife
Whilst I agree that a lot of the responses to Brick’s article have been just nasty comments on her physical appearance, the problem is that when you write an article all about how damned attractive you are, the response “no, you’re not attractive” actually becomes a valid counter-argument.
Only if you’re 4.
Purely in terms of logic, the supposed fact of Ms Brick’s attractiveness is critical to her argument. The entire position of the article relies on an initial supposition that she is undeniably attractive. It may not be very clever, but when the key point of your article is ‘assume x = true’, the counter claim x = false is technically valid. Being a subjective opinion, the statement “She is attractive” is no more or less valid than “She isn’t attractive” and therefore you can’t claim that making that statement is anything other than a response operating at the level of the initial argument.
As always, to check the legitimacy of a concept, you can play the substitution game. If this article was written about any other subjective personal quality – her sultry singing voice, her mad snowboarding skills, her infallible culinary sense – you’d be perfectly within the rules of discourse to respond with “You’re not a good singer/chef/snowboarder.” It might not be the height of debating prowess, but nobody would tell you that your comment was out of line or unfairly resorting to ad hominem.
I think at least part of the problem arises due to the fact that Ms Brick seemed willing to put down EVERY slight to pure jealousy. I certainly believe that some peoples’ actions (male, female or neither) can be attributed to jealousy, but could every friend be that petty? Every colleague? Or is the unpalatable truth that she might also be acting in some way that makes the women in her life distrust her? She’s admitted in the past she has used her looks and flirting to get ahead at work. I’m not blaming her, it’s her life and the kyriarchy is what it is, many women go along with it, but you might see why female colleagues might be irked if she gets ahead based on looks, or if they fear she will: the kyriarchy loves to divide and conquer , and points out that her looks really DO open doors for her, something others might see her as smug for. Attractiveness opens doors for you, whether you try to use it or not, but if someone is resenting you, is it purely because you are beautiful, or could it be because they see you as a sell-out for using it to get ahead? And can you blame them for disliking this advantage? And what are we going to do about the beauty standards that pit women against each other?
And for all her protestations about her modesty, her past writing on how her husband would leave her if she got fat and how she believes women should applaud her for trying to conform to some narrow stereotype of attractiveness point out that (like many women) she does put a lot of time and effort into how she looks. Yet again she didn’t explore how she buys into this system of pitting women against each other, or how she responds to perceived jealousy from her peers (apart from saying nyah nyah I’m prettier than you anyway!) and if that actually HAS affected how she acts with women or men. I find it interesting that in my experience women who claim to have this problem (or just say they don’t get on with women in general) tend to be, if not outright flirtatious in commanding the male gaze, very competitive with other women or dismissive of them. And never realise that what other women object to is only partly their looks or flirtation, and at least partly their obnoxiously attention-seeking and competitive personality and self-centredness. If everybody appears to dislike you, you have to face the fact you might be rubbing them up wrong, and try to dissect what forces might be at play, and if you are contributing to it to get your own back for past slights. That doesn’t diminish the kyriarchy argument, but rather we can’t ignore that some people just aren’t particularly pleasant, and someone might be irritating for reasons other than sexism. But I’d like to point out that these are in no way female attributes, unfortunately men are expected to be these things, and seen as weak if they’re not.
In short, even looking at this as a feminist issue, it’s far more complicated than ‘women love to bitch about attractive women (true, sometimes – but why?), such as why we pit women against each other’, why we reward and punish women who act flirtatiously, why some women crave attention to extents not expected of men, and why the first thing women think of other people’s actions is based on how that person must have perceived their looks.
Besides, TBH I suspect a lot of people would think any article proclaiming ‘people hate me because I’m so amazingly successful/attractive/rich/etc’ was irritating. Not always necessarily because of jealousy, but because smugness and resenting other people for percieved jealousy is a trait most people don’t like. The problem is, she’s interpreted all the responses (admittedly a lot of them are petty and cruel) as proof that everyone really hates her because she’s beautiful. And not that she is in some ways perpetuating the cycle, and may well be enacting behaviour that makes other women feel insecure about her intentions.
There, one can criticise her without giving an opinion on her looks.
This is a well-balanced view of the whole Brick debaccle (‘de-Brickle’?!)…and it made me giggle. Excellent!
One of my friend is very beautiful as approved of by this society, but she is a lovely person with a great personality and therefore is liked by everyone. So just the fact of being beautiful does not necessarily attract resentment from other women, which is a point made by a poster above. Therefore, I have to agree that Brick is perpetuating the resentment in some way that has to do with who she is, probably in terms of seeing every other woman as competition, which is extremely irritating and, to be honest, boring.
Like Steff, I have a few friends who are very pretty and very beautiful by most peoples’ standards, and they seem to get along with everyone. Women acknowledge their beauty and the men, well, the women aren’t single so I can’t really say how the men would react in a different situation. However, it’s just NOT true that good-looking women arouse hate in other women. What pisses other women off is this attitude – that looks are everything and I’m so pretty and my looks are going to get me a lot further in life, and poor, plain you, yada yada.
Most women are shallow in that we do what the magazines tell us to do (try to get skinny, wear the right foundation, follow fashion etc) but it actually isn’t the number one priority for most of us, and when someone like Brick starts judging herself and others’ reactions to her, on this premiss, well, yes, some women might get a little irritated.
I appreciate your view on the Samantha Brick story. I also had a few ideas on my blog post on why this is such a hot topic aloha
Maybe it’s just because I read “My Husband Fat-Shames The Shit Out Of Me” first, but what struck me most forcibly was the way she talked about the punitive diet and exercise regime that she considered essential to preserving her looks. I got the feeling that she’s invested so much effort in her appearance that she can’t bear the thought that maybe learning how to be a better friend would have been more worthwhile, and the whole thing reads like a very painful flailing of denial.