In defence of Samantha Brick: The woman who is “hated for being beautiful”

Laura Davis

Untitled 11 300x294 In defence of Samantha Brick: The woman who is hated for being beautiful If you missed the article which has made Samantha Brick and the Daily Mail trending topics on Twitter today, the opening sets the scene well:

On a recent flight to New York, I was delighted when a stewardess came over and gave me a bottle of champagne.

‘This is from the captain — he wants to welcome you on board and hopes you have a great flight today,’ she explained.

You’re probably thinking ‘what a lovely surprise’. But while it was lovely, it wasn’t a surprise. At least, not for me.

Like a female counterpart to David Brent that Ricky Gervais would be proud of, it goes on to brag about how Samantha’s been very fortunate to have had gifts bestowed on her by adoring males, but has struggled with jealous women along the way as the result of having such “lovely looks”.

It’d be interesting to know if Samantha knew she was going to be set up in this way. Illustrated with overly posed pictures of herself, unsurprisingly opening the writer up to remarks about her appearance.

This argument is one that is discussed by women, but rarely written about. Why? Because, as Samantha Brick has found out, it’s an almost impossible argument to win.

Today I’ve had various conversations with both men and women, and of course the immediate reaction is to mock the journalist and paper, but ultimately it’s ended in a discussion as to whether they agree this is sometimes the case. And nearly everybody does.

A sprinkling of jealousy can indeed be healthy, as it can encourage competition and a good work ethic, but there are cases when I and others have seen attractive women excluded or judged harshly because of their appearance. Yes, I imagine being deemed “easy on the eye” can open doors, but that doesn’t mean a generally considered attractive person can’t point out when they’ve had negative reactions, because if they do everyone feels that, like Narcissus before them, the guilty should die a tragic death seduced by their own appearance.

At school I had a close friend who was overweight, but in sixth form developed an eating disorder that led to her losing a lot of weight. At about 5”10’ with long naturally blonde hair and a new size 8 figure, she looked stunning – but naturally nobody could quite see the damage she was doing to her body.

She’d never experienced attention from guys hitherto, and the adulation undoubtedly shot straight to her head, but she started getting very negative responses from girls in our year. I heard one threaten to throw a glass of red wine over her light pink dress at the end of school ball. The increasing bitchiness towards her clearly fuelled her desire to make girls even more jealous, flaunting her body and flirting with boys until she was ostracised from all but a handful of friends. But what came first, the chicken or the egg?

It happens in the work place too. Sometimes women (and indeed men, although generally examples of this are less discussed) find beauty a threat and can take a dislike to someone for no apparent reason. This might fuel an attitude that materialises in Samantha Brick’s article but bitchy behaviour can have an obvious impact.

Examples considered today have included not being able to get promotions from female bosses despite the hard work, a lack of invites or a feeling of uneasiness you can’t place your finger on.

Jealousy is a long-discussed emotion, appearing in Greek mythology in the cases of Hera and in Shakespeare’s “green-ey’d monster” in Othello.

A study by psychology professors for the American Psychological Association in 2010 showed that that jealousy can affect women’s ability to see clearly. During an experiment they were informed their partners were going to judge the attractiveness of other women, and it impeded their own reactions to spot visual targets on a computer screen. Steven Most and Jean-Philippe Laurenceau showed that “the influence of social emotions—known to affect moods, behaviors and physical health—appears to permeate so deeply as to affect processes involved in visual awareness.”

Psychiatrist Dr. Gail Saltz has also suggested that jealousy may also arise due to personal insecurities and poor self-esteem.

While Samantha Brick’s article reeks of narcissism, I would suggest that it has been cleverly edited this way, adorned with posed pictures purely to amplify her point. Although beauty is of course something found in the eye of the beholder (something very clear from the cruel tweets about the author, which Brendan O’Neill rightly criticises), not all of her points are unfounded.

Of course it’s easy to see the funny side – including more amusing articles such as Andrea Mann’s Who Said it First between Samantha Brick and Derek Zoolander, and the mock editorial by Vice – it seems (despite former articles) there is still a possibility that Brick has fallen into a trap she might not have seen coming.

For those who feel that discussing jealousy among women is merely undermining feminism, speak to the women around you.

Not all women are jealous of other women. But some are. And sometimes they project their jealous feelings in an ugly way.

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  • Herstory

    this whole episode correctly, the whole point was: Not all people are envious/jealous of other people. But some are and those are the ones that are downright nasty in how they project their feelings….who has not worked with schizos or encountered road rage for no apparent reason but we are not to believe its because were beautiful…its because the offenders have issues.  So we kind of knew this already, but how do we convince offenders to get the help they need to stop lashing out at others, rein in their hostility. The only way is to free themselves and others from objectification, to learn that each person exists in their own right as a creature worthy of love and dignity. Never take dignity or love away from others or your self, unselfishness is the true definition of inner beauty.  

  • taniajenka

    Self-praise is not recommended! Lets be honesty here people have all different ideas of beauty and I for one don’t find her at all pretty let alone beautiful, she is not ugly but just a plain average woman whom is overweight and getting on a bit in age! Jealous dream on and I myself an overweight middle age woman whom is nothing to write home about.

  • clair ward

    I am ashamed of how harsh women are being. I think more women need to be like Samantha and have such high thoughts of themselves. I know too many great women who constantly put themselves down. Samantha Brick is intelligent, well-travelled, and yes, I think she’s a beauty, maybe not in the traditional definition, but because of the example she has set for me. 

  • bbrazilian

    It’s interesting that people seem to be blaming women for the backlash. From my perspective, their seems to be an awful lot of men involved in the sledging as well! Samantha has admitted to lying about the extent of the attention she receives from men and the “recent” bottle of bubbly sent to her on a flight, actually happened many years ago. The amount of incidents in total now appears to be half a dozen. Your average woman has received more attention than that! If she had just come out and said it was a piss-take, I think we would all have breathed a sigh of relief, but the fact that a very average looking woman dared to talk down to other woman and down right lie has upset everyone.

    Beautiful women know they are beautiful. They don’t need to try and convince all and sundry that they are. They especially do not have to lie about it in a major newspaper.

  • Hollynor

    Not only is Ms. Brick correct about women often feeling threatened by women they perceive as more beautiful, intelligent, wealthy, successful, etc. than they are, but that is also true of men who feel threatened by women they perceive as more attractive than they are.  Males are frustrated when they they see attractive women whom they think wouldn’t give them the time of day, or they resent when beautiful women don’t give them the attention they think they deserve, even though their lack of attractiveness in appearance and/or personality renders them with little to offer.  It all has to do with how females are conditioned from an early age to compete for attention from men–and not with their skills, abilities, and personal qualities but with their physical attractiveness.  On some level, males realize that and are perturbed when women don’t give them the attention they think they deserve.  Not only that, but they also expect to be served by women, and women encourage this by waiting on men and doing chores for them without expecting any thanks or even acknowledgement, let alone expecting males to actually pitching in.  At a recent get together with friends, I helped serve meals.  All of the women present said, “Thank you” when I served them.  The only man who said “Thank you” happens to live alone and is not used to being served.  The other men seemed to think they were entitled to it.  Whether you consider the tone of Ms. Brick’s article arrogant or not, she has acknowledged an ugly aspect of British (and American) society and made an important point about it. Whether you consider Ms. Brick beautful or not is beside the point.  I just wish she had said more about how men are not always friendly to women they perceive as beautiful. 

  • Alziknow

    While it would most certainly be a travesty for women to
    dislike a woman just because of her looks, it may be a bigger travesty to
    assume that the reason people dislike you is because you’re pretty.  Um, maybe you’re just a bitch and ya don’t
    know it. I’ve seen some extremely beautiful bridesmaids, so I’m thinking it’s
    possible to be beautiful and still have girl friends.

  • Fraser Drummond

    as our leaders basically suck us all dry in an orgy of greed and corruption, an endless diet of trivial rubbish should keep us at each others throats

  • Zoe Parish

    ‘For those who feel that discussing jealousy among women is merely undermining feminism, speak to the women around you.’
    I am a woman, and the reason I think it undermines feminism is because it sets women against one another in a judgemental manner, in a way which doesn’t occur among men. Why is jealousy between women such a tantalising subject, yet jealousy between men is not? And why is this female jealousy promoted daily by the tabloids, etc.?

    Having said that, there are so many things about women that make me shake my head because I just don’t ‘get’ the games they play. Men play them too, but it’s mostly women. 

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