Samantha Brick was a relatively unknown occasional writer (dare I say columnist), until last week when she had the audacity to refer to herself as “beautiful” in an article written for the Daily Mail. Her confident self description combined with tales of men fawning over her and women bearing the evil eye, was accompanied by photographs of a mediocre looking British woman.
I don’t say this to mock the effect of her feminine wiles on men, but to draw attention to the Mail’s manipulation of Brick’s seemingly arrogant statement. The Mail’s tricksters, spinners and rankings whizz kids worked their magic and the article went viral. More than 1.5million people read the story, netting the Mail an estimated £100,000.
Brick was trounced on Twitter, derided online as vain and deluded and held up as un-British. Brick was hauled in front of morning television presenters and ridiculed online and in print. Everyone tried to get her to apologise or explain her un-British outburst. In a world where movie stars – many of whom are blessed with much finer features than Brick – are encouraged to find fault with their appearance or at least feign a physical aberration, Brick broke the rules. Her unshakable confidence angered readers and upset the way of things.
The article did make a cringe worthy read, but I can’t help feeling she was set-up for a fall. Publications like the Daily Mail profit from pitting women against each other. They constantly ridicule and shame women for being too fat, too skinny, too loud, for chatting to someone from the male species who isn’t their life partner. Whatever your thoughts, the uproar at the Brick piece is revealing. Brick doesn’t fit the culturally acceptable notion of beauty – whatever that may be – but that isn’t the reason for the backlash. It’s her unshakable confidence which unnerves people. Female self loathing is assumed, so when a woman dares to comment favourably on her looks there’s a public outcry. Admitting publicly that you’ve been put together well is like parping in front of the Queen; both are unforgivable social faux pas.