Maybe you caught wind of this piece in the Daily Mail that went viral this week.
Samantha Brick, a perky-looking blonde Brit living in France, had the audacity to say, look, I’m pretty. And that’s not always a great thing.
For every instance of a man falling madly in love with Ms. Brick at first sight, there is apparently a woman who hates her with the intensity of a thousand fiery suns because she is just so beautiful. The backlash to her post was pretty stunning, garnering thousands of comments, most of which are so vitriolic that I can’t stand to read them.
Don’t hate her because she’s beautiful.
Why are so many people so angry? Is it the fact that she wrote an entire piece on how beautiful she is, and it comes across as the worst type of egotism? Is it because she suggested that maybe other women hate her and treat her differently because of her looks, and those women resent the assessment that they are jealous? Or does everyone just think she’s a detestable human being with an over-inflated sense of self and a faulty mirror?
Because, let’s face it, there are some women who are very threatened by other women, particularly other attractive women. I’ve known several such jealous types, and I’m willing to bet you have, too. So for Samantha Brick to claim that maybe women hate her because of her looks is not entirely out of the realm of possibility, no matter how attractive I think she might be based on two-dimensional pictures.
That last part is key. Much of the vitriol has focused on whether or not Samantha Brick is actually pretty. My unedited reaction was similar. Her looks are average, at best, I thought. Really, I cannot imagine men sending her free bottles of champagne from across crowded restaurants, or complete strangers offering to pay her train fare.
And then I had to stop and examine my own bitchy thoughts about Samantha Brick. Maybe, in person, she has a certain quality that makes men turn to putty and women turn green with envy. I don’t know.
I once knew a woman who was not conventionally “pretty” but had multiple admirers nonetheless. There was an intangible something about her that made her totally irresistible to men, and yes, she did not have many female friends because of this.
For all I know, she is an engaging, magnetic woman whose sparkling personality is only augmented by her face. But does it matter -- like, at all -- how pretty or not pretty I think she is? And why do I care? Why do those Daily Mail commenters care?
I mean, really, what’s wrong with a woman saying I’m hot shit and I know it? Shouldn’t we applaud such confidence, even if some of us think she is totally deluded? (And why would we think she’s deluded, anyway? Who gets to say who’s pretty and who isn’t?)
Ms. Brick, in her rebuttal to the backlash, brings up something to think about regarding the double standard imposed on men and women with regard to self-confidence and acknowledgement of attractiveness.
She states, “If Brad Pitt were to say: 'Yes, I'm a good-looking fella,' then the world would nod sagely in agreement. But if Angelina Jolie uttered something along those lines, she'd be subject to the same foaming-at-the-mouth onslaught hurled at me yesterday.”
While I don’t totally agree with this (I think most of us detest cocky men as much as we do cocky women), there is a tendency in our culture to applaud modesty and revile unabashed confidence, especially in women. It’s a well-known tenet that men who speak their minds are considered powerful and assertive, and women who speak their minds are just bitches.
So is Samantha Brick a “bitch”? That I don’t know. Maybe she is, really and truly, and maybe that’s the real reason she’s lost so many friends. Or maybe she is just a mirror for our own ugliness and contempt for those who dare to state the things they believe to be true.