A (beautiful) friend of mine recently posted a link to this pitiful story by Samantha Brick on Facebook that made me simultaneously laugh out loud and want to throttle the writer. The title says it all, “Why Women Hate Me for Being Beautiful.” Here’s the gist:
While I’m no Elle Macpherson, I’m tall, slim, blonde and, so I’m often told, a good-looking woman. I know how lucky I am. But there are downsides to being pretty — the main one being that other women hate me for no other reason than my lovely looks.
This article presents you with an interesting conundrum as a reader, commenter, or critic. It’s clear that the writer will just assume you’re jealous if you dare to criticize her. In fact, that’s exactly what happened. There was a backlash and the writer’s response was basically, “This just proves I’m right.“
There are some serious problems with her logic — the most obvious being that she’s not particularly beautiful. She’s pleasant looking enough, but she kind of resembles Baby Spice. Charlize Theron is beautiful. Selma Hayek is beautiful. Adele is beautiful. This broad is…blonde… Some commenters weren’t as kind as I’m being.
I don’t know what would possess someone to write something so self-absorbed — or more importantly what would compel a news site to publish it (other than the page views that vitriol inspires). If she had an (asinine) theory, she could have done some actual research and written an actual piece of journalism instead of something that reads like a 17-year-old mean girl’s diary entry. She says this was a taboo that needed to be talked about. (I suppose she means the idea that women don’t like pretty women, as if that’s a theory that hasn’t been tossed around for decades. In fact this song addressed it far more eloquently.) But this article doesn’t read like the beginning of a discussion, it comes off like a backdoor insult to any woman who ever dared not to like the writer. It’s the journalistic equivalent of a backhanded compliment.
In her rebuttal to her critics, Brick (what a fitting name) wrote:
Of course, I knew when I came up with the idea that it would provoke debate. I’d even prefaced the idea by explaining to the editor that I was fully aware I was setting myself up for a fall. I knew this was sensitive territory at which women would take umbrage…
This falls into the “Duh” category. No one likes to be told, “You’re just jealous.” You might as well say, “Sorry I’m better than you.” But what really irks me about this is what she is saying about women as a whole. She is suggesting that we’re all so shallow and insecure that we lash out at anyone who is prettier than us. (I wonder if anyone has ever written a “Don’t hate me because I’m smart” article.)
And even worse, if you dare criticize her thinking she’ll just say, “Well, you’re obviously just jealous like all those other homely women.”
I have many friends that I would consider to be far more beautiful than Brick (and you can see them scattered about this page). They are also smart, kind, supportive, funny, and successful … and I adore them. Do I admire their best qualities? Yes. Am I jealous? No. And I certainly don’t hold it against them…because in addition to being all those other things I listed they are humble, likable people.
It’s also the complete lack of self-awareness that people are reacting to. No one is denying that there are jealous, petty, insecure women out there. But this author is either somehow a magnet for those kinds of people, or she’s kidding herself. Something about Brick reminds me of all the girls on The Bachelor, who just can’t understand why all the other women in the house loathe them. Well, in a house where everyone is tall, thin, and pretty it’s probably not about looks… but about attitude. As my Nana might say, “She thinks herself hot shit.” And no one likes that.
And while it might be easy to be distracted by the vitriol of internet trolls, it’s also clear that Brick is missing the point (or may not be entirely clear about the article she wrote). Here is more of her response:
Smart women I’ve previously admired appear to have relished putting the boot in. No debate, no discussion, let’s just attack this bit of skirt for daring to declare she thinks she’s not too bad when she looks in the mirror.
That is not what you said, Ms. Brick. You said you are so good-looking that the women around you act insane with jealousy… There’s a big difference.
She also says that if Brad Pitt says he’s a handsome man everyone would agree but if Angelina Jolie said the same about herself, people would jump down her throat. This is nonsense. Angelina Jolie was declared the “Sexiest Woman Alive.” No one is going to raise an eyebrow if she says, “Yes, I like what I see when I look in the mirror.” What they won’t like is if she walks around acting like she’s better than everyone else simply because she was blessed with good genes.
Ms. Brick, no one cares that you think you’re attractive. In fact, I applaud your confidence. Personally, I have had my fair share of free drinks, cat-calls, and general admirers. I imagine most women have experienced all of these things at some time or another. I also enjoy being around confident women who don’t play petty games or waste my time complaining about how “fat” they are, or how much they hate their hair. And as far as I know, no one has ever been worried that I might steal their boyfriend, and I keep all my bits and pieces covered at the office so as not to have awkward conversations with my boss. But there is a fine line between the confidence that other people are attracted to, and the arrogance that drives them away.
Jealousy — whether it’s about good looks, a promotion, or money — has long played a part in human relationships (not just female ones) but the “Twitterstorm” was not about Brick’s chosen topic, but about her approach. She could have interviewed other women who had experienced similar problems, but instead she wrote about how her own beauty drove away her friends. Not only does it come across as arrogant, but it’s naive to think you can put something like that out on the internet and not get comments like this one: