Mirror, mirror on the wall

We have finally found an answer to the eternal question “Who is the fairest of them all?” Is it the stunning Angelina Jolie? The perfect Beyoncé Knowles? The sex symbol Megan Fox? No, apparently not, as the most beautiful woman in the world is in fact 41-year-old Daily Mail writer Samantha Brick, according to … well … 41-year-old Daily Mail writer Samantha Brick.

The now infamous Why women hate me for being beautiful article appeared in the Mail on 2 April and quickly became one of the most read pieces in the history of the paper’s website. It also prompted over 5,000 comments, and let me tell you, people are angry.

Brick’s article reveals various personal anecdotes about being left out of social events, ignored by friends and being approached by men bearing gifts. And why does all this keep happening? Because of her stunning beauty. Unsurprisingly, Brick said in one of her numerous follow up articles and television appearances that she has been inundated with hate mail but of course, she argues that the women who write to her are just jealous of her looks.

People on Twitter reached a special level of anger, the kind usually reserved for people who put cats in wheelie bins and date members of One Direction. Sure, she comes across as self-absorbed and ignorant, but that’s what most Daily Mail journalists have built their careers on. Directing such personal abuse at another human being in any other circumstances would be totally unacceptable. Somehow though we have arrived at the conclusion that because this woman has an undeniably inflated image of herself and goes about her daily life thinking about how incredibly beautiful she is (whether or not this is actually the case) that she must be brought down at all costs until she hates herself as much as the people tweeting her do. Even famous faces felt the need to join in, with DJ Lauren Laverne posting about the article for days on end, calling it “stupid” and comedian Frankie Boyle predictably tweeting something too rude to publish.

Even the Daily Mail couldn’t have imagined just how big the outcry would be, or could they? There are two separate issues here, and it’s important to keep them apart. Firstly, this kind of tabloid trash is written purely to bolster reader numbers. It’s barely even a story. Take away the hyperbole and at the core what’s left is “housewife thinks she’s pretty”. Hardly world changing stuff. The fact of the matter is that viral is the buzzword of the day. Everything gets its 15 minutes and whilst this kind of article doesn’t actually report anything, it sells papers.

The other issue is the piece itself. Why do we hate this woman so much? Do we hate her because we are jealous? Do we hate her for her arrogance? Or do we just hate her because she’s another Daily Mail journalist spouting nonsense? I know which camp I fall into. Her piece opens up a number of areas for debate, including our very notion of beauty. It is undeniable that we are constantly bombarded with images of beautiful women (whether they are au-natural or edited to such an extent that their own mothers wouldn’t recognise them). Has this given us such a narrow perception of attractiveness that we refuse to believe that any woman who doesn’t meet it can honestly believe she is good looking? Or are we self-deprecating Brits just programmed to hate people who feel good about themselves?

Take a closer look at the woman in question. She’s tall, slim, blond and is looking quite good for her age. Does the fact that she isn’t a Victoria’s Secret model mean she can’t consider herself attractive? And if Miranda Kerr or Rosie Huntington-Whiteley had written the article, would it have garnered the same response? I might not have the answer to all of these questions, but I am sure that Samantha Bricks has one hell of a career ahead of her with the Daily Mail and that the furore surrounding this article won’t be dying down any time soon.


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May 2022
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