In the unlikely event that you need me to refresh your memory, Samantha Brick is a journalist who has become a global internet sensation thanks to the intensely irritating - and unintentionally hilarious - article that she wrote for the Daily Mail, explaining that women hate her because she's so beautiful.
Photo: Grant TriplowShe wrote: "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 reason other than my lovely looks." She goes on to explain that other women worry she'll steal their husbands, jealous female bosses have passed her over for promotion and she's never been asked to be a bridesmaid - presumably because she would outshine the bride on her big day.
And her name was mentioned so many times on Twitter that #samanthabrickfacts became a trending topic. Predictably, most of the comments focus on Samantha's appearance. For while she is, as she says, tall, slim and blonde, it's surely no accident that the Daily Mail chose to use their least flattering photograph as the main image - presumably to encourage readers to be as critical as possible about her appearance. Samantha, on the other hand, isn't coping so well with the attention. In a follow-up piece she says that the 24 hours after the piece was published were "among the most horrendous of my life". She explains that she's already received more than 1,000 abusive emails. The criticism, she says, is "soul destroying". Some might say that Samantha had it coming. After all, us Brits don't respond well to the kind of unshakeable self-confidence that Samantha exhibits. But the saddest thing about the whole saga isn't just the fact that readers - along with other journalists and celebrities - have been so quick to bitch about Samantha's beauty, or lack thereof. What's tragic is the fact that Samantha was so willing to put the focus on her appearance in the first place. A cursory look at her website reveals that Samantha is an experienced journalist who has written for a range of women's magazines and newspapers. She's also written a novel and is an award-winning television producer, with more than 20 years experience in the industry. She points out in the article that she's happily married to her French husband, Pascal. Clearly Samantha has got a lot going for her so surely, by the age of 41, with a great career and happy home life, she should have more interesting things to think about, let alone write about. Instead, Samantha took it upon herself to tackle a "taboo that needed shattering", on behalf of fellow misunderstood beauties, Angelina Jolie and Victoria Beckham. She reckons that the reaction to her piece proves her point that "no one in this world is more reviled than a pretty woman".
The original article has now been read more than 1.5 million times and attracted more than 5,000 reader comments - many of them rather vicious.
Photo: Alistair HeapBut her argument crumbles when she admits that she's now upset because critics think she's ugly. Poor old Samantha now finds herself stuck between a rock and a hard place: her beauty has made her miserable, but the knowledge that some don't find her attractive has left her in floods of tears. Which suggests that it's self-obsession, not self-confidence, that got her into this mess in the first place. Unlike the "hostile" older women who have made her life so miserable, Samantha explains that she is looking forward to ageing as she "can't wait for the wrinkles and grey hair that will help me blend into the background". But when the years finally start to take their toll, I'd put money on Samantha being first in the queue at the cosmetic surgeon's office, looking for an effective way to turn back the clock. She already admits that she works hard to maintain her appearance: she doesn't drink, smoke, or eat chocolate and she works out even when she doesn't feel like it. So despite her intention to prove that she's more than just a pretty face, Samantha's piece has simply reinforced just how much looks matter - to her as much as anyone else. It doesn't matter whether you're drop-dead gorgeous, downright ugly or somewhere in between, Samantha Brick has proved to us that women really can't win. And no amount of free drinks, free rides or beautiful bouquets of flowers can take the sting out of that.
By Ceri Roberts
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