I’m not on Twitter. I don’t consider myself famous enough to have a ‘following’. But sometimes, being out of reach of the tweet means that you miss corking stories like the storm surrounding Samantha Brick‘s column in the Daily Mail. I only picked up on it today when I finally got around to reading a copy of The Week dated 14th April.
Earlier this month, she posted a blog on the Daily Mail website in which she described how men go out of their way to be extra-courteous to her because she is beautiful, whereas women hate her for it. She has been sent free drinks in restaurants and had various bills paid by men who are bowled over by her good looks, whereas women often accuse her of having designs on their partners and give her the cold shoulder in social and professional situations.
The response was muted until the article hit Twitter and became a big story and the source of many bad-taste and barely-funny jokes at Samantha’s expense. She ended up appearing on This Morning to defend herself, but didn’t particularly help matters by saying ’10 out of 10′ men fancied her – which presumably included Eamonn Holmes, one of the presenters.
I’ve read the original blog and am staggered that anyone gets that kind of reaction from men, it’s never happened to me or anyone I know. Samantha is a good-looking woman, but perhaps she gets such a response because she truly believes she is beautiful and revels in it, rather than actually conforming to some kind of aesthetic ideal. Those commenting on her blog are very keen to point out faults in her appearance, and call her deluded or arrogant. There is an untempered nastyness about many of the remarks, which comes all too easily in such discussion forums (and on Twitter), but makes me believe there may also be truth in what Samantha says about the way women treat her.
Bryony Gordon, in an excellent column in the Telegraph (it’s not often I say that), reflected on events with the following words: ‘Women – and men, more pertinently – do hate her, though not because she’s beautiful. They hate her because she has the temerity to believe she might be beautiful, even if she is, in the words of one online commentator, “not all that”. It would seem that in the world of confessional journalism, you can write about your divorces, your depression and your deepest insecurities without anyone batting a weary eyelid. But to admit you might quite like yourself is a confession too far.’
I am glad there is a woman out there who is comfortable in her own skin and likes what she sees when she looks in the mirror. The majority of women compare themselves to some ludicrous ideal created by already handsome women spending hours in hair and make-up, being photographed over and over again under the most flattering light, and the best results being airbrushed to remove any hint of ‘imperfection’…. and unsurprisingly, the majority of women feel ugly, to a greater or lesser degree. Self-loathing is normal, spending thousands on miracle face creams and magic knickers to correct our ‘flaws’ is normal, extreme diets are fashionable, aspiring to plastic surgery to ‘correct’ ourselves is commonplace. Anyone who dares to see themselves differently is an offence to the normal female state of mind; their self-image is a direct criticism of our own.
What a rudiculous position for womankind to have worked itself into!
Having brought two (rather large) babies into the world and gained – and, eventually, lost – three stones in weight in the process, I too have wrestled with my body image over the last few years. I have now returned to a healthy weight and am able to devote a little more time to making sure I rest enough, exercise and eat well – in short, I look after myself. I’m well-groomed and clean, but I don’t spend forever primping and preening as there are other things I’d rather do. I wear clothes I like, clothes that fit and that I feel comfortable in, clothes that are appropriate to where and when I’ll be wearing them.
When others look at me, I guess they see an average-sized woman – shame about the chunky thighs – with a big nose and wrinkles around her eyes and messy hair; they may even think me unkempt because I wear little make-up and seldom don glamorous clothes; they would quite probably be repulsed by the stretch-marks I exhibit by wearing a bikini on holiday (weather permitting). When I look in the mirror, I see someone who is pretty happy in her skin, who laughs and smiles a lot and has a face with creases reflecting that, whose wavy hair balances out the strong angles of her nose and jaw, who has a strong and trim body which comes in handy when chasing around after her family, and is actually quite proud to display those stretch-marks because if they weren’t there… well, her beautiful sons wouldn’t be there either.
You may now hate me. Good job I’m not on Twitter.