A regular reader suggested I write about this so I thought I would give it a shot.  Samantha Brick, a columnist for The Daily Mail a newspaper in the UK created a bit of an internet firestorm with her article

The Downsides to Looking Pretty

I have a lot of mixed feelings on this very topic.  For starters I know that women can sometimes be cruel to other women for no other reason than another woman is younger and more attractive.  This does happen, and I experienced it when I was a much younger woman.  Disney movies come to mind with the perfect and beautiful princess and the older less attractive jealous queen or witch hellbent on destroying her younger rival.  The Disney films and many other pop culture references get their inspiration in part to the many of the classic Grimm fairy tales where this plot line is a common one.  However I don’t think it is as big as a problem as Samantha Brick espouses and I really don’t buy much of her story.

Too much of anything will invite envy, if someone is too smart, too rich, too physically fit, too confident, too funny, too talented, too lucky…someone will resent them for it.  Jealous is unfortunately a part of human nature for all genders and all ages.  We can all remember situations from our childhood when we were on either side of that fence.  When I was a child I was hated by some my bright platinum blonde hair, while others loved me for it and would make a big deal out of my ice blonde locks.  When colored contacts became common I was suddenly constantly asked.

“Are your eyes real?”

Of course my eyes are naturally blue, so this question always confused me.  Accused of both dying my hair and wearing colored contacts by people who barely know me, or think they know me well I can feel her pain.  What I don’t agree with her on however are some of her wild claims.   I won’t break down all of her tales of free alcohol, flowers and gifts from total strangers as they may or may not be true.   They do sound a bit fantastical to a taller than average, slim blonde who gets no such perks.   Here is one statement she makes in her article that might be the reason she is getting so much hate mail.

But there are downsides to being pretty — the main one being that other women hate me for no other reason than my lovely looks.

Perhaps as this happened to me from my late teens to early twenties.  Most of my friends in college were male, but that was only for the first two years or so, once I got more confident with who I was a person I gained more female friends.  The men hung around me hoping I would eventually sleep with them or date them.  I didn’t get along with women as well due to my own insecurities and awkwardness, not any overwhelming beauty although I think my looks played some part.  In most instances when I encountered a negative attitude once I opened my mouth and started talking to these hostile women it went away, not in every case of course but in most cases.    When the woman saw that I didn’t take myself very seriously and that I wasn’t obsessed with my appearance their impression changed instantly.

I’m not smug and I’m no flirt, yet over the years I’ve been dropped by countless friends who felt threatened if I was merely in the presence of their other halves. If their partners dared to actually talk to me, a sudden chill would descend on the room.

Personally I think she is projecting a bit.  If she is sitting there obsessing that this is happening, then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  But I have never met Ms. Brick and I have no idea what her personality is like, she may be quite lovely or she could just be so self-obsessed that women just find her annoying.   We don’t know but we start to get an idea from the rest of the article.

And most poignantly of all, not one girlfriend has ever asked me to be her bridesmaid.

I have been a bridesmaid once…only once but I don’t think it has much to do with my looks as most of my friends didn’t have huge weddings.  And I can’t imagine any bride thinks to themselves…wait that blonde woman will upstage me…it is nearly impossible to upstage a bride.  The bride is in a huge white dress that probably cost a fortune and the whole entire day is about her.  At my own wedding my extremely attractive tall and curvaceous sister was my maid of honor and two of my bridesmaids were my college aged, and drop dead gorgeous petite cousins…all of which were blonde.  Their appearance had absolutely nothing to do with their selection, the fact that they were all related to me and near to my heart had much more to do with the process.

You’d think we women would applaud each other for taking pride in our appearances.

I work at mine — I don’t drink or smoke, I work out, even when I don’t feel like it, and very rarely succumb to chocolate. Unfortunately women find nothing more annoying than someone else being the most attractive girl in a room.

Now we really see some of the self-absorption.  By making this statement about working out, eating well,  she is implying other women don’t.  And that is simply crazy.  As we all know women who never work out and are blessed with perfect figures anyway, just as we know women who work incredibly hard with diet and exercise and still struggle.  And the rarely succumb to chocolate line is a bit much…so any overweight woman is just a lazy pig who shovels chocolate down their throat all day?  Or perhaps she might have a few children that have affected her body type or made it difficult to maintain the daily work out routines.  Maybe some women might have a genetic predisposition to being slightly larger and are perfectly healthy at that weight.  Body type has more to do with genetics than any workout routine or diet regime on earth and avoiding chocolate might help but it won’t turn a curvy shorter gal into tall slender one.  When she makes this comment it just reeks of arrogance.

Take last week, out walking the dogs a neighbour passed by in her car. I waved — she blatantly blanked me.

Again even more self-absorption.  Why is everything about her?  People blank other people all the time, most people are lost in their own thoughts thinking about their own problems not obsessed with their neighbors overwhelming beauty.

I approached a mutual friend and discreetly enquired if I’d made a faux pas. It seems the only crime I’ve committed is not leaving the house with a bag over my head.She doesn’t like me, I discovered, because she views me as a threat. The friend pointed out she is shorter, heavier and older than me.

This just flat out didn’t ring true to me.  I can’t imagine that someone would say to another person.  Especially the specifics, shorter, heavier and older.  I know this might be shocking but not every man prefers someone taller, thinner and younger.  Especially in the height department.  As someone who is slightly above average in height I have found it has caused me more problems dating than being petite would, as some men don’t like dating women who are taller than them, or close to their height.  Put me in a pair of heels and well…it can get tricky.  Some men don’t prefer skinny or thin women either and the age thing varies from man to man as well.  Models are tall in part because they are walking clothes hangers.  Sounds harsh but in the fashion industry, the emphasis is on the clothing, not the models.   And a thin woman with few curves actually draws more attention to the clothing and less to herself.  So taller, thinner, younger is not always more desirable, just ask any man.
And women don’t want to hang out with someone more attractive than they are.

I would have to disagree strongly with this comment as a person who works in the burlesque scene in New York city all of my female friends are dressed to the nines nearly every time they leave their apartments.  Form-fitting vintage dresses, false eyelashes, makeup, hair, heels, fishnets, even glitter and they are all gorgeous.  No one gets excluded because they are “Too pretty” it is just unfathomable.  I am sure it happens, but I don’t see a lot of examples of it in my circle of friends, none actually.  I have seen women who are self-obsessed, bitchy or mean, get excluded though so again…she very well might get shut out of things, but it may have nothing to do with her beauty.  Since none of us know Ms. Brick personally we can’t really surmise, but I am finding some of her claims to a bit silly and her stories to a bit fabricated.

What I really found depressing about this article was that I think women trashing other women based on their appearance is a real problem, however I don’t think Ms. Brick makes a very good case of it.  She comes across as so arrogant and full of herself that she is just an awful spokesperson for this dilemma.  And I know nearly every critic has said this about her, but I would have to agree, she is moderately attractive and no stunning beauty.  And I say that not to knock her down a peg but because I know so many absolutely drop dead gorgeous women and most of them don’t seem to have this problem. Most attractive people both men and women usually have an easier time in life, not a more difficult one.  Here is an example of just one study that finds that attractive people have an easier time finding a job and another study that claims they earn more at their jobs.  If anything what is more destructive are articles like Ms. Brick’s just pit women against each other.  Do we really need more of the Disney stereotyping shoved down our throats?  And are jealous women really the main problem to women in the workforce or in our society? For instance to argue that female jealousy is the cause of the current birth control and abortion right debate would be lunacy.   I would argue most of the negative assumptions, prejudices and stereotypes towards women have to do with a boy’s club mentality, the constant sexual objectification of women and deeply engrained cultural traditions.  It would be nice to instead focus on strong women who are changing the world and are not obsessed with their hair, make up or avoiding chocolate.  Our current Secretary of State comes to mind as do many other powerful women.
And here is a photo of yours truly compare it to the one of Ms. Brick, we are close in age and in appearance yet I don’t get free perks of booze and train tickets wherever I go nor do I seem to have these same problems….which is the main reason I wrote this article.  Surely the lady does protest too much.
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13 comments on “Samantha Brick – Too Beautiful? Too Delusional?

  1. noonebutabloghead

    That’s probably the nicest, step by step rebuttal, I’ve came across on the subject.

    Out of curiosity, has this been a big story over in the States?

    1. julietjeske

      She is mainly getting press on the internet from what I can tell. I don’t think she is on mainstream news outlets, but then I don’t have a television so…how would I know. Ha!!!! I didn’t want to get nasty towards her because that is just more fuel for her ridiculous argument. And it is reinforcing women being mean to other women. I think I am better looking though, and I don’t get much grief or free stuff! HA!!!! I am thinner too, so maybe if I had more curves…HA!!! I am just kidding of course.

      1. noonebutabloghead

        The stats that I’ve seen say they’ve had 1 million hits, and over 5,000 comments, so I suppose just about everyone on the internet will be vaguely aware of the story by now…

        I think the fault’s really with the editors rather than her – they should have pointed out the kind of things you say above before it made it’s way into print and make her look dumber than she probably is.

        I was actually thinking of saying that you seem a better looking woman based on your headshot, so if guys give out gifts based purely on looks you’d probably know about it!
        Curves wouldn’t help you though – all of us men like tall and thin women, remember? 😉

          1. noonebutabloghead

            Yep, definitely. I’d **** an actual clothes hanger if I could.

  2. PoppyT

    You’ve pretty much expressed everything I thought while reading her article. I actually went one further though in wondering whether she may have a diagnosable case of narcissistic personality disorder. I don’t like the idea of pop psychology diagnosing on the basis of a couple of published words but really how can she be so unaware of how what she’s written will read to the rest of the world (why would you do that to yourself unless you are delusional). How can she be so unaware of how her supreme awareness of how she looks gets really tiring for most people. Then there’s the factor of friends dropping away, I think it takes a while for narcissism to be recognized and overtake a new friendship but I think most people will eventually get tired of it and back off. For Samantha Brick it really feels like the editor is in the wrong. She seems to have a problem that she has no insight into and the editor has made use of this to boost their hit rate. I hope this episode does serve to get her to a psychologist, even if I’m wrong and she’s not that unaware.
    I thought this was an April fools article at first.

    1. julietjeske

      I would completely agree with you, The Daily Mail is apparently known for running really misogynistic stories, so in the UK the fact that this story was in The Daily Mail comes as no surprise. As far as NPD is concerned I think she is a likely candidate. As from her own words she seems to think the world revolves around her. The comment about the neighbor was especially telling. So her neighbor kind of ignored her and she makes this huge leap that it has to do with her beauty and even inquires from a mutual friend? How about who cares? It is really hardly a big deal and if it happened to me I wouldn’t think to ask a third party.

      A few of my detractors have labeled me as Narcissistic which I find kind of funny I have a blog, a website and a youtube channel that are all simply my name. As I am a performer and writer, it is an easy shot to take at me. In order to do what I do I have to have some sense of self…so…The person who was the worst about that particular insult was an alcoholic in denial so I take it with a grain of salt.

      A true narcissist always blames others and never admits fault, and I screw up all the time and openly admit it, so I don’t think the label really applies to me. Whereas I don’t hear any true self-awareness in Ms. Brick’s article or in the interviews I have seen. She definitely paints a fairly black and white image of all women hating her due to her beauty and doesn’t accept any responsibility for her actions that might be bringing on the negativity.

      She also wrote an article for The Daily Mail where she encourages women to flirt to get ahead in the business world, horrible advice in my opinion as it is hard enough to be taken seriously by some men. And does she not think that her flirtatious nature, that one that she encourages might bring some of this on? She basically values her physical appearance and sex appeal above all else, at it will fade and then what will she be left with? I can honestly say I don’t think any wife has ever been threatened by me when I am around their husband…not one. My energy isn’t exactly flirtatious and I think my looks are on par with Ms. Brick’s. So I don’t get it, just flat out don’t get it.

      And you have to let me know the next time you are in the States! I owe you cookies!!!!!!!!!!!

      1. PoppyT

        A performer may be seen as narcissistic but really I think to be a great artist you need to be able to take on and work with constructive criticism. I don’t think you should take to heart anyone who calls you narcissistic, actually, the only comparison you should make between yourself and Samantha Brick is the colour of your hair really. Your opinion on her article is interesting because you spend a lot of time writing about and thinking around stuff that makes your opinion on her article worth reading, not because anyone wants to actually compare you to her I hope (well, except that as someone who isn’t blond or particularly beautiful I’m interested in just how much champagne and free train tickets the other half of womankind might be getting and you are good person to ask about that since you fit the description of how she seems to appear to herself when she looks in the mirror).
        I’m not organised enough to have emailed anyone yet but I’m coming to NYC in May for a conference 🙂 I’d gladly take you up on a cookie or two and catch up. Best Cookies Ever. I’ll log into my email over the weekend and have my server get in touch with your server.

        1. julietjeske

          Girl you are drop dead attractive! Both you and your husband are adorable, a perfectly matched couple in fact! So I would think you would also be getting free champagne and train tickets! HA! 🙂 But yes as a woman who loosely fits her description I can honestly say this doesn’t happen. I have had a few sweet incidents, once my hat blew off my head in the middle of a street and a man stopped his car, picked it up and gave it to me. And I have had doors opened and that sort of thing, but nothing like what she is describing. The bartenders not letting her pay for a tab bit was just ridiculous! Unless the bartender is your brother or close friend, that just doesn’t happen.

  3. Ben

    Great rebuttal– when everyone else seems to have the problem… maybe you’re wrong 😉

    1. julietjeske

      Yeah ever since my “writing” career took off and I put that in quotes since I haven’t really made any money as a writer yet, but ever since I got the attention and press I got attacked by about three people in my life two of which I knew well, but both were fairly damaged and the other I barely knew at all, as it was someone I went to high school with…they all labeled me narcissistic. And of course I have some tendencies as again, I wouldn’t be able to put my opinion out there if I didn’t have a strong sense of self…but to call me NPD is a bit of a stretch. Even on this very blog I am constantly admitting fault in my posts…so whatever with that one. I am convinced when people attack others and label them 90% of the time they are just projecting their own insecurities or faults on to another person, especially when the person they are attacking didn’t provoke them in the first place.

      1. Ben

        Yeah, I mean yes, a little bit of jealously is natural in human beings, but when I see people that get so resentful of other people that it consumes them, warps them… it just freaks me out. Like, I wonder what they could accomplish if they turned that energy into helping themselves or others, instead of trying to tear people down. I’m sorry that you had to deal with those three people’s attacks, but kudos to you for pushing past that.

        The author of that article reminds me of some other people who’ve written stuff that stirred up a shitstorm, and they get all perplexed by it… it’s like they live in this bubble of their own creation, floating along, wondering why everyone else is so dumb/ugly/stupid and then they make the mistake of putting their thoughts up on the internet for everyone to see– and they get justifiably pounced on. I mean, some might groove on the attention, but I bet most are just totally perplexed!

        Reminds me of this post last summer… she put up this totally nasty assault on a guy she went on a date with, and then was so taken aback when she got blasted for it. Re-reading this, I see where she’s gone back and edited it a little bit, it was originally much more scathing…


  4. Oriana

    Are you kidding, you are much more attractive than she is. You are pretty, and she is plain, you have a nice, warm smile, and she has a mean face. You come across as a nice, charming person, she looks nasty and bitchy. There’s no comparison whatsoever

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