If you haven't heard (in which case you are either Helen Keller or dead), some woman named Samantha Brick wrote a million-word humble-brag in the Daily Mail about how terrifically difficult it is to go through life as a magnificent beauty. It's that same old trope you hear supermodels trot out on every late-night talk show when they're trying to sound down-to-earth—My life isn't perfect even though my body is! I can't help it that other women were born disgusting! Also I love video games! Relate to me!!!
Brick even followed that up with the second oldest trick in the please-like-me-even-though-I'm-better-than-you handbook—telling Huffington Post that she used to be a big fat ugly-duckling tomboy who got teased every day because she was basically a human pimple in a softball uniform who never stopped eating submarine sandwiches. That is, until one morning when she woke up and discovered that she was literally Cindy Crawford. And life became a new kind of hell. Yawn x infinity.
But while it's nothing we haven't heard before, Brick's Daily Mail article is stunningly annoying and embarrassingly delusional. Some examples:
If you're a woman reading this, I'd hazard that you've already formed your own opinion about me—and it won't be very flattering. For while many doors have been opened (literally) as a result of my looks, just as many have been metaphorically slammed in my face—and usually by my own sex.
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.
From there Brick relates approximately 4,000 anecdotes about different times when ugly lady-ogres were mean to her or supposedly "discriminated against" her because of her looks. She's been passed over for promotions by "jealous" bosses, she's never been asked to be a bridesmaid, and she can't keep female friends for more than five minutes because the power of her beautiful vagina will inevitably bewitch their husbands. (Meanwhile, she can't walk down the street without men showering her in jewels, or fly on a plane without receiving free champagne compliments of the captain's boner.) At no point in the article does Brick confront Occam's razor—the idea that people might not want to work with her or talk to her or be her friend because she's an annoying dumbass and a shitty person. Maybe? Just a thought. Or, sure. It's because you're pretty and no pretty woman has ever had a friend before.
Obnoxious, yes—on the "WAAAAAAAHHHHHH" scale, complaints like this one fall somewhere between misandry and reverse racism—but to be honest, my first reaction was pity. And not the kind of pity Brick is looking for. See, the whole thing is complicated by the seven photos of Brick and her face and her body and her hilarious French husband (hoh hoh hohhh!!!) accompanying the article. She's just...and I know I'm walking a delicate line here...not that cute. She is freakishly average. If you looked up "just some lady" in the dictionary, there'd be a picture of Samantha Brick. She's fine. She's normal. She's one of us.
So I can't help but feel like the Daily Mail is playing a trick on her.
The Daily Mail is a large-scale professional troll, and this article is troll-bait of the highest order—a master stroke of carefully orchestrated misogyny. It basically screams, "HERE, TROLLS! DON'T YOU HATE THIS AWFUL BITCH? LOOK, SHE THINKS SHE'S BETTER THAN YOU BUT SHE ISN'T EVEN PRETTY!" It begs women to go all mean-girl on her (every woman I spoke to succumbed to the temptation immediately), gives men a pass to comment on the relative value and fuckability of her body, and encourages both sexes to eviscerate, body-shame, and judge Brick with impunity because her ideas are so repellant. Like if she were prettier she would have earned the right to say such ridiculous shit.
Everyone's opinions are open to scrutiny—that's where progress comes from—but Brick's ideas (if she's even being sincere) are obnoxious independent of whether or not we think her physical appearance matches her self-perception. There is no magic attractiveness quotient that makes stupid ideas more or less acceptable. I'll criticize Samantha Brick because her ideas are offensive and divisive, thank you very much; taking her to task for her crow's feet is sexist, gross, and letting her off too easy.
It's also sad. The Daily Mail article and its backlash would be one thing if Brick was unassailable, but she's not. She elicits this feeling that's almost like a class tension—like she's punching above her weight, looking down on the rest of us normals with pretensions that she hasn't earned. For the Daily Mail to put such an obviously average woman (whose self-regard transcends confidence and becomes something close to paranoid delusion) on display like this, with crazy ideas like this, on a platform like this, feels uncomfortably close to bullying. And it makes Brick pitiable.
The trolling is working. People are going fucking nuts. The Telegraph has fustily declared the backlash to be "worse" than the original article—and even though that's obviously silly (the article is bullshit and deserves to be called out as such), I'm sure as hell not interested in piling on at this point. It feels too much like a set-up. By giving Samantha Brick miles of rope and an extremely public tree, the Daily Mail is trying to trollify us all. It's a little peek behind the curtain at how the media deliberately pits women against women for fun and profit. Fuck that. Ladies, let's stop biting.