"There are downsides to being pretty -- the main one being that other women hate me for no other reason than my lovely looks."
Samantha Brick wrote these words in the Daily Mail Monday and provoked a barrage of criticism the likes of which we haven't seen since American mom Dara-Lynn Weiss defended her decision to put her child on a diet in the current issue of Vogue.
Brick, who describes herself as "no Elle Macpherson," but "tall, slim, blonde," wrote that she is constantly bombarded by positive male attention -- she recently received a bottle of champagne from a flight captain, and it wasn't the first time. And because she has the sort of looks that provoke such acts of devotion, she contends, other women resent her. In fact, she makes it sound like women in general are fundamentally jealous creatures out to undermine any woman more attractive than themselves:
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.
This claim, combined with Brick's sanctimonious tone, were reason enough for many readers to react negatively to the piece. It's pretty much impossible to pen this kind of thing (or the follow-up from Brick published Tuesday) without opening yourself up to ridicule -- which the Daily Mail's editors almost surely realized when they published this inevitable traffic-driver. (See the Mail's in-depth analysis of the story's success, including a chart tracking the number of Twitter searches for Brick's name in the last 24 hours.)
Unfortunately, people have criticized Brick's looks more than her ideas, which are off-putting regardless of how beautiful she "really" is. Jezebel's Lindy West summed up the situation with the statement that Brick's piece:
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... of her body, and encourages both sexes to eviscerate, body-shame and judge Brick with impunity because her ideas are so repellant.
The claim that being beautiful is just soooo hard is especially difficult for people to swallow because beauty can give women very distinct advantages -- especially when it comes to their careers. According to an infographic that recently made the Internet rounds, research shows that attractive workers earn 10 to 15 percent more than their "unattractive" counterparts, and in a culture where thinness is often equated with beauty, women who weigh 70 pounds below average tend to earn over $20,000 more than women who are average weight.
But that is not the issue here. The issue isn't that it's not that hard to be pretty, or that very few people are going to empathize if you claim that it is, or that it's a good idea to think twice before lamenting your own gorgeousness in a major newspaper. The issue, which Brick doesn't seem to realize, is that being valued -- or devalued -- for your looks alone isn't good for any women of any shape, size or level of conventional attractiveness. By running this piece, Brick and her editor(s) only underscored that point. The point is also that most women aren't out to undermine other women, and we need to stop perpetuating the idea that they are. In fact, they're perfectly capable of supporting and encouraging other females of the species -- even those who get the occasional bottle of complimentary champagne.
We've rounded up the best quotes about the "curse" of beauty. Have any to add to our list?
LOOK: Quotes About Beauty
"Don't hate me 'cause I'm beautiful" -- 1980s Pantene commercial; more recently Keri Hilson's Pretty Girl Rock
"Too pretty is also your doom / Cause everyone harbors a secret hatred / For the prettiest girl in the room -- Ani Difranco, "32 Flavors"
Pretty girl, pretty girl / Do you hate her / Cause she's pieces of you -- Jewel, "Pieces of You"
"Beauty can be a hindrance, especially if that's the only thing that matters to other people." -- Natalie Portman
"The bitches in high school were bitches because I was pretty." -- January Jones
Follow Emma Gray on Twitter: www.twitter.com/emmaladyrose