Beauty

Jodie Post authored by: Jodie Cole

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Samantha Brick-A real woman?

You will have had to have lived in a cave to escaped the media storm that surrounded Samantha Brick’s article in the Daily Mail, complete with her follow-up piece a few days later, and her appearance on This Morning after that. I am guessing there are not many people, male or female, who didn’t pass comment in one way or another.  I certainly did. I would like to question, and maybe answer, some of the issues that Samantha raised. For anyone living in the aforementioned cave; the original article is here.

Self-confidence makes the World go round

Samantha Brick claims that she is very attractive. So attractive in fact, that men can’t help but buy her things and women don’t like her. She also makes the sweeping statement that womankind, in general, do not like attractive women.

samantha-brick-1

I’m all for self-confidence. I think it’s great when people have a lot of self-confidence. I think it shows in the way they walk, the way they talk, and how they carry themselves. I enjoy spending time with self-confident people. I like to think that I am a self-confident person.

You don’t have to consider yourself attractive to have confidence. It can come from a genuine belief in what you do, being comfortable in your own skin, having a supportive family and friends, anything. So why does Samantha Brick feel the need to keep mentioning how attractive she is? Is she trying to convince herself, or other people? Or, perhaps, rather sadly; this is the only source of her self-confidence.

Be enough of a woman not to have to position yourself against other women

I think it’s great that Samantha Brick is prepared to hold her hands up and say ‘yes, I am attractive’. Why shouldn’t she think that? Good on her! What I don’t think is great, however, is that she uses this self-confidence to position herself against other women (“women think their husbands fancy me”, “women don’t like attractive women”). Does she genuinely believe that the sisterhood is rejecting her because of her looks? Where’s the girl power? It connotes an air of arrogance and superiority, which people (not just women) are not going to take kindly to.

“You’d think we women would applaud each other for taking pride in our appearances.” I think they generally do. It’s only when “taking pride” becomes vain and arrogant that it stirs up negative feeling toward our fellow female. Vanity, arrogance, self-importance, and other similar traits will provoke untoward thoughts no matter what you look like.

Her mistaking the uproar that followed as “proving her point” only added fuel to the outrage. Is she actually suggesting that all women are so insecure that they couldn’t possibly openly appreciate other women’s beauty? That they are insecure enough to think that their husband fancies every attractive woman he sees?

The Daily Mail knows exactly what they’re doing.

Selling newspapers is what the Daily Mail have been doing for over a hundred years. They are experts in the field; their articles are positioned and edited with military precision in order to generate maximal media response. There’s no such thing as bad publicity, right? The picture that accompanied the first article was not, (in my opinion) a flattering picture of Ms Brick. She is far better looking in real life (in my opinion). But this was all part of the Daily Mail’s publicity plan as it purely amplified the level of outrage and response.   Unfortunately much of the Twitter storm was based upon the fact that the woman claiming to be so enviably attractive was flawed by her founding assertion. One Tweet even claimed that the Daily Mail had obviously put the wrong picture next to the article. Maybe she was asking for it, the Daily Mail certainly was, but I’m not comfortable with people saying cruel things to people about what they look like. I’m not comfortable with people being judged in that way. Besides, this all detracted from the genuine issues behind the article.

Had the Daily Mail chosen a more flattering picture of the author, or no picture at all, would there have been such a storm? I sincerely doubt it. There was, however, a significant portion of the media storm that did focus on what was the real issue here.

We could have had less of the childish digs at her face and more of the questioning what she was saying. But in saying that, isn’t that what Samantha is communicating in the first place? That people are so consumed with the way she looks that they will spend money on her willy-nilly. Maybe the issue is that society as a whole is so obsessed with aesthetics that they fail to concentrate on the words and the real meaning. Maybe Samantha Brick thinks her astounding good looks are genuinely getting in the way of her being appreciated for her intelligence, riveting personality or ability to write a thought-provoking article. Maybe… or maybe she just needs to step back into reality.

Sally Post authored by: Sally Biddall
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There’s more to life than living on carrot sticks….

2011. After the years of women fighting relentlessly for everything from the right to vote to contraception; the sexes are finally on a level playing field and feminism is now irrelevant, right? Unfortunately this is definitely not the case. In terms of our bodies we may have gained the right to wear a tiny playsuit if we wish to, but we are now confronted by even more problems which shows just how relevant feminism still is.

Getting ready for a night out is a fairly relaxed occasion for most men (metrosexuals and fashion conscious gay men aside) whereas for a woman it can be a minefield. One is expected to look sexy, but not too sexy (after all, you wouldn’t want to be called a slut now would you) and be confident but not too confident (otherwise you are definitely stuck up). As a feminist I find myself with the added burden of wanting to feel beautiful without objectifying myself: whether an outfit makes me an empowered young woman or a sexual object is a definite grey area. This grey area also applies to my feelings on music videos; does it make me a bad feminist to be an avid fan of Beyonce and her confident ‘flaunt it’ attitude but be disgusted by thong adorned dancers in Flo Rida’s ‘masterpieces’?

Which brings me to celebrities. I’ve come to the conclusion that they are created simply to make the average woman feel inadequate. I mean really, I’m sure we’d all look like Megan Fox with a diet of coffee and carrot sticks, a generous serving of Collagen and a personal trainer on speed dial. Alas, we are continuously bombarded by these images of ‘perfection’ and it’s enough for even the most level headed female to feel our value is determined by the size of our thighs. As Shilling (2003) notes, our identity and sense of self is now so intrinsically linked to our bodies.

Furthermore, I believe that the media has a lot to answer for in regard to how we feel about ourselves. The increased prevalence of eating disorders and the popularity of dieting trends glamorised by celebrities of recent years cannot be purely coincidental. Obviously, the complexity of eating disorders cannot be simplified to the extent in which dieting trends (such as ‘size zero’) is held fully responsible; but I do believe they play their part.

So, with all this to contend with, where do women go from here? In my opinion, schools need to start educating children from a young age about self esteem and healthy eating habits – mainly as a preventative measure. I further think that throughout school young people should be given more supervision and support to ensure a healthy relationship with food. Aside from the education system I think that women need to start actively questioning this ridiculous ideology of ‘perfection’ and start putting their health first. Yes, supermodels may feel beautiful now but they will most likely suffer from health problems later. I believe that our bodies are incredibly intelligent entities that should be respected and by treating our bodies in this way we can start to feel beautiful inside and out.

In terms of women being objectified? Well ladies, I think we have a battle on our hands here. I don’t expect that Lady Gaga will be showing any less of her behind any time soon. However, that’s not to say we can’t make changes ourselves. It is undeniable that too much importance is placed on looks in our society but it would be ignorant to suggest women simply shouldn’t care about beauty; it’s only natural for women (and men) to want to feel attractive. So, let’s take the matter into our own hands. Empower yourself. Command respect from men. Don’t hate other women if they are beautiful. Volunteer for a women’s charity. Do not be ashamed to call yourself a Feminist (contrary to popular belief it is not a dirty word). And finally, step away from the scales and realise there is much more to you than the size of your stomach.

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