How Samantha Brick Unleashed the Ugly Side of Female Beauty

Those of you who have been baffled as to why the words “Samantha Brick” have been trending on Twitter, here’s the run down: This month Samantha Brick, a columnist from the right-wing tabloid the Daily Mail, published an article entitled, “There are downsides to looking this pretty: Why women hate me for being beautiful.” In response, streams of verbal abuse erupted on Twitter, and Samantha Brick has now become something of a celebrity.

Some commentators argue that Brick’s editors have literally thrown her into the wolves and the internet storm it generated has given her a lot of attention. But at the end of the day, even though I completely disagree with everything she says and believe her article isatrociously written, I take my hat off to her for masterminding such a clever stunt and unleashing everyone’s shallow side. 

The article published on April 3 detailed Brick’s personal experiences as an attractive woman, from having bottles of champagne sent to her table, bouquets of flowers given to her on the street, and train tickets and taxi fares paid for by completely random men. 

So, 5,000+ comments, thousands of abusive tweets and emails, and one television appearance later, Brick has now become an infamous household name all thanks to men and women with the shared mission of dismissing Brick as a dim-witted woman with too much arrogance for her own good. Even newspapers were chipping into the debate with an amusing parody of Brick’s article by the Guardian and some saying that the Mail has literally thrown her to the wolves.

What Samantha Brick does have that other women lack is confidence, a belief she is in fact attractive. There is nothing wrong with a woman who openly admits to the world that she thinks she’s attractive and is not afraid to flaunt it. But what has really ruffled feathers is that it seems to go against this tacit sisterhood code of modesty of “you’re not meant to say you’re good looking until another female friend says you are.”

What I think is wrong about the whole affair is the fact that it proves that people are bullies. As Patrick Hayes from the Independent puts it, “What is it about Twitter that makes so many people hurl abuse without a pause for thought? To act like gangs of brutal school bullies, mercilessly beating on the unpopular kid?”

That so many people have been set off in droves with tweets such as “she looks like she’s been hit by a Brick lol” being retweeted is quite reminiscent of the childish playground bullying that used to happen at school, and I’m here wondering whatever happened to adults in this world when someone coined the phrase “sticks and stones may break my bones.”

As Hayes argues, we get such a kick from joining in these types of internet mobs and it does make you feel good knowing that you are all taking up this joint mission of “we won’t stand for this kind of arrogance from women.” It feels even better when you are part of a mob of 5,000 doing the same thing. 

The reaction from Twitter is unleashing the ugly side of human beings and also unleashing just how vain and shallow people can be . At the same time, we have to wonder what kind of reaction this story would’ve received if it had been written by a man.

At the end, the Mail wants wants you to read this story, and react to it. Every journalist knows it is better to have 5,000 negative comments on something you wrote than to have no comments at all. Now that is a very cleverly masterminded exercise indeed.

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Vicky Wong

Vicky Wong is a London-based trainee news reporter with the British politics website PoliticsHome. She has interned with the Reading Post, Wokingham Times, Bracknell Forest Standard, Total Politics Magazine, and Sky News. She studied Politics and International Relations at the University of Reading and was News Editor for the University's student newspaper Spark*.

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