Monthly Archives: April 2013

Samantha Brick: Abusing her Platform.

I am not generally in the business of slating another individual. I will slate groups of people and I will slate opinions I feel are harmful and invalid but never before has a person enraged me to the point where I’ve felt compelled to write about them as a single entity. My reasons for this are simple; I like to give people the benefit of the doubt and I consider how I would feel if somebody were to pick on me. The reason I’ve decided to bypass my normal judgment on this occasion? This person has picked on people ruthlessly, using her public platform to shame others for not conforming to her and her husbands idealised social norms. She didn’t stop to consider the effect her words may have on those reading them. She didn’t consider the nuances of different experiences or the reasoning behind people’s actions being linked to their own lives and feelings. She went in headstrong and thoughtless like a bull in a china shop, rearing her head and smashing everything surrounding her.

The person in question: Samantha Brick. I’m not going to post a link to the article Samantha Brick published in the Daily Mail this week as I don’t want to be responsible for it gaining any more hits than absolutely necessary so I will summarise; all “self respecting women” want to be thin. Fat = failure, fat = ugly and thin is the absolute ideal. Women should strive to be thin at all costs. She speaks of her extreme dieting during her 20s, glorifying the fact that she would survive on one meal a day and once passed out from hunger, justifying it as a means to an end as she was being asked on so many dates. Her emphasis on the need for women in particular to conform to these norms at all costs (she doesn’t mention men at all) speaks volumes. Why, Samantha, should you worry so greatly about your figure while your husband (who you speak so highly of, claiming he will divorce you if you gain weight) looks, to quote you directly, like a “sack of potatoes.” Normally I would shy away from using such a derisive term to describe another human being – it’s hurtful and completely lacking in compassion. For you Samantha, I will make an exception.

It’s this lack of human compassion and consideration of other people that worries me most deeply. I wonder whether Ms Brick stopped to consider the effect her words may have on somebody suffering with an eating disorder? I am not, thank God, but upon reading her hateful article I started grabbing at my love handles (size 10 Samantha, is that acceptable to you?) and wondering whether to skip lunch. She doesn’t consider that obesity is not caused solely by over eating or a lack of self control – it can be as a side effect of medication, it can be genetic. Obesity can effect people who are already very vulnerable – people taking anti-depressants and gain weight as a side effect. Would you claim Samantha that they should stop taking them? That being slim is of paramount importance and is the be all and end all? If so I think you need to take a long, hard look at yourself.

Samantha Brick has used her position of power and her platform at the Daily Mail to spread vicious messages that undermine the confidence of people who could potentially be extremely vulnerable. She didn’t stop to consider the effects of her words on those suffering with eating disorders, those who gain weight as an effect of medication or those who find it extremely difficult to lose weight for whatever reason. Not to mention the basis of her argument is inherently flawed – she ends on asserting that fat is a sign of failure. I don’t think I really have to justify why that is incorrect and if you need it explaining I can’t help you. The most important thing (in my opinion at least) is a persons well being, emotionally and physically. There is no point in making yourself unhappy in pursuit of a slim figure; that is no way to live. Her contemptible attitude towards those she feels are inferior to her on the basis of something as inane as dress size is not only anti feminist but in my opinion, anti-human. If you were adversely affected by Samantha Brick’s hateful article remember this; it was the biggest crock of shit ever written. End.

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The Eternal Conundrum: Why Do Women Hate Their Bodies?

TW: Discussion of Eating Disorders.

Today I’m gonna talk about something I’ve covered at length in at least two other posts that I can remember: body image. This afternoon my boyfriend threatened to put a sheet over the mirror in his bedroom as I stood in a new pair of trousers, sucking my tummy in to make them fit and muttering under my breath to “look how bloody fat I look urgh for the love of…
He looked me dead in the face. “Laura” he said “you are not fat, I am covering that mirror as it is fuelling your ridiculous complex.”
I was shocked. “What?! I don’t have a complex?!”
He shot me a look. I sat down with a thud.
“Oh God, I do have a complex, don’t I?”
“I don’t think I have to answer that. Cuppa?”
“Please. A strong one, with sugar.”
“Biscuit?”
“Two please.”

In that moment it really struck me; I do have a complex. Somewhere along the line I lost all sense of perspective.
I’m not the only one either; hospital admissions related to eating disorders rose 16% in the UK in 2012. I do not have an eating disorder thank God, but I know an upsetting number of people who do. They are terrible afflictions that warp peoples perceptions of themselves, moulding them through self loathing in to terrible misrepresentations within their own minds. They are hideous, ruinous and dangerous. Whilst most women (I say women because women are vastly more likely to develop eating disorders than men, although I know this is not a wholly female phenomenon) do not develop full blown eating disorders, I’d wager the very vast majority do feel a certain sense of inadequacy when it comes to their own form. We all pick ourselves to pieces; we’re our own biggest critics.
What causes this chronic sense of inadequacy?  I am no expert in sociology or psychology or whatever the hell else but I am an expert in being a 21 year old woman who despises her own tummy so I feel I’m fairly well qualified to answer this question. I want to shout it from the rooftops until I lose my voice:

The Media! That’s what’s bloody well causing it!
The bloody, sodding, smegging media, with its thoroughly unrealistic representations of women and how they feel women should look. That’s what’s causing it! I can’t walk down a major road for more than about half a mile without seeing a photo of a scantily clad young woman with perfect skin and hair smiling back at me from a bus stop or shop window. I can’t watch TV without an advert for some miracle product claiming to “tame” my hair, “smooth” my skin, “sculpt” my silhouette popping up and making me self conciously suck in my tummy and smooth my wayward locks. Maybe – and this is a controversial thought so you’d best prepare yourself – maybe I don’t want to tame my hair. Maybe my enormous, frizzy hair is just fine as nature intended. Maybe I actually quite like my rotund little bum and slightly yellow, tea stained teeth. NO NO NO, OF COURSE NOT. The perfect woman shows no sign of aging, no sign of eating cake, no signs of stress or exhaustion or drinking too much caffeine. How silly of me. I’d better work on that.

Some would go one step further. This is symptomatic of a society and system that works to keep women down; keep us preoccupied if you will. Whilst I don’t know if there’s an active conspiracy I would definitely say that this hideous misrepresentation and systematic wearing down of self esteem is symptomatic of a patriarchal society. Women feel continually inadequate. Double standards are forever being applied; in the work place and in society as a whole. More than just being talented at what we do, we have to be smoking hot too. The very existence of the terms yummy mummy and MILF for example. More than just being good mums, we’re expected to be hot too and in a way not applied in the same kind of way to blokes in my experience.

Let’s get one thing straight. I do show signs of stress and caffeine and cake. My hair is frizzy, I have to wear a knee support because I have a cartilage condition and no, it is not sexy.
But you know what media: I’m gonna try really really bloody hard not to care any more. You can bite me.

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