Tag Archives: Body Image

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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Hey, Beauty Industry! I am not a cash cow!

Hey there Beauty Industry! Just thought I’d let you know, Milk Chocolate Hobnobs are currently half price in Sainsburys. 87p. I know this because yesterday I bought some. About half way through the packet, my boyfriend turned to me and asked “don’t you think we should stop now? This is not good for us.” I paused, mid mouthful. That fleeting comment, said out of care rather than out of malice, ripped open a barely healed wound. I am not overweight by any standard but like many women I am incredibly concious of my tummy. Through the tears and hysterical cries of “Why would you say that?! Do you think I’m fat?!” I realised how completely ridiculous I was being – how completely ridiculous the whole situation was.

Bliss magazine ran a survey in 2004 that looked at teenage body image amongst its readers. In 2004 I was 12 years old. Their findings were damning – of the 2000 girls they surveyed only 19% were clinically overweight. However, 67% thought they needed to lose weight. 2 out of 3 of those under 13 years old had already put themselves on a diet. I was one of those girls. It has become clear to me that my generation (and probably the generation before us, although of course I have no first hand experience of this) have a massively warped self image problem. This video, entitled Onslaught, perfectly summarises the issue.

Although the fact this is produced by Unilever (also responsible for those heinous Lynx adverts that do nothing but perpetuate the problem they claim to highlight here) is hypocritical at best, the point I’m making stands. I can very clearly remember sitting in my primary school canteen deliberating whether or not to eat the Jam Roly Poly in front of me. The dinner lady asked me whether I was finished. I sighed in that way that only a 10 year old girl can and said “Yes. I’m on a diet.” It was years until I realised how completely fucking ridiculous that was – not only of the 10 year old me to say no to Jam Roly Poly – the fact that the 10 year old me was already conditioned to feel that she was too fat. I also felt I was too tall (I was the second tallest in my year), that my hair was too curly, that my feet were too small. Of course it transpired I was just an early bloomer. I’m still slightly taller than average but of course, the problem does not lie with my 10 year old form. It lies with an industry that systematically pulls apart the confidence of young women by making them feel they are inferior before they’ve even stopped growing.

To this very day, what with Hobnobgate this morning and the squeezing in to size 10 jeans so I don’t have to admit I’m a 12, I am plagued by a chronic sense of inadequacy. Why is this? It is because from the word go, young people are plagued by advertising and media that paints being fat as a hideously terrible thing, aging as a sign of weakness, imperfections as disgusting. Don’t get me wrong: I love a bit of make up and have been dying my hair for years. But I know and acknowledge that the beauty industry is an evil one where companies point out women’s imperfections and make them feel like shit about them in order to sell a product. Let’s not delude ourselves. Women are being treated like cash cows. Stupid ones too. I for one have had enough of it. Beauty is a social construction, women need to learn to love ourselves a little more and care what others think a little less. You, beauty industry, need to give us a break. Go and bother the blokes for a while. How about a ridiculously patronising campaign for them, full of male stereotypes and buzzwords. Fatigue smashing super energizer quattro stab sex cream or something along those lines. I am off to have another Hobnob. Laters, you fucking arseholes.

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