For those who don’t know or who forgot, Samantha Brick is the chick who’s too sexy for France, the UK, the American media and…well, female friends. Maybe instead of writing this article that seemed to piss everyone off, she should have just put out a Right Said Fred remix? She would probably be more liked than she is right now, plus would have more money.
Although some of her stories to support her belief that women don’t like beautiful women seem a little crazy, her basic belief is not that crazy. I would not necessarily frame it as “women don’t like beautiful women,” though. And it’s far from all women. But there are many women out there who have issues with attractive women–enough for me to not really have a problem with what Brick has to say. I can’t say anything about the truth of her experiences, given that I don’t know her and don’t know what people in Europe are like. I don’t really have an opinion about her supporting arguments, but I can look at my personal experiences and observations.
Warning: This post has the potential to offend some people. If you are easily offended or have issues with candid racial discussions or homosexuality, please exit now.
Okay…You have been warned. 😉
Before I get more into why I kind of agree with Brick, I would like to point out two big things that jump out to me about the discussion surrounding what Brick had to say.
1) A lot of people have looked at Brick and said something like, “She’s not even that good-looking.” Well…I’m hearing this from a lot of Americans. But Brick lives in France, I think, and she’s from the UK, I believe. What some Americans do and don’t find attractive is not necessarily going to be the same standard in other nations. In fact, Americans don’t even all have the same standard for Americans. My observation is that what is attractive depends quite a bit on the race, sex, sexual orientation, primary environment and age of the person judging, and we also tend to go through general “fads” in the US in terms of what is attractive.
One of the only things that I’ve seen come close to being universally attractive or attractive throughout time is being a blonde as a female. Brick does have blonde hair. I don’t know about Europe, but–to me–in the US at this particular time, what’s in for women is being blonde (as always), Asian or Latina, perhaps in that order. And what that means is if you fit the fad, you don’t have to be attractive to get the attention of men–you just have to have some characteristic that is “in,” i.e. blonde hair, or being Asian or Latina. In fact, if it isn’t in the article I linked to above, I believe it’s in another article where Brick says that she didn’t start getting all of this attention from men until she started coloring her hair blonde.
Now, with the exception of Latin ancestry, these fads are not the same for women-to-men attraction. As best as I can tell as a lesbian, the men who are in are rich, powerful, good-looking and/or muscular white men (as always), black men and Latinos–but not Asians–and probably in that order. These are the guys who can be attractive even if they’re not actually physically attractive, at least at this point in time in the US.
The other thing that I believe has been overlooked when assessing Brick’s attractiveness is her age. In other words, I think one of the reasons a lot of people say she’s nothing special is because it’s obvious she’s not in her 20s. While there’s a growing sect in the US that especially appreciates women in their early 40s, there is still probably a larger sect that has a hard time finding a woman in her 40s especially attractive. Brick ends her article by indirectly acknowledging this sentiment, i.e. saying how she looks forward to age taking her beauty.
2) Brick is the victim of something more than just being “too beautiful”–she is also a victim of the conflicting messages we receive from society regarding how to feel about ourselves and how to speak about ourselves. The majority of women probably have issues with how they look. A lot of women don’t think of themselves as beautiful. We’re told that we shouldn’t feel this way, though. We’re told that we should realize that we’re beautiful and celebrate ourselves. There are campaigns from companies like Dove and even Fruit of the Loom relating to this issue with women. But, apparently, we’re only allowed to feel that we’re beautiful–we’re not allowed to say we are. That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. It’s double talk. It is and it isn’t okay for us to believe in our own beauty. It is and it isn’t okay to be humble or even less than humble about our beauty. Well, what’s right?
I know I definitely pause whenever I hear a woman talk about her own attractiveness. Usually, it’s either because I don’t think she’s as good-looking as she thinks she is, I wonder how she got to know/feel that she’s attractive–especially to the point of saying it out loud–and/or because I would never say what she just said. My point is I don’t think I’m the only one who feels a little weird when a woman acknowledges her beauty, and the reaction to Brick kind of supports that.
Now, I don’t think I’m attractive. I never have. I don’t feel bad about it, and I don’t think it’s important that I feel attractive. When I was a teenager and then in college, I took pride in being very intelligent, being talented and being funny. Since I’ve realized that my intelligence and my talent are worthless to most people, I am basically down to feeling pride about being funny and–whenever I am good at my job–being good at what I do. I am far more concerned with whether or not I’m good at work than whether or not I’m attractive.
Except for announcing “I’m beautiful,” I definitely relate to a lot of what Brick believes about her life. The difference is the types of things she says happen to her and the similar-but-different types of things that have happened to me…well, I don’t really know or understand why they happen to me. She is sure they are due to her looks. I do know, though, that my relationship with women has almost always been adversarial or alienating in some way or another–particularly black women–and I do know that I do not have these issues at all with men. Men do nice things for me, start conversations with me, stare at me (to the point where it’s awkward/annoying) and some ask me out. And this is pretty much all [types of] men, with the exception of asking me out (which is pretty much just black men). Women rarely speak to me, let alone do nice things for me, unless they are significantly older than I am (Brick says she has a lot of problems with older women, though). But this is a big step up from how women used to treat me when I was in school, including law school.
All of this is just great for a lesbian, by the way, y’all. Sarcasm.
Well, I can’t be sure if there is a connection here, but…although I am a black female and, thus, not “in” with men (or with women), I–much like Brick–do have some characteristics on my side that I do recognize as being attractive to some people even if I’m not actually physically attractive myself. I have long/so-called “good” hair and light skin. This works with black men, particularly older black men who grew up in that timeframe when black women were really their only socially acceptable dating option and these crazy things were what they used to determine the beauty of a black woman. Very frankly, when men hit on me, I assume that’s why they’re attracted to me (which, if I weren’t already a lesbian, would be an instant turnoff). Obviously, I have no idea if that’s true. But I do get hit on more by older black men than I do by anyone else, with Africans being a distant second–yet another group that cares about skin color.
I don’t know what this means for my relationship with women, or even my relationship with non-black guys with whom I develop more social relationships than all groups of women and always have. But I do know that I sometimes indirectly get the idea from black women–just from general discussions, not ones directed at or including me–that I am the bad guy or women like me are the bad guy, or “society” is the bad guy, because of my lighter skin color, my hair–especially the fact that I don’t wear my hair natural–and because I don’t immediately run to black people to show that my hair/skin color don’t make me feel that I’m better than them or don’t want to be white. And let me not forget that I’m also a bad guy for all this special treatment that I get because of my hair/skin color–special treatment that I’m not sure is that significant or helpful. If I were going to have a theory about my relationship with black women, this would be one. My theory about other women is they don’t talk to me because I’m black and they’re not, which they’d frame in smokescreen ways such as “we wouldn’t have anything in common.” But this doesn’t explain why some non-black guys are friendly with me.
I also have to point out that, although I think a lot of people have a different sense, the majority of lesbians don’t view women the way men do. I think many of us react to women much the same way as heterosexual women do because we’re socialized to do so most of our lives. In other words, a lot of us also have the same issues with women as heterosexual women do. When I hear about the same women in Hollywood all the time, like Kim Kardashian, I’m not responding with “XYZ is so hot”–I’m saying that XYZ gets on my nerves! She doesn’t get on my nerves because she’s “too beautiful.” She gets on my nerves because she’s shoved down my throat and because I’m sick of the Hollywood standard of beauty in the US. “She” is not just Kim–it’s pretty much all those Hollywood women who are shoved down everyone’s throats.
I don’t hate beautiful women, but I treat beautiful women the way most women treat me. In other words, I’m not mean to them, but I am less likely to interact with them at all than with other women and with men. This is especially true for beautiful non-black women. I have a really good white female friend, and we have talked about this a few times before. She has blonde hair, blue eyes, she’s thin and she cannot get men to leave her alone. I admitted to her that she and I would probably not be friends if we had met in person (we met on the internet). It was not that she was beautiful, which was not and would not have been my first thought about her upon first seeing her picture or if I saw her in person. It was the assumptions I would have made about her based on how she looks, including the fact that she’s white, the fact that she’s stereotypically attractive (even though she doesn’t think she is) and the fact that I’m tired of white women being valued more than other women–especially ones that look more like her. What would she know about 80s rap music (which she does know about)? What would she know about racial consciousness (which she does know about)?
Yes, I am saying that I treat women the way I believe women treat me. But I’m also saying this treatment is usually not based just on a woman’s beauty alone–it’s assumptions and characteristics, or at least that’s my theory.
Ironically, I think attractive women have the most negative assumptions made about them, especially by other women. And assumptions can be a problem even after knowing someone and allegedly being their friend, i.e. how Brick describes women with whom she previously had a friendly relationship becoming cold because the woman assumes her husband is interested in Brick and Brick would engage that interest. However, I have gotten to know some beautiful women and, upon getting to know them, I liked them more. And that was because I could overcome the idea of them that I had in my head by seeing that they were better people than that. Who knows? Maybe Brick’s problem is that she doesn’t overcome the negative assumptions women make about her, and maybe that’s on her. Or maybe these women she knows are that narrowminded. I know I don’t overcome negative assumptions women might hold because I never make any social effort with women, but I can’t say anything about Brick.