03 April 2012

The Samantha Brick lesson

Stone-cold fox Samantha Brick's dynamite good looks have caused some haters to hate. Those 'haters' include essentially every single person in Britain

Writer, award-winning producer and journalist Samantha Brick has written an article for the Daily Mail about how hard it is to be as beautiful as she is. Almost instantly she's been subject to some backlash that has been predictably negative and quite persistent.

Really, she should have known better.

In the UK it's barely okay to say you're doing well when someone asks how you are; (it's far more preferable for you to suggest that you're 'alright', with an indifferent shrug). If you were writing a memoir or autobiography, it would definitely sell better here if you focused on how hard your life has been, and how surprised you were by your unexpected success, (even though you'd always worked hard). Etc.

And we now have definitive proof that if you're writing an article, don't make the premise the fact you're a total babe - especially if you're probably just a seven. But how pretty she is (or isn't) is actually kind of irrelevant - the fact that she seems rather vain and clueless are more relevant, but still miss the real point.

This whole foofaraw has taught us that for the British, (and especially - I would hazard - for the British female), writing candidly about being beautiful, or I suspect, a sexual powerhouse, a business genius, or sporting god, (i.e. successful and enviable) is simply 'not on'.

In fact, if a woman is not plain, they should at least have the common decency to affect a lifelong air of false modesty and coquettish deference. For in the UK, one must never speak, behave or write as if they are confident about their looks (or anything). Even if, like Samantha Brick, they have a litany of examples of how their good looks have caused them both free champagne and unexpected social difficulties, it's just not okay.

This chart explaining 'what the British say and what they really mean' demonstrates the painful lengths people here go to say the opposite of what they mean, and how mild communications are supposed to be. And it's a point made emphatically in anthropologist Kate Fox's book Watching the English. Brick's article didn't follow these long-standing rules. Bad call.

What's going to happen next? Well, it's probably time for Samantha Brick to chalk the outraged reaction to her article up to experience and move on, grateful for the 24-hour news cycle. Or maybe it's time for British society to examine the way they treat people who dare to put their beautiful, beautiful face above the parapet to talk frankly about their positive attributes.

I suspect I know which is more likely.

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