Opinion piece: Samantha Brick
Originally posted here for The University of Sheffield (ForgePress) on 04/05/2013
Samantha Brick recently wrote an article for the Daily Mail that voiced her opinion on what she sees as the correct relationship between a woman and her weight. According to Brick, “The logic is simple and irrefutable: any self-respecting woman wants to be thin, and to be thin you need to spend your life on a diet.” She goes on to give examples of how she has stayed thin throughout her life, ending up at the conclusion that “there is nothing in life that signifies failure better than fat.”
We are also to glean from the article that she believes overweight women are never attractive, less employable and that it is acceptable for a spouse to divorce their wife if the wife puts on an undesirable amount of weight.
My first reaction to this article was bemusement – what was the point of it? Why was this woman spouting such vicious babble onto the World Wide Web? Apparently it was in response to Joan Collins admitting to dieting every day, but this seems a shallow front for the Daily Mail wanting to give Brick another opportunity to piss off the public once again. This time though, I was genuinely pissed off.
The issue I have with this article is the underlying sexist tone i.e. that women gain their value from how they look. I cannot understand why Brick believes what she is saying and why she would want to perpetuate this chauvinistic point of view to the rest of the world. Nowhere in this article does she suggest that men should stay on a strict diet, in fact she includes a picture of her husband who is quite clearly overweight – yet apparently that’s not a problem. She gives no argument as to why it is okay for one sex and not the other to be overweight; it seems we are just supposed to accept this silent assumption. Well no thank you Mrs Brick, I’d prefer to have some of that ‘irrefutable’ evidence you claim to have in order to prove why thin is synonymous with self-respect but only vis-à-vis women.
The other glaring issue I have with the article is the obvious detrimental effect it could have on vulnerable people who read it, not necessarily just younger readers, but older people who struggle with their weight and confidence issues too. I’m sure more of us than we’d care to admit would like to shed a few pounds, but the aim should not be solely be that of “thin”, rather a size we feel comfortable and happy with. Not once does she mention doing exercise or the importance of a balanced diet, instead it seems almost as if she gloats when she says: “like my female French in-laws, I follow an extreme low-calorie diet four times a year – one each season. I lose at least half-a-stone each time, though the side-effects mean that I don’t have the mental or physical fortitude to work.” This is not the right way to diet and there is no excuse for her to write such provocative things that can quite obviously be taken as advice by those either naïve or vulnerable enough to agree with her point of view that thin is the ultimate goal, regardless of how you get there.
In light of my anger I started a petition against Samantha Brick in hope that she would lose her position at the Daily Mail. She seems unworthy of a world-wide audience, especially after sending out such irresponsible messages to and about women. Upon reflection it may have been a bit hasty (what with free speech an’ all) but here it is anyway:
Whether I succeed or fail in my efforts against Brick, I guess you’ve got to have some sympathy for her – after all, there is nothing in life that signifies failure better than writing for the Daily Mail.