- Here’s to You, Ellen Page - 15 February, 2014
- Make-up and Feminism Can Go Hand in Hand - 13 January, 2014
- The Rainbow Curtain: Russia, LGBT Rights and the Winter Olympics - 17 August, 2013
The weight of womanhood is a heavy one. As we choose to settle ochre on our lids and apply vibrant compounds to our lips, we marry the science of aesthetics to our beleaguered face. It’s logical, simple, compact, and it serves a purpose.
Staring into the looking glass, the whole fascination with appearance becomes far less Alice In Wonderland than it used to be; lines furrow in places they should, pores are caked over rather than airbrushed, eyes become too small, too lost in the chaos of the decoration. What was fancy dress has become a necessary evil – the loss of innocence has aged our face. We are ornamental, the best we can be; but if we cannot achieve epic proportions in the dim light of our bedroom mirror, how will the daylight ever save us?
Frustrated and vulnerable, a scan of the mass below ensues. Delete/apply where applicable. Limbs are too short /long /muscly /waify /flabby. Arms are too fat /thin /disproportionate /blemished. Breasts are too droopy /small /large /undefined /uncentralised, never mind whether nipples are too big /small /pink /brown /spotty /hairy, and the rest of the “ickies” that we fail to discuss in case a natural state of being offends. The list goes on. Categorising every flaw that we possess, the numbers don’t add up. As the numbers expand and contract in a purported sense of logic, fantasies in the numbers get smaller and smaller and become a sweet nectar, as tangy and refreshing as idealism can be. The Golden Ratio is the new Pythagoras; a piece of mathematical genius which GCSE Maths never put to the fort. Intelligence renders itself subordinate to this beautiful new paradigm, one that is ever-compelling, never lasting.
Samantha Brick’s mind must be stuffed full of numbers. Dress sizes, scales, and calories are all part of the daily fix, leading to her daily fail on the Daily Mail. Full of statistics, her mentality carries the weight that her body forgot. Perhaps she fails to notice those tiny beauty queens that advertise a countless list of must haves on listless stress. Perhaps she never reads the paper that she writes for. Perhaps she is unlike any women out there, distant from the Westernised concept of attractiveness that is as Biblical as the twelve disciples themselves. We all know it cannot be true. Bringing the numbers to life with written zeal, Samantha becomes a zealot for the beauty industry that stamps on her. Weighed down by the ghost of pounds past and scarred by the surgeon’s knife that dances in front of her, she directs her venomous, misguided logic towards her fellow sisters, hoping to pass on her relentless quest of beauty to yet another victim, providing another victim for insatiable slaughter.
The feast of beauty has tomes dedicated to it. Naomi Wolf’s Beauty Myth is still being ignored 22 years on, compelling us to disparage our superficial compulsions and take control with the power of our minds. However, we are not only our worst enemies. Looking at the reaction to Brick’s article says it all. Rather than picking at the ideology behind her fraught, weight-lidden nightmares, commentators have decided to deduce her in the way that she insists we all do. “You’re not exactly slim yourself,” one commentator attacks. “Thick as a Brick and ugly too,” snipes another. “No wonder you’re infertile,” adds another. Rather than picking away at the insecure logic that surrounds her clumsy phrasing, others decide to join in the lambast, with thousands of passersby giving the comments a swift “thumbs up”. In a £15 billion rich beauty industry, the numbers have won over again, mutating the faces of those we see in an attempt to justify the embarrassingly shallow way we perceive others.
Although Brick’s poison is that of an unhappy person, it is hard to sympathise with such a bastion for perfection. Wielding the torch of inadequacy, Brick’s role as a dieting torchbearer is one too close to the bone. In our private moments, our private penitent moments, there is a part of us that realises our expectations of ourselves are only as real as the pictures of the models we see. In our championing of such a slim sect of beauty, we register that we are more than a Facebook photo, that we live move and breathe beyond the scrutiny of a camera lens. Our living, moving and breathing selves decided to use our clothes and make-up as tools of empowerment, a creative outlook to make the best of the beautiful life that we have been given.
The inward struggle I depict, however, does not encompass every living and breathing female I have met, for better or for worse. There are amazing women out there, amazing women who light up the path to self-acceptance, and lead the way for the rest of us to accept our bodies in a manner in which Samantha would gaze in awe. Those spots and hairs are reclaimed and made common domain. Weighed down by the logic of reason and the might of the mind, they shatter the mirror and create a reflection – one which represents true beauty inside and out. For others, those numbers signify a struggle that occurs every single second of the day.
As I have watched so many of my loved ones refuse to eat and refuse to forgive themselves a single glass of milk, a midnight snack, a carbohydrate, I wonder when this sickness will be treated with the seriousness it deserves, rather than trivial piecemeal by a columnist who should know better. I wonder if people, people like me, people like you, and people like Samantha Brick just fail to realise not only how sick those individuals are, but how sick the misogynistic society we live in is as a whole. I can attempt to forgive Samantha, but the real question to be raised is as to whether Samantha will ever forgive herself.