There is a teenage lady in my family. Teenage ladies are a mysterious species of their own, but not that long ago this particular specimen had a habit of standing in front of the mirror combing her hair and quite unabashedly admiring her reflection. Her grandma didn’t like it, telling her to stop staring. I, for my part, didn’t like what the grandma did and told HER to stop it, even though I understood her distaste for vanity. There are more important forces at play here.
We are all more or less aware of the pressures on women as regards their looks. My guess is that it is much worse for teenagers now than it was a million years ago when I was one, and it was bad enough then. The young lady stopped admiring her reflection soon enough, and will undoubtedly go through a significant amount of self-doubt in the future. It will be some time, probably decades, before she is again as pleased with what she sees in the mirror as she was a few years back. Or maybe she never will be that happy with her looks again.
So I say go for it. Admire yourself, young lady! It doesn’t matter who else sees it, you be proud, stare in that mirror and tell it, and everyone else, that you look beautiful.
Because there is nothing to be ashamed about in liking your looks.
And yet somehow we’re made to believe that there is. A year ago British journalist Samantha Brick wrote an article for Daily Mail in which she analysed the pros and cons of being a beautiful woman. I started reading the comments to the article – there are a total of 5725 – but had to give up because they were so horrible. It looks like by declaring herself good-looking Ms Brick had opened some kind of pandora’s box of spiteful comments.
What Ms Brick said was problematic and in my opinion quite anti-women. According to her, women are total bitches to those prettier than them – going to such lengths as torpedoing their careers. While you may expect this to elicit comments, I would have thought the comments to focus on the problematic proposition. Yet they often did not. What people appeared to be most upset about was the fact that Ms Brick dared to call herself beautiful when she was (in the opinion of the commenters) not.
Ms Brick detailed the backlash, including over 1000 hate-filled personal e-mails she’d received, in a follow-up article, calling – understandably – the experience “soul-destroying”.
Who cares what you or I think about the looks of one Samantha Brick? And what or who would give us the right to voice that opinion anyway? Where are the manners of all the people who think it ok to publicly declare someone “rather plain with crooked teeth”? Didn’t their mums teach them anything?
Samantha Brick feels beautiful, and I say good on her. I hope she has recovered from the upset caused by all the vitriol, and continues to look in the mirror, like my niece used to, and admire what she sees.