Brick’s piece, titled “’There are downsides to looking this pretty’: Why women hate me for being beautiful” is a narcissistic exposition on just what it sounds like from the headline. In it, she woefully bemoans her status as a beautiful woman for the spite and ire it draws from her female – we’ll just assume, straight, equally beauty-focused, probably white female – companions. Aside from the “countless friends” who have felt threatened by her presence, Brick regales her readers with stories of a female boss who prevented her from a world of success (which she links to this unfortunate woman’s recent weight gain), dinner guests who made snarky comments about her attire and a woman who went so far as to push her out of a photograph in a jealous fury over her good looks.
Given the proximity of its publication to April Fools, many readers initially thought Brick’s piece was a poorly written, tasteless joke. Indeed, it reads like an amateur spoof; the public musings of someone so genuinely assured of their own beauty and the powerful envy (or male admiration) it generates to go so far as to immortalize this confidence in the books of universal online history. It doesn’t help that Brick is not – and I’ll be diplomatic – as stunning as you’d imagine reading her essay.
Unfortunately, spoof it was not; though before poor Samantha could spell “narcissist” backwards, spoofs (and worse) came a-volleying her way. Since Tuesday, Brick has become the object of vituperative attacks, which she has already publicly responded to in a follow-up essay as a confirmation of her original assertions. While some have taken issue with her tone and character and a few brave souls have even lauded her honesty, the brunt of the widespread wrath incurred has been aimed at – you guessed it – Brick’s appearance.
Troublingly, what can be discerned from much of this condemnation is an implication that the gall in all she wrote would have been more palatable accompanied by a different composite of features. That is, were she a ‘10’ instead of a ‘6’ or whatever ridiculous valuation she deserves, she might have ducked out on the cyber-broadcast viral-loaded hate mail. And this is where I place my concern.
Was Brick’s article shamefully misguided? Perhaps. Blame the Daily Mail, as Guardian columnist Hadley Freeman has done quite pointedly. Was it indulgent? Certainly. Blame her parents, her childhood, her friends, her husband, her therapist, whomever cultivated her capacity for self-assuredness. Was her piece, and was she, deserving of the caustic responses regarding her physical appearance? In some ways, yes – by publishing a deeply personal essay in a national newspaper, some would say (and have said) she was asking for it. Good thing she seems to have such a strong sense of self and a handle on her own constructions of what it means to be beautiful, however conventional and uncomplicated they may be.
But, what have these reactions expressed about the online, non-inner-workings-of-Samantha world, especially when it comes to women, beauty and their bodies? And what do they say about how acceptable it is for women to feel confident about themselves, in private or in public spaces? I can’t help but wonder, sadly, why she is such an anomalous figure in the way she feels about her own beauty.
There are blurry lines between the multiply possible body images available to us in our visual culture. And while fat activists fight against anti- obesity campaigns for perpetuating stigma, girls fill endless pages with photographs of skeletal women on thinspo tumblrs. All too easily dismissed as a pathologized ‘first world problem’ that overwhelmingly afflicts upper-middle class white girls, anorexia and its eating disorder-umbrella corollary, bulimia, have recently made a kind of terrifying comeback-cum-media splash. Just a few weeks ago, Israel legally banned the use of ultra-skinny models (love the language that makes them sound like impoverished mannequins) in commercials and runway shows, in hopes of sending a body-positive message. Then Dara-Lynn Weiss spilled her (shrunken) guts about putting her 7-year-old daughter on a diet in a widely read and heavily criticized recent Vogue article. With these reminders of the hatred with which so many women treat their bodies, and the constant backlash surrounding our appearance, it’s a pity so much has been directed at Brick.
Modesty may still be considered a virtue in some circles, but perhaps overconfidence is the antidote to the alternative.
Here’s what you need:
Here’s what to do:
Get up from your erotic spine massage and put your squashes on the cutting board. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Halve the squashes (don’t HAVE them, not yet) and scoop out the seeds. If you’re super gung-ho about waste (by which I mean NOT wasting) then you can set the seeds aside for later roasting.
Once they’re gutted (like Dara-Lynn Weiss’s daughter’s stomach, and sense of self worth), slice the halved acorn squashes into wedges. Distribute wedges evenly on a baking sheet. Okay I forgot to mention that in the list of things you need. You need a baking sheet. Parchment paper helps, too. Do NOT use wax paper instead.
Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle salt over said wedges, and toss. No, not in the garbage! Wouldn’t that be silly! Toss the wedges lightly so that they’re coated for roasting. Stick them in the oven.
Start making your rice. This step fits in conveniently here, but it’s optional (I mean, unless you want rice. Then you do have to make it).
Next, peel and wash your Brussels sprouts. They’re kind of just layers upon layers of leaves (like cabbages, duh), so take off the outer layers and scrub the dirt off. It’s kind of like exfoliating (it’s literally like that, like, that’s the literal Latin to English translation: ex foliate = de-leaf)
Chop the butts off your sprouts, and then halve those babies, too. Cut the pears into wedges, and chop the shallots into biggish pieces (How helpful is that, “biggish.” Sorry),
Put the sprouts, pears and shallots into whatever roasting vessel you have procured, and mix around with olive oil, salt and pepper.
Grate your ginger generously (well doesn’t THAT sound like alliterative fetish porn from 1880s Scotland) over the roasting vessel and mix in with the sprouts, pears and shallots.
Add your thyme. Stick in the oven. While you’ve got the oven open, check on your squashes. I had to take mine out and make sure they were roasting evenly, so you might also.
Now, you simply wait. Roasting of the vegetables (I KNOW pear isn’t a vegetable) takes about 45 minutes to an 1 hour, and you can keep checking on your squashes intermittently. At one point, I’d say after about a half hour, you should take out the vegetables and mix them around again.
Whatever is going on with your rice at this point is all up to you. If you started making it, it’s probably done. Set it aside.
When everything is done, you can artistically place the pears, sprouts and shallots on a bed of rice, or over a few squash wedges, or you can make a face, or write a message on your plate. Whatever you do, enjoy. Eating, whether it’s delicious food, or sometimes your words, is always, always a good thing.