Brick-Gate

I normally shy away from gossipy news stories, but the Samantha Brick palaver has actually got me quite drawn in today. For those of you who’ve been hiding under a rock, (or scrubbing your surfaces) for the past 24 hours, Samantha Brick, a usually moderately interesting journalist and presenter, has gone viral. She wrote a piece for the Daily Mail yesterday which bemoaned the terrible fate of being so unbearably attractive that all women hate her and all men lust after her.

Oh dear. It’s a shame the column wasnt wide enough for her to fit in a sentence or two about the abysmal reality of having a large villa in France, being happily married or being frequently published in national newspapers and magazines. Then we could feel really sorry for her.

There’s been an interesting (if uneven) split in terms of responses. Most people seem to agree that she is a first class idiot for writing the article in the first place, and pretty arrogant to think that even if the words were true, anyone cares about the sentiment behind it. However, there are quite a few voices piping up on the internet and beyond, who are applauding Samantha Brick for her confidence and self esteem. Isnt this what all women desire to feel? they argue, Don’t we all want to think we’re the most beautiful woman in the world?

Personally, after some help from google images, I think she is pretty deluded, which of course doesnt matter in her own home with the privacy of her own bathroom mirror, but can certainly explain the backlash she has recieved by making her opinions so obscenely public.She describes how she frequently recives free gifts and drinks all over the world, and says “Whenever I’ve asked what I’ve done to deserve such treatment, the donors of these gifts have always said the same thing: my pleasing appearance and pretty smile made their day“. Come on, surely you didnt expect people not to call you arrogant?

But more importantly than her larger than life head, is the way she describes the relationships between females. Below are a few quotes from the article.

Women hate me for no other reason than my lovely looks

Over the years I’ve been dropped by countless friends who felt threatened if I was merely in the presence of their other halves

Unfortunately women find nothing more annoying than someone else being the most attractive girl in a room.

I Find that older women are the most hostile to beautiful women — perhaps because they feel their own bloom fading.

Once i finished laughing at the absurdity of these sentences, I realised how sad this is. This is a woman who obviously feels she has few if any female relationships, and has attributed it all to appearance and her perception of jealousy. Now I can only speak for myself, but if I think objectively about the female friends in my life, I can count many who I would say are more attractive than me. In absolutely no way does that relate to how close I feel to them, and to be honest, it isnt really something I think about too much. Most of us in this world are not supermodels or movie stars. Most of us, Samantha Brick included, are entirely average looking. Some days we make a little more effort, find a flattering outfit or the right shade of lipstick, and we might look a little better than we did. After a night on the town or a busy week, we become slightly more camera shy.
Samantha has basically put such emphasis on our appearance, put everything in her life down to the way she looks, and thereby absolved herself entirely of any responsibility to make her friendships work. She couldnt do anything about it, they were jealous of her. That friend has dropped her, it must be because the husband was attracted to her. Come on. Couldnt it possible be about your personality? Mightn’t you have done something that hurt their feelings? Could you both just not have made the effort, and so the friendship dwindled?

In my opinion, this kind of woman bashing, supposing that all females out there are afraid their husband is going to run off with the first blonde woman who walks through the door, or that no woman can bear to see anyone looking prettier than them walking down the street, is at best naive, and at worst, as sexist and shallow as her personal gripe is in the first place.

I think what has caused the hilarious and absurd backlash towards her, is that everyone knows the great thing about life and relationships is that attraction is subjective. There appears to be someone for everyone. We find it hard to believe that everywhere she goes, men find her beauty impossible to resist, because I’ve heard people say they could take or leave Jennifer Lopez. So to read Samantha’s cry of “Now I’m 41 and probably one of very few women entering her fifth decade welcoming the decline of my looks. I can’t wait for the wrinkles and the grey hair that will help me blend into the background” is a little hard to take. I’m sorry to tell you this, but no one knows who you are love. Except for those out there on Twitter suggesting the B in your surname is replaced with a P.

At least she’s learned her lesson though and is keeping her mouth shut from here on. In her response to the public outburst today, she just thought she would let us know, “While I was tearfully dealing with the emails and calls outside the supermarket, a young man approached me, offered to park my car and even get me a coffee.”

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Literally Ten Minutes

Working in publishing, I obviously like books more than your average mum. Working with children, and having a 1 year old myself, I am also obviously more invested in kids and their needs than the average publisher. Loving to read myself, I am eager to instill a love of books and reading in my son. His first gift was a ‘bumper book’ to go around his moses basket or his pram, and since then he now has a plethora of board books, buggy books, sensory books, lift the flap books, story books, cloth books, musical books and picture books.

So how can it be that 1/3 of UK children do not own any books at all?

The issue of literacy in Britian has finally arrived in the papers and on our screens, with shocking statistics such as the one above, and horribly amusing stories becoming front page news. Last year, the boy who got in trouble on ‘bring a book to school day’ was famously reprimanded because he brought the wrong kind of book. He announced that it was the only book they had in his house. The title? The Argos Catalogue.

I find it quite difficult to understand why there is such a problem with young kids and books. We are not talking about how many children eat their vegetables, or go to school without kicking up a fuss. The fact of the matter is, kids love them! They love being read to, they love looking at their own books, and they love being interactive with flaps and sensory pages, and most kids even enjoy learning to read. Once you’ve got to that age, surely the hard part is over. The kids are either used to being around books and reading, or not. Difference in personality means that obviously for some children this instills them with a love for reading, while for some it may still be a chore, but the groundwork is laid. On top of this, even if your children find reading itself hard, they would still enjoy being read to.

All I can surmise therefore, is that the literacy issues in this country are to do with parents. Whether reading is simply not important to them personally, or they struggle to read out loud accurately and confidently, or it’s just never crossed their minds, parents aren’t reading enough with their children.

For those who think reading isnt that important, I’ll summarise all the studies I’ve read right here in one easy paragraph. Reading with your child for ten minutes a day, starting earlier than the age of 2, has been proven to improve memory skills, language development and comprehension, speech patterns, listening abilities and creative and imaginatory play. Starting from a young age also gives your baby comfort, stimulation, and a better bond with you, and a bedtime story has even been shown to provide better general sleeping patterns and through the night sleeping at an earlier age.

If you’re embarassed, practice makes perfect. Your baby doesnt care if you’re the most confident reader. If you don’t have any books, or don’t know which ones to get, your local library can help with loads of great titles for each age group. If your child doesnt seem interested, persevere, and get excited about it yourself! What your kid wants most is the attention and interaction coming from you. Dont worry if they crawl or run away, their patience and listening skills will improve with time.

It’s a great time of year to make some new years resolutions, and if one of them is to spend more time with your kids, pick up a book, and thank me later.