Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

Samantha Brick, of whom I had never heard until her articles in the Daily Mail were tweeted about, has carried out a marvellous piece of marketing. Thousands of people now know her name. As a writer she has achieved the amount of publicity that the majority of us can only dream about – no such thing as bad publicity apparently. Putting the publicity angle to one side, it will have made people think about the concept of beauty. Samantha claims that her ‘beauty’ has both opened and closed doors for her, that she is frequently offered drinks, helped with carrying shopping or parking her car and all because her ‘pretty smile’ has made someone’s day. That may be so, but what is beauty?

There are numerous quotes about beauty but two that I think are most appropriate in this case are, ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ and ‘Beauty is only skin-deep.’ Considering the first - when Samantha Brick looks in the mirror she must see a beautiful woman who is slim, wears her clothes well and takes care in her appearance, otherwise we would not have been subjected to her article. She is confident. Confidence, where people hold their head high and walk tall, makes them more attractive to others – it is body language that we sub-consciously read, you cannot get that from a photograph. I was always told to be more confident about myself but found it difficult, still do sometimes. When I walk into a bar either I am completely oblivious to people taking note of me, or if I do I immediately assume I must have my skirt tucked in my knickers or something mad has happened to my hair – I do not think, these people are looking at me because I am attractive; Samantha probably would. I do not have the confidence of Samantha, she would see glances as admiring whereas I panic about a wardrobe malfunction, but I have improved. And with the growing confidence that comes with age, the acceptance of the body I inhabit and the person I am, I have become more attractive to others. More strangers will talk to me in a bar, though I am yet to be inundated with bottles of bubbly – which is a shame as I rather like the stuff.

The number of harsh, and in some cases downright nasty, comments that Samantha received – from both men and women, though in her second article she seemed only to have noticed those from women – comes from people comparing their ideals of beauty with the pictures of Samantha. From my viewpoint she is moderately attractive, not stunningly beautiful, but she will be seen as attractive or thought beautiful by some. That is the beauty of mankind; we all like different things, find beauty in different forms – Vive la difference!

As for beauty only being skin-deep that is true to a degree, but beauty can come from within. Someone with a good heart, kind words to say, who is not conceited, who makes time for others, will be considered a beautiful person. No-one wants to be thought of as ugly but beauty fades (and with the ‘help’ of a surgeon’s knife often becomes a distorted mask) and it is the person within that is going to attract friends and admiration. Yesterday I was told repeatedly by a 74 year-old shepherd that I was ‘guapa’ (Spanish for pretty). As I was walking the dogs, make-up free, hair scraped back and in far from stylish clothes, I assumed that this was either due to failing eyesight on his part OR because I made time to stop to talk to him. Whatever the reason it made me smile – everybody likes a bit of flattery regardless of the quarter it comes from. One of the comments posted in response to Samantha’s second article mentioned Mother Theresa as a beautiful person for the reasons I have mentioned above – someone who gives their time and cares for others. Samantha claimed that she had helped many of her friends with both emotional and financial support so if that was the case why did so many turn against her as she claims? Perhaps they were particularly shallow people whom she will be better off without. Perhaps their turning against Samantha was misinterpreted by her, after all we do not have sight of these conversations between friends on Facebook. If a friend asked ‘What is Deborah on?’ or ‘Where did these stupid ideas come from?’ following the publishing of a daft article I’d written, after a night of cooling down I would give time to their questions. Is this an attack on me by friends, or is it genuine concern or confusion as to my motives – was the article a radical departure from my normal persona? Samantha needs time to consider her actions before slating her friends again – but of course there isn’t time for reflection in the publicity maelstrom.

I have made assumptions about the type of person Samantha Brick is, as anybody who reads an article will do about the author. I have looked for physical beauty and found neither ugliness nor stunning beauty; I have looked for a beautiful character but one is not readily apparent, though I should not expect to find it in an article written to grab attention. All one can say is Good Luck Samantha, may your article reap the rewards you desire and that your friends remain true.

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