Belfast Telegraph

Just another Brick in the wall of fake female envy

By Jane Graham

It's the most commented-upon article in the history of one of the biggest newspaper sites in the world. It pulled in more than 1.5 million online visitors in two days. Celebrities like Lily Allen, Kirstie Allsopp and Duncan Bannatyne queued up to pour scorn on the woman who wrote it.

But my very first thought on reading Samantha Brick's supposedly taboo-busting article - the gist of which is, "my lovely face makes women hate me" - was, is this a spoof?

Brick's article, published in the Daily Mail on Tuesday, was a mournful little 'Why oh why' about the reams of threatened, jealous women who have cut her out of their lives/refused to promote her/pulled their husbands away from her/neglected to ask her to be their bridesmaid - and all on account of the woman's intoxicating beauty.

Meanwhile, providing moments of light relief in what sounds like an utterly exhausting struggle to lead a normal life, men - who have never met the 41-year-old blonde before - regularly introduce themselves to her in public places with impromptu bunches of flowers, train tickets and bottles of champagne.

This story was illustrated with photographs of a mumsy woman one might fairly describe as average looking, sucking her bumpy belly in while posing in rather frumpy M&S style outfits.

I can't guess what Ms Brick really sees when she looks in the mirror, but I'm pretty sure the newspaper's editor sees the same as the rest of us.

In fact, I'd imagine the entire idea for the article came from the top, and was handed to a freelance journalist who agreed to write any old inflammatory guff for a big paycheck.

Whosoever's idea it was, in terms of water-cooler journalism, it worked. Brick is still sending Twitter into orbit and racking up online hits at a rate of knots.

And the paper has kept the momentum going by commissioning a second piece in which Brick has revealed her pain on reading the cruel comments which met her article (comments kindly re-hashed by The Mail and quoted at length in Brick's own follow-up).

It's true that when we're feeling especially vulnerable - just after having a baby perhaps, or faced with revelations about a partner's infidelity - being around confident, beautiful women is not a fillip. And yes, there are jealous women, just as there are jealous men, and they're unlikely to encourage their other halves to hang out with stunners.

But, for the most part, women choose their friends because they like them, because they're funny or supportive or good at having a fun time.

Equally, men, unless sponsored by Milk Tray, do not tend to break out of ticket queues to splurge on gifts for passing strangers they'll never see again.

If half of Brick's tales are true I'd suggest she checks her home for microphones and scans The Truman Show for clues as to the real nature of her existence.

It isn't the contrived and phoney nature of the piece that bothers me, but the fact that it trades yet again on that old chestnut - that women secretly hate each other and can only relate to one another as sexual rivals.

How amusing for those men who back each other up to the very top of the ladder to see their female opposition so neatly divided and conquered.

The inside enemies of the sister hood aren't the envy-riddled witches these kind of articles invent; they're the female journalists who agree to set aside decency and truth to write them.

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