>Charlotte Barnes looks at the recent controversy surrounding the Daily Mail’s columnist, Samantha Brick and her article, ‘“There are downsides to looking this pretty”: Why women hate me for being beautiful.’

Over the years of publications the Daily Mail has often caused quite a stir in terms of its portrayal of and conduct with the female population. We are often greeted with over-dramatic snapshots of a celebrity who forgot to put make-up on that morning or a 55-year-old star who dares to have cellulite. However, it seems that the Daily Mail has taken it too far this time with their publication of Samantha Brick’s article regarding her beauty, and how the natural response to said beauty is allegedly to hate her.

Admittedly the population is currently struggling to decide which element of this report is more infuriating: the fact that a decidedly average looking woman has placed herself on a pedestal above the rest of the female population, or the fact that the Daily Mail, unsurprisingly, allowed this to happen.

It would seem that for Samantha Brick the article was a serious statement, despite the resounding “Is she serious?” response that has bounced around the globe since the release of the article. However, for the Daily Mail it would seem that the publication of this article is yet another stab at the female gender; a proposal supported not only by Samantha Brick’s article, but also by the unflattering photographs that accompanied it. Whether it was done deliberately or whether it was a mere accident (not that many of us are naïve enough to believe that there are any accidents in the unflattering pictures that the Daily Mail release), the images that were featured offer an image of someone who is, if I may say so, considerably less attractive than the woman we are currently seeing in interviews all over the television. Not only has this grabbed the attention of women up and down the country, but the Daily-Mail-dislike-women theory seems to be something that even the likes of Charlie Brooker and Hadley Freeman concur with. In fact, Freeman, who writes for The Guardian, goes as far as claiming that “the Daily Mail hates women”, and I’m afraid that over the years the tabloid’s reports haven’t given us much reason to differ from this proposed idea.

While hate may be a strong word, in this particular context it seems to be the most appropriate adjective to use. Whenever I log onto the Daily Mail website (which I can assure you isn’t a regular occurrence), I’m either greeted with “She’s so thin, you should love her” or “Ugh! Look at those thighs, she should be shot!” There seems to be very little substance between these two mediums. Is this what British journalism has been reduced to? Generally speaking, no. This is just the Daily Mail, or as many of my friends have called it “the Daily Fail”, launching and re-launching as many attacks as they can think of, or in some cases fabricating, to damage the image of the female gender; a foolish attitude to adopt considering that over half of the readers of the website are in fact female.

As this article is being written the Daily Mail Online is sporting headlines such as “How NOT to do festival fashion”, attacking pop-star Ke$ha’s style (or alleged lack of). Also, “Shouldn’t you know better?” questioning Christie Brinkley, who appears to have accidentally flashed a black undergarment whilst wearing a white dress. Like she’s the first woman to suffer that affliction? These are just two of the many examples of how woman are being portrayed as fashion disasters and media disappointments. The rather brutal Charlie Brooker highlighted the irony of this fact given the editor of the publication, Paul Dacre, is hardly an Adonis himself. Brooker rather boldly suggested that rather than being an attractive older gentleman, he in fact resembles “an experimental pig man”.

There is an obvious challenge in outright concluding that the Daily Mail hates women. Hate is after all a strong word and there are admittedly occasions when women in the media willingly lend themselves to the critical articles that find their way onto the Daily Mail website. So while I – much less brave and bold than other journalists – am not necessarily willing to say the Daily Mail hates women, I’ll certainly admit that they don’t like them. And, given Samantha Brick’s outburst and the current investigations in regards to the Daily Mail, I imagine the feeling is entirely mutual.

Charlotte Barnes