I know I'm not as lovely as Kate but how I wish I believed I was!
11:01 GMT, 8 April 2012
I’ve been trying to avoid the whole Samantha Brick debacle. You know, the woman who wrote about how being beautiful has been a curse.
I even managed to ignore Hadley Freeman in The Guardian calling me ‘bitter and label-loving’ – and The Daily Telegraph, which posed this question: ‘Is Samantha Brick the new Liz Jones’
The eye-blindingly stunning Emily, who runs my local delicatessen, said to me as I went in to buy my usual coffee beans: ‘Of course she’s not the new you. You’re the most self-deprecating person I know! How stupid.’
Laced up: Kate wears Erdem in Canada while Liz dresses up in Debenhams
But when I read on Friday in an online magazine that I am, apparently, a ‘deluded dog’, well, my hackles went up.
This person was incensed that I had written an article saying my style was unconsciously mirroring Kate Middleton’s. How dare I, a fiftysomething woman, compare myself to a clearly insanely beautiful 30-year-old Princess.
Samantha Brick with her husband Pascal
It really annoys me when people miss the point, which is that the Duchess of Cambridge is hugely influential, especially on impressionable women with low self-esteem, and subtly changes our perception of what it is to be beautiful. I know I’m not as lovely as Kate. I’m not vain. I don’t even have a mirror in my bathroom. I never look at photographs of myself. Unlike Samantha Brick, I repel men and always have. The point is that images in the media convince women who don’t have high self-esteem, a protective bubble of love, friends, family and so on, to change themselves. A digested read of my entire oeuvre could be summed up thus: ‘Basically, I hate myself.’
My initial feeling, and that of 99.9 per cent of the online commentators, was that Brick should not be so vain or deluded. As columnist India Knight tweeted: ‘Oh dear.’
But having racked my teeny brain for what I really think about this woman, it’s this: how wonderful to go through life believing you’re special. I’ve never known that, not for a second. And so I am more vulnerable to the pressure to diet; to buy this skin cream or that pair of shoes; to submit myself to the cosmetic surgeon’s knife (I’ve done it twice, actually – the first time when I was barely 30 and had a breast reduction because I wanted to look like Yasmin Le Bon).
While it is not ideal to be wildly over-confident, which can be dangerous, surely it’s a good thing to believe in yourself. Men do it, so why shouldn’t we
I was invited on to Woman’s Hour on Wednesday to join the debate in a programme devoted to beauty. The writer Charlotte Raven had published an article about how women should stop wearing make-up; indeed, she had decided to stop plucking her eyebrows. I pointed out that Charlotte is clearly so beautiful, so fulfilled with her big diamond ring and children that she has no need of artifice.
Jolly similar: A High Street take on the preppy outfit the Duchess of Cambridge wore to the Olympic hockey pitch
The reason I wear make-up is because, without it, I resemble a blowfish, with the beaky mouth of a tortoise. Women who greet the world bare-faced are either lazy or arrogant, I told Jenni Murray, who was also sporting a full face of slap.
I’d love to face the world unadulterated like Hadley and Charlotte. They have more in common with Samantha Brick than they think.
On the programme too was fashion historian Caroline Cox. She talked about the fact that the first bras were invented by men, to give women a heaving bosom. Until the past 30 years or so, women expected that without a bra their bosoms would sag. With the advent of porn, and the raised expectations of men, women began to have breast implants to achieve the required shape.
Kate has quickly become a style icon
Hyper-grooming, by which I mean eyelash extensions and the Hollywood wax, is clear in its purpose: to make us spend money. Hyper-grooming is also designed to make us dimmer, given the time it takes for the upkeep.
Because I have spent my life in pursuit of beauty, I know the pitfalls – not just that you’ll have to buy expensive lash growth serum once you start having extensions because your own lashes will fall out, but also that surface beauty is fruitless if you believe you are ugly, uninteresting and worthless: this is why women having plastic surgery become addicted, and have more and more.
As I left the Woman’s Hour studio, I told Caroline Cox she is obviously far more intelligent than me. ‘Ah, but you are far more beautiful,’ she said. I know which I’d rather be.
While I don’t believe for a second Brick’s assertion that to be gorgeous is to be friendless and blighted (I’ve been on a Virgin Upper Class flight to LA with Natalie Portman and nobody batted an eye, let alone sent her champagne), I do wish women thought more of themselves. We’re such easy prey. I wish I hadn’t changed myself to fit the narrow parameters of what is deemed beautiful.
Do visit annautopiagiordano.it, to see what Botticelli’s Venus would look like were she to have modern-day vital statistics: she is reduced in every possible way.