'There are downsides to looking this pretty': Why women hate me for being beautiful
14:16 GMT, 3 April 2012
On a recent flight to New York, I was delighted when a stewardess came over and gave me a bottle of champagne.
‘This is from the captain — he wants to welcome you on board and hopes you have a great flight today,’ she explained.
You’re probably thinking ‘what a lovely surprise’. But while it was lovely, it wasn’t a surprise. At least, not for me.
'Good looking woman': But Samantha Brick says
that her pleasing looks have been a mixed blessing, with many of her own sex
becoming resentful, and have closed as many doors as they have opened
Throughout my adult life, I’ve regularly had bottles of bubbly or wine sent to my restaurant table by men I don’t know. Once, a well-dressed chap bought my train ticket when I was standing behind him in the queue, while there was another occasion when a charming gentleman paid my fare as I stepped out of a cab in Paris.
Another time, as I was walking through London’s Portobello Road market, I was tapped on the shoulder and presented with a beautiful bunch of flowers. Even bar tenders frequently shoo my credit card away when I try to settle my bill.
And 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.
While I’m no Elle Macpherson, I’m tall, slim, blonde and, so I’m often told, a good-looking woman. I know how lucky I am. But there are downsides to being pretty — the main one being that other women hate me for no other reason than my lovely looks.
If you’re a woman reading this, I’d hazard that you’ve already formed your own opinion about me — and it won’t be very flattering. For while many doors have been opened (literally) as a result of my looks, just as many have been metaphorically slammed in my face — and usually by my own sex.
I’m not smug and I’m no flirt, yet over the years I’ve been dropped by countless friends who felt threatened if I was merely in the presence of their other halves. If their partners dared to actually talk to me, a sudden chill would descend on the room.
Taken: Samantha with her French husband Pascal
Rubinat. Ten years her senior, he takes great pride in hearing other men
declare that she's a beautiful woman and always tells her to laugh off
And it is not just jealous wives who have frozen me out of their lives. Insecure female bosses have also barred me from promotions at work.
And most poignantly of all, not one girlfriend has ever asked me to be her bridesmaid.
You’d think we women would applaud each other for taking pride in our appearances.
I work at mine — I don’t drink or smoke, I work out, even when I don’t feel like it, and very rarely succumb to chocolate. Unfortunately women find nothing more annoying than someone else being the most attractive girl in a room.
Take last week, out walking the dogs a neighbour passed by in her car. I waved — she blatantly blanked me. Yet this is someone whose sons have stayed at my house, and who has been welcomed into my home on countless occasions.
I approached a mutual friend and discreetly enquired if I’d made a faux pas. It seems the only crime I’ve committed is not leaving the house with a bag over my head.She doesn’t like me, I discovered, because she views me as a threat. The friend pointed out she is shorter, heavier and older than me.
Blushing bride: Samantha on her wedding day, left, and right, at home with Pascal. She laments that not one of her girlfriends has ever asked her to be a bridesmaid – perhaps from fear of being overshadowed by her looks
And, according to our mutual friend, she is adamant that something could happen between her husband and me, ‘were the right circumstances in place’. Yet I’m happily married, and have been for the past four years.
This isn’t the first time such paranoia has gripped the women around me. In my early 20s, when I first started in television as a researcher, one female boss in her late 30s would regularly invite me over for dinner after a long day in the office.
I always accepted her invitation, as during office hours we got along famously. But one evening her partner was at home. We were all a couple of glasses of wine into the evening. Then he and I said we both liked the song we were listening to.
She laid into her bewildered partner for ‘fancying’ me, then turned on me, calling me unrepeatable names before ridiculing me for dying my hair and wearing lipstick. I declined any further invitations.
Therapist Marisa Peer, author of self-help guide Ultimate Confidence, says that women have always measured themselves against each other by their looks rather than achievements — and it can make the lives of the good-looking very difficult.
‘Many of my clients are models, yet people are always astounded when I explain they don’t have it easy,’ she says. If you are attractive other women think you lead a perfect life — which simply isn’t true.
Hard work: Samantha takes pride in her appearance. She works out – even when she doesn't feel like it – she doesn't drink, she doesn't smoke… and rarely does she succumb to chocolate
‘They don’t realise you are just as vulnerable as they are. It’s hard when everyone resents you for your looks. Men think “what’s the point, she’s out of my league” and don’t ask you out. And women don’t want to hang out with someone more attractive than they are.’
I certainly found that out the hard way, particularly in the office.
One contract I accepted was blighted by a jealous female boss. It was the height of summer and I’d opted to wear knee length, cap-sleeved dresses. They were modest, yet pretty; more Kate Middleton than Katie Price.
But my boss pulled me into her office and informed me my dress style was distracting her male employees. I didn’t dare point out that there were other women in the office wearing similar attire.
Rather than argue, I worked out the rest of my contract wearing baggy, sombre-coloured trouser suits. It was clear that when you have a female boss, it’s best to let them shine, but when you have a male boss, it’s a different game: I have written in the Mail on how I have flirted to get ahead at work, something I’m sure many women do.
Women, however, are far more problematic. With one phenomenally tricky boss, I eventually managed to carve out a positive working relationship. But a year in, her attitude towards me changed; the deterioration began when she started to put on weight.
We were both employed by a big
broadcasting company. One of our male UK chiefs recommended I take the
company’s global leadership course, which meant doors would have opened
for me around the world.
All I needed were two personal
recommendations to be eligible. As everyone in the office agreed I was
good at my job, I didn’t think this would be a problem.
But while the male executive signed
the paperwork without hesitation, my immediate boss refused to sign.
When I asked her right-hand woman why, she pulled me to one side and
explained that my boss was jealous of me.
Forced out: While Samantha has previously admitted to flirting to get ahead at work, she also says jealous female bosses have made some jobs so unbearable she has been forced to leave
Things between us rapidly deteriorated. Whenever I wore something new she’d sneer at me in front of other colleagues that she was the star, not me.
Six months later I handed in my notice. Privately she begged me to stay, blaming the nasty comments on her hormones. She was in her early 40s and confided she was having marital problems. But by then I’d had enough.
I find that older women are the most hostile to beautiful women — perhaps because they feel their own bloom fading. Because my husband is ten years older than me, his social circle is that bit older too.
As a Frenchman, he takes great pride in hearing other men declare that I’m a beautiful woman and always tells me to laugh off bitchy comments from other women.
'I find dinner parties and social
gatherings fraught and if I can’t wriggle out of them, then often dress
down in jeans and a demure, albeit pretty, top'
Yet I dread the inevitable sarky comments. ‘Here she comes. We’re in the village hall yet Sam’s dressed for the Albert Hall,’ was one I recently overheard. As a result I find dinner parties and social gatherings fraught and if I can’t wriggle out of them, then often dress down in jeans and a demure, albeit pretty, top.
But even these ploys don’t always work. Take last summer and a birthday party I attended with my husband. At one point the host, who was celebrating his 50th, decided he wanted a photo with all the women guests. Positioning us, the photographer suggested I stand immediately to his right for the shot.
Another woman I barely knew pushed me out of the way, shouting it wasn’t fair on all the other women if I was dominating the snap. I was devastated and burst into tears. On my own in the loos one woman privately consoled me — well out of ear-shot of her girlfriends.
So 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.
Perhaps then the sisterhood will finally stop judging me so harshly on what I look like, and instead accept me for who I am.