(TRIGGER WARNING FOR DISCUSSION OF EATING DISORDERS AND FAT PHOBIA)
You don’t have to think too deeply about Samantha Brick’s “journalism” to realise she’s fuckin witcha. She’s a Class A Troll who came out of nowhere last year having clearly been commissioned by the Daily Mail to write features aimed at (in this time of dismal paper sales) racking up the website hits – and therefore advertising £££ – from people who hate women, and also people who hate people who hate women. She’s an easy conduit for a rag like the Mail to simultaneously put forth outrageous misogyny and shunt the blame onto the female writer. It’s about as effective an illusion as you’d expect from Gob Bluth.
It seems pretty easy therefore to write her off, to dismiss her pieces as rubbish and move along. When she’s writing things like “All women hate me because I’m prettier than them”, that’s easy enough to do. But the article she published in the Mail today is altogether more complex, and more dangerous.
I’m posting the link to her article below so please take care of yourself and don’t read it if you’re worried about being triggered by discussion of the methods of a person with anorexia, or by fat hatred. Be aware that it’s in the Daily Mail so also don’t click if you’re boycotting them.
Samantha Brick: Joan Collins is right. Any woman who wants to stay beautiful needs to diet every day.
In this pishstain propaganda piece, Brick decides to share the limelight for once: she’s not just focusing on how great she is (although that does fill a sizeable portion of the article) – it’s also about YOU. You, with your breakfast, how dare you eat breakfast and not think you’re a fucking pig. It’s full of misogynist crap about how you’re only good enough for men if you eat nothing but Polos all day.
Well Brick’s self-delusion might be funny, but this shit isn’t. This article is terrifying. Samantha Brick is describing her eating disorder. Not from a position of recovery. Not on her diary or her blog – in a popular national newspaper. Not with any warning or consideration for people dealing with eating disorders. Not with any links to help and support for people with eating disorders. She describes with some clarity the methods by which she has used refusing herself food to maintain control. I don’t want to go into it too much, you can read the article if you’re not bothered by the ED-triggerfest of it all. But we need to be clear that what she calls “dieting” is starving yourself. She describes fainting from hunger and her 4-times-a-year “extreme low calorie” diets which leave her without “the mental or physical fortitude to work”.
The poisonous combination of fat-shaming and the encouraging of disordered eating habits on display here is played for laughs (gross) and is clearly intended to come across as the simplistic, comical hatred of a pantomime villian. But eating disorders are a violence committed on (predominantly) women’s bodies by society. Anyone who thinks this is funny, or vain, or first-world-problems, can go fuck themselves. If women being driven to self-inflicted violence by a society (the media, the people they know, the messages health professionals send when they refuse treatment to fat women, the nonsense we’re taught about food and calories all the time) is trivial to you, you certainly have no right to call yourself progressive.
The sad fact is that there is nothing uncommon about Brick’s beliefs. Working in an office as a woman, it’s neverending. Listening to the constant policing women do of themselves and the women around them is frustrating and exhausting for me, as someone who doesn’t give a fuck about what I eat or who is judging it. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for anyone dealing with or recovering from an eating disorder to be surrounded by that. Or anyone who hates their body so much that they’ve even considered starving or purging it.
The belief that starving yourself is healthier than eating what you want to is insidious for women. I feel such sadness listening to beautiful women talk about how “bad” they’ve been for not following strict diets, how they’ve skipped meals, how they eat pasta with only seven calories in it, how much weight they constantly want to lose but very rarely do (because dieting is unhealthy as fuck and categorically does not make you lose weight in the long run). I’m going to make a bold claim – I think the majority of women in the UK engage in disordered eating. That’s not the same as having an eating disorder(/s), which is a group of distinct and sometimes overlapping mental health problems. But people think it’s normal and even healthy to go without food regularly, to have “fast days” once or twice a week, and to eat food I’m reluctant to even call food. You can’t even sip a flavourless Diet Coke without someone trying to convince you it’s in some way going to make you put on weight (it really, really won’t). And everyone knows being “over”weight is GROSS, AMIRITE? Wrong wrong wrong. There’s a Scottish-based body-acceptance blog called Project Naked I’m just going to recommend right about now.
It probably goes without saying that men are pretty much entirely absent from being involved in or listening to these conversations. And no one bats an eyelid. But even though I make it clear at every available opportunity that I am not on a diet, don’t care about diets, and find a lot of the discussions annoying, I’m still asked like every week if I want to join the weekly weigh-in. It’s presumed that if you’re a woman you must constantly be on a diet.
Weight does not equal health, it’s very simple. But that erroneous belief is tied down so hard that it is inescapable for women EVERY SINGLE DAY – even women who aren’t interested in losing weight are constantly reminded of that dangerous stream of thought. It seeps in where you didn’t expect it to. You find yourself looking in the mirror and wondering if you do care, if you should care. For women with weight-loss eating disorders, it must be deafening.
Brick’s article is not just gloating, nor is it just the ramblings of someone who REALLY needs help. It’s a provokement of women who think like her (or ever have thought like her). It’s equating goodness with control and self-denial, and badness (“failure”) with eating. To promote on your national platform pro-ana language and thought patterns is a disgrace. Brick, and the chain of people who allowed this article to be published, have failed people with eating disorders on a monumental level. It’s difficult to picture how many people will be in a health crisis tonight after reading Brick’s words.
All women deserve better than this. The women who have been robbed of real control and real power, who are harmed so deeply by these attitudes and struggle with eating disorders, do not deserve to be triggered and demeaned like this. They deserve to be empowered, not enabled into illness by provocative hate-speech. Samantha Brick, you are a wanker.
Instead of ending with Samantha Brick, why not end with Portia de Rossi, cause who the fuck doesn’t love Portia de Rossi?