This past week, astonished readers around the world goggled their eyes over Samantha Brick’s narcissistic lament and let out an audible tsk-ing sound that is still reverberating throughout mainstream media. Anticipating some backlash, she gave a first-hand account of being victimized by other women for her good looks.
But there are downsides to being pretty — the main one being that other women hate me for no other reason than my lovely looks.
As a journalist for the Daily Mail, this provocative article went viral, in a caddy fashion. Brick felt it was her responsibility to speak out against the discrimination attractive women face in the workplace – in her case, the newsroom. While her defense that a hunk like Brad Pitt proclaiming his own beauty would not evoke the same hypersensitive response makes for an intriguing social commentary, my concerns over this controversy lie elsewhere.
Her intent remains unclear to me. If she truly felt persecuted for being a good looking female journalist, then her blunt delivery made no attempt at assuaging the perceived jealousy she encounters from other female professionals. Furthermore, apart from lacking a constructive angle, this testimony wanes in comparison to the life and death circumstances that many journalists face in conflict areas around the world, especially women. Those reporting on corruption, humanitarian crisis and war are far removed from concerns over their own physical image – safety is the salient concern.
Combing through Brick’s rubble, I’d like to invite some resources that are grounded in protecting journalists’ safety into this discussion on professional intimidation. From Western correspondents like Anthony Shadid and Marie Colvin (who recently lost their lives while reporting in the Middle East) to countless other citizen journalists who risk their lives for the sake of exposing crimes against humanity, the sacrifices they’ve made are worthy of a journalist’s call to advocacy.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), 16 journalists have been killed on duty thus far in 2012. This figure is merely the tip of the iceberg – many more conflict journalists have gone missing or are imprisoned. The CPJ impunity index lists (in descending order) Iraq, Somalia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Colombia, Afghanistan, Nepal, Mexico, Russia and Pakistan as the most dangerous countries for journalists.
Warning: This video contains graphic images.
Reporters Without Borders is another organization dedicated to the safety of journalists. This video provides a summary of the types of advocacy work they facilitate:
Finally, in the spirit offering constructive feedback and support, the Dart Center for Journalism & Trauma is a valuable resource for those who face the emotional and physical repercussions of reporting on social injustices.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that a column written by any one of these journalists would put Brick’s complaints to shame. It is disappointing to see someone who identifies as a journalist call attention to an issue as superficial as being “too good looking.”